In a ‘fireside chat’ with leading venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin discuss everything from the moment they nearly sold the company to why they are cautious about moving into health technology. One interesting angle for Apple fans was how the two contrasted their approach to that of Apple.

Brin, who runs Google X, said that the experimental wing of the company was about making a number of bets and hoping that some of them paid off.

From my perspective – running Google X – that’s my job, is to invest in a number of opportunities, each one of which may be a big bet. […]

If you look at the self-driving cars, for example, I hope that that could really transform transportation around the world [but] it’s got many technical and policy risks. But if you are willing to make a number of bets like that, you’ve got to hope that some of them will pay off.

Page contrasted this approach with Apple, which focuses on a very small number of products.

I would always have this debate, actually, with Steve Jobs. He’d be like, ‘You guys are doing too much stuff.’ And I’d be like, ‘Yeah that’s true.’ And he was right, in some sense. But I think the answer to that – which I only came to recently, as we were talking about this stuff – is that if you’re doing things that are highly interrelated […] at some point, they have to get integrated.

Another difference between the two companies, say Page and Brin, is in their view of technology in the health sector. Apple’s long-awaited iWatch is of course believed to be equipped with multiple health and fitness sensors, and the Health app is a key feature of iOS 8. Google says that while it does have some health-related ambitions – such as glucose-reading contact lenses – it views the field with considerable caution.

Generally, health is just so heavily regulated. It’s just a painful business to be in. It’s just not necessarily how I want to spend my time. Even though we do have some health projects, and we’ll be doing that to a certain extent. But I think the regulatory burden in the U.S. is so high that think it would dissuade a lot of entrepreneurs.

You can watch the complete interview in the video above.

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7 Responses to “Google’s co-founders on how the company differs from Apple”

  1. Harvey Lubin says:

    Brin and Page sound insecure defending the too many things they have tried (with a high failure rate), and putting down Apple for being more focused in its product development.

    In contrast, we don’t hear Tim Cook wasting his time giving product development advice to Google. He is too busy running a very successful company with consistently increasing sales and profits. ;-))


    • No, we just hear Tim Cook spend half of the WWDC 2014 Keynote attacking Google, while Google spent zero seconds bashing Apple at I/O 2014. The only one who sounds insecure is Cook whenever he mentions Google, probably because he knows the entire company depends on basically a single product for all of its revenue, and that product has reached its peak.


      • keath66 says:

        One hour of the keynote was spent bashing Google? I’ll have to rewatch.

        I only recall those few minutes where he mentioned that Android users were often stuck with old versions. Bash, bash, bash.


      • peterblood71 says:

        Jealous much Eli? You’re the one who sounds severely insecure. A single product? Pretty ignorant. Read Comment Zilla down below for the stats and get educated. How do you think Apple got to be the biggest company in the world? It wasn’t with only one product as important as it is.


  2. Google has two blockbuster products, search and Android. Everything else has either failed or just a sideshow. Microsoft on the consumer side is in a similar boat with Windows and Office.

    Apple on the other hand… Mac, iTunes, iPod, iPhone, iPad, AppleTV, AppStore

    Mac lost the PC wars but now make 45% of all PC profits worldwide – WIN!
    iTunes is the largest music store for a decade – WIN!
    iPod is the number one music player for over a decade – WIN!
    iPad the number one tablet since it came out that hold 98% of the enterprise market – WIN!
    AppleTV is the number selling set top box in its class (Google is on its sixth try) – WIN!
    AppStore the number one AppStore since it cam out – WIN!
    Final Cut Pro – WIN!

    Mac + iPad = Largest PC maker on the planet by marketshare and profitshare.


  3. peterblood71 says:

    Larry Page saying Apple should develop more stuff, and then they themselves are just developing wily-nily but aren’t marketing anything useful out of all that development, is pretty disingenuous. Apple products get results once released.

    Who’s to say how much stuff is being developed under Apple’s hood just because they don’t brandish it around publicly like the PR gloating gluttons at Google? Larry Page just doesn’t know anymore without the betraying Google ex-CEO Schmidt or Eric T. Mole on Apple’s Board.

    Of course all Apple has to do is get into the Search game and cutoff Google funding at it’s main funding source.