At Google I/O 2010, something unprecedented happened - The search giant took Apple head on, and rather than whine about the competition, openly and pointedly ridiculed the company and its flagship iPhone product.
Is Apple vulnerable to ridicule?
Apple's discontinued "I'm a Mac, and I'm a PC" ads mercilessly mocked and ridiculed Microsoft, and were highly effective in, if nothing else, drawing attention to the underdog Mac OS X platform. The ads highlighted weaknesses in the Windows Vista platform (both perceived and real) and magnified them, while at the same time poking fun at the OS and Microsoft, labeling the company as old, stuffy and corporate.
But times are a-changing. While Apple's halo could outshine that of Microsoft, up against another hip, trendy company such as Google, Apple itself looks old, stuffy, set-in-its-ways. In fact, the Cupertino giant, a company that has built its reputation on being different and encouraging others to think different, looks an awful lot like a cultish, control-freak version of Microsoft from the 1990s.
Check out the videos. The number of jabs that Google throws at Apple is unbelievable.
Apple has spent the best part of a decade building up an image of cool. That image has been a profitable one. But can that image survive being made fun of? After all, people who subscribe to the whole image aura surrounding Apple and its product obviously care about what others think.
It's not the first time that a company has fought fire with fire and turned Apple's tactics against it. Microsoft tried the same thing, but in very small, controlled way, with the "It's a PC" ad campaign.
Plenty of people also poke fun at Apple and its ad campaigns. YouTube is crammed with "I'm a Mac" parody clips. So far though, the chilling effect that these have on Apple seem minimal.
This is an interesting tactic for Google to take against Apple. Question is, can Google make it work to take the shine off the iPhone so the search giant can sell Android handsets and Google Chrome tablets?
I guess time will tell ...