Google CEO Eric Schmidt was a personal friend of Steve Jobs and was even on Apple’s board at one time. He stepped down from the board a few years after Google acquired Android in 2005 and it became clear that Google would be developing an operating system that would be in competition would Apple’s iOS. Apple and Google are both creative companies with innovative technologies, but their respective approaches to innovations are radically divergent.
Google has opted for an open-sourced approach to innovation. Anyone—not just the engineers—can access the source code and build applications for the operating system. Android is their sandbox, and they can create what they like. There’s no buy-in or approval required from Google for Average Joe to develop and sell applications.
By contrast, Steve Jobs wanted a hand and final say in every aspect of Apple product development. He didn’t simply tell the board about a new product—rather, he would unveil products in a masterfully theatrical manner. He was a brilliant creative who knew just what he wanted, believed strongly he knew what was best and was almost always right. Jobs is often brought up as a counterexample to Google’s belief in the value of innovation through open-source. So if you consider yourself equal to Steve Jobs in business savvy, technical ingenuity, and uncannily sharp instincts, then, by all means, try the Steve Jobs approach of stringent oversight of innovation. If, however, you are like the rest of humankind, then maybe Google’s approach is worth considering.