WarGames: Google vs. Apple

It’s War! Apple Pearl Harbors Google’s Oregon Data Center.
Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
July 29 2013 1:54 PM

WarGames: Google vs. Apple

VIEW ALL ENTRIES

Sneak attack on The Dalles.

The Apple Army goes to work.
The Apple Army goes to work

Photo illustration by Jim Festante/Slate. Photo by iStockphoto.

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 Oct. 25, 2013 Apple has:
Cash on hand
: $140 billion
Personnel
: 100,000
Territory controlled
: Offices, retail stores, factories, and the political allegiances of China, Europe, the Middle East, and a growing number of Americans.

There’s a grim mood in the hastily assembled Cupertino, Calif., bunker where Apple’s executives have hunkered down. But the phone is ringing off the hook. Google’s tactics, though devastatingly effective, are also terrifying to many citizens. While click-dependent digital media may buckle under to Google’s demands, television remains Americans’ main source of news and the offline coverage of Google’s offensive is devastating. The New York Times is able to get by on traffic from iOS devices (mobile is the future, after all), and a solid minority of American digital media sticks with Apple, hoping for a larger share of a smaller pie. Meanwhile, a European Union already worried about Google’s monopoly power and concerned about surveillance moves decisively into backlash mode, barring the company from doing business in Europe and seizing its fixed assets there. And while it’s true that Google has many offerings Apple can’t beat, it’s also true that Germany entered World War I with the strongest overall military.

Advertisement

War is a game of coalitions. Not only are there whole countries where Google barely exists (think China), but there’s a whole world of online services companies out there who’ve been chomping at the bit for a big Google scandal to get them into the game. Bing search, Outlook webmail, Yahoo Calendar, and Dropbox for storage. Google’s one-stop shopping is a convenience, but people in Google-hostile territory can use the Web without it and the company’s behavior is frightening people. Apple’s hearty band of loyalists can shop at the Apple Store and punch apple.com into the browser just fine—and while they’re there, many of them are adding their contact information to a new page which urges Apple fans to join the “Apple Army.” The photo accompanying sign-up shows a cheerful, attractive, multicultural group massed in front of Apple headquarters, everyone wearing T-shirts of bright, primary colors. In the first week, 20,000 Apple partisans sign up.  

And Google has forgotten the fundamental reality that the Internet is a physical entity. Customers are a little surprised to find every Apple Store in the Portland area closed at lunchtime, but it’s just a quick 90-minute jaunt down I-84 to Google’s data center at The Dalles, Ore., one of six within the United States. Tim Cook never really thought it would come to this, but as Apple’s longtime logistics guy he’s always made sure the company can get its hands on demolition and construction materials at a moment’s notice. And what can be used to renovate a store can be used to wreck a data center just about as easily. No government officials or law enforcement personnel will explicitly take Google on, of course, but everyone knows that if the data centers are destroyed so is the possibility for blackmail so it’s strictly hands-off. Meanwhile, other wrecking crews are already in motion heading out of Greensboro, Omaha, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Tulsa to attack the other data centers.

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

TODAY IN SLATE

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

What Charles Barkley Gets Wrong About Corporal Punishment and Black Culture

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Why Do Some People See the Virgin Mary in Grilled Cheese?

The science that explains the human need to find meaning in coincidences.

Jurisprudence

Happy Constitution Day!

Too bad it’s almost certainly unconstitutional.

Is It Worth Paying Full Price for the iPhone 6 to Keep Your Unlimited Data Plan? We Crunch the Numbers.

What to Do if You Literally Get a Bug in Your Ear

  News & Politics
Books
Sept. 17 2014 10:36 AM MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel Recounts Telling Her Mother About Her Best-Selling Memoir MacArthur Fellow Alison Bechdel recounts telling her mother about her best-selling memoir.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 16 2014 4:16 PM The iPhone 6 Marks a Fresh Chance for Wireless Carriers to Kill Your Unlimited Data
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 16 2014 12:20 PM These Outdoor Cat Shelters Have More Style Than the Average Home
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Behold
Sept. 17 2014 11:06 AM Inside the Exclusive World of Members-Only Clubs
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 11:14 AM How Does That Geometry Problem Make You Feel? Computer tutors that can read students’ emotions.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 17 2014 11:18 AM A Bridge Across the Sky
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.