Apple v. Google: How Corporate Rivalry Reflects a Longer Set of Geopolitical Struggles

By Wayne A. Hunt.

Published by The International Journal of Science in Society

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In modern consciousness, the geopolitical rivalry between Athens and Sparta during the Peloponnesian War of 431-404 BC became the iconic expression of the battle between open and closed forms of governance. Now an epic contest is playing out in the private sector in which these same features are on display. Apple works from a traditional business plan, one that is top-down, hierarchical and vertical while Google represents the opposite. Google has traditionally favoured open software and non-proprietary approaches to web development. The two Silicon Valley rivals are in the middle of an epic battle over market share in the mobile media revolution.
It has been suggested that these corporate confrontations are part of a wider cycle in which one entity will eventually occupy a monopoly position and stifle innovation until a new form of “creative destruction” transforms the landscape. (See Tim Wu, The Master Switch, 2010.) This paper places this dialectic into a longer historical context and uses a case study of the WikiLeaks controversy to show how these developments fit into an evolving political narrative about America’s place in the world.

Keywords: Mobile Media, Transparency, Open Source, America’s Place in the World, Non Proprietary Platforms, Public Diplomacy, Geopolitical Strategy, Political Narratives, Identities, Future Trends

The International Journal of Science in Society, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp.159-170. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 759.640KB).

Dr. Wayne A. Hunt

Professor, Social Science, Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick, Canada

Wayne Hunt is a Professor of Politics at Mount Allison University. For 2010–2011, he was a Visiting Fellow at the London School of Economics’ Centre for International Studies. He has been a Visiting Scholar at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a Research Associate at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. His research interests are in the following areas: the impact of new technology on human communities and the built environment, geoengineering and climate change, strategic analysis, public intellectuals and idea-networks, leadership, digital innovation that is small scale and community-based, and militant Islam and the future of liberalism.