WarGames: Google vs. Apple

How the Cult of Apple Could Transform Into a Real-Life Army
Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
July 29 2013 3:06 PM

WarGames: Google vs. Apple

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The Apple Army goes on the offensive—all half million of them.

Sailors on a People's Liberation Army (PLA) missile frigate await orders from Cupertino.
Sailors on a People's Liberation Army missile frigate await orders from Cupertino

Photo illustration by Jim Festante/Slate. Photo by Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images.

Reminder: Matt Yglesias and Farhad Manjoo are wargaming a fanciful, definitely-not-actually-true version of what might happen if Google and Apple went to war. You can see how the battle began here.

As of Nov. 22, 2013 Apple has:
Cash on hand
: $135 billion
Personnel
: 580,000 under direct control, plus nearly 4 million active-duty soldiers in allied armies
Territory controlled
: China, European Union, pockets of fashionable liberalism across North America

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Shifting production of iPhone chips away from Samsung is a bit of a logistical headache, but plans to do so have been in the works for a while. There may be a snag or two involved in ramping up the pace of the transition to Taiwan Semiconductor, but this is where things have been headed for quite some time now. Meanwhile, though the Google virus succeeds in shutting down Apple’s China plants for the foreseeable future, the attack yields some unforeseen blowback: American cyber-infiltrators wrecking China’s industrial infrastructure is a threat that cannot stand. Google may know software, but nobody knows computer hacking quite like the People’s Liberation Army. It’s time to unleash Unit 61398 on Google to counter Mountain View’s cyberattacks. In a week, Chinese hackers, in tandem with Apple, have uncovered the locations of Google’s secret server infrastructure. Brick and mortar special forces begin following up on what the hackers learn, knocking out mobile data centers one after the next. In the South China Sea, the PLA Navy fires on Google staff attempting to outfit a data center in a geopolitical no-man’s land near Taiping Island. It’s the first human casualty of the war—but it won’t be the last.

Now comes the time for the world to learn what Apple was doing with its enormous ramp-up of capital expenditures in 2012. People know something weird is happening when Jonny Ive takes the stage in person at Moscone West rather than sticking to video. It turns out there’s more going on, design-wise, than desktop towers shaped like garbage cans. Ive unveils the most elegant set of small arms the world has ever seen. The iPistol, machined from a single piece of aluminum, is simply the most advanced handgun anywhere. And for those less comfortable with firearms, Ive has an array of knives and bludgeons anodized in a full array of colors. They’re simple, minimalistic, and insanely deadly. 

The Apple Army awaits their iPistols outside the Apple Store in Tokyo
The Apple Army awaits their iPistols outside the Apple Store in Tokyo

Photo by YOSHIKAZU TSUNO/AFP/Getty Images

And with them Tim Cook exploits his remaining edge. Google cast aside its “don’t be evil” mantra and become a totalitarian menace right out of Ridley Scott’s famous Mac ad. Apple is often compared to a cult by its critics, and that’s exactly what the situation calls for. The loyal volunteers of the Apple Army—a half million strong now—line up, as always, outside the stores, but this time they get the latest products right off the assembly line for free. They’ve always viewed themselves as representing the forces of good, but now that there’s a real-life Evil Empire to fight they’re inspired, dogged, and creative in their attacks. Fanning out, they don’t just hit what remains of Google’s physical infrastructure, but snatch the Android phones out of people’s hands and rough up co-workers spied checking on their personal Gmail accounts. Woe to anyone who uses “to Google” as a generic verb for Internet search. In territories with heavy concentrations of Apple users—Manhattan, San Francisco, and of course Oregon where the violence began—army members seize control of local broadcast media so Geniuses can preach the true gospel, always wearing the black turtleneck of the truly devoted. Revolutionary violence has never looked this good.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.