By Verne Kopytoff
FORTUNE -- Larry Page, Google's chief executive, is fed up with the negativity in the technology industry and the news media that covers its every detail like a prizefight.
"Every story I read about Google is 'us versus some other company' or some stupid thing, and I just don't find that very interesting," he said Wednesday at his company's annual developers conference. "We should be building great things that don't exist. Being negative isn't how we make progress."
A few minutes later, Page went on the attack -- negativity be damned. He criticized Microsoft (MSFT) over compatibility issues between its email service and Google's (GOOG) products. Microsoft was "milking off" of Google's innovation," Page told the crowd. He then lashed out at Oracle (ORCL), which unsuccessfully sued Google for patent infringement. "Money is more important to them than any kind of collaboration," Page said.
Google executives may consider themselves to be above the fray, but, in reality, they are as aggressive as many of their technology industry counterparts. Public sniping at rivals is common. They trash competing products and business strategies, often in obvious attempts to lift the fortunes of their own services and mobile devices. Although some of their criticisms are off the cuff, many are planned and vetted -- making it impossible to argue that they lack the corporate seal of approval.
Microsoft is Google's most frequently target of derision. During Google's early days, top Google executives regularly made snide comments about Microsoft's antitrust conviction and software-based products that they considered obsolete. As the rivalry grew, their public feud continued on a number of fronts. For example, Eric Schmidt, Google's chairman, during an interview last year with the editors at AllThingsD, the technology news site, dismissed Microsoft's online efforts and push into hardware. In general, he said that Microsoft has been unable to create "state of the art" products. When naming the four most influential technology companies, Schmidt conspicuously left Microsoft off the list.
Page's criticisms of Microsoft yesterday focused on a lack of cooperation by the software giant that he said is holding back the Internet's development. Microsoft integrated Google's email service into its Outlook email but didn't let Google give its users access to Microsoft's services. It wasn't the only flash point between the two companies yesterday. Earlier, Google sent Microsoft a cease and desist letter demanding that Microsoft remove the YouTube app from its Windows Phone operating system because the app lacked its usual advertising, according to The Verge, a technology news site.
Apple (AAPL) is another of Google's punching bags. Google executives alternate between praising Apple and beating on it. For example, Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, attacked Apple at Google's developer conference in 2010, without mentioning the company's name. The message was clear, however: Apple and the iPhone were a threat to free competition while Google and the Android mobile operating system were its saviors.
"If Google did not act, we faced a draconian future -- a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice," Gundotra said. "So if you believe in openness, if you believe in choice, if you believe in innovation from everyone, then welcome to Android." To hammer the point home, he flashed a slide referencing George Orwell's 1984 alongside the phrase "not the future we want." Google's let's-all-get-along edict apparently had the day off.
Page's aversion to negativity took another holiday earlier this year during an interview with Wired magazine in which he talked about Facebook (FB). His perspective is, of course, colored by Google's efforts to build a credible social network competitor. After acknowledging Facebook's strength, Page dismissively and perhaps hyperbolically said, "They're also doing a really bad job on their products." Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, seems to have weathered the criticism just fine.
Page's frustration with Oracle follows a lengthy patent dispute between the two companies. Lawsuits, like the one Oracle filed over the use of Java software, stifle innovation, he said. In complaining about Oracle on stage, Page took on a company that arguably owns the tech industry's crown for combativeness. Larry Ellison, Oracle's chief executive, has a history of filing lawsuits against rivals and then ridiculing them. "We'd like to have a cooperative relationship with Oracle," Page said. "It doesn't seem possible."
Its new music service -- Google Play Music All Access -- has features that are similar to both competitors.
By Ryan Bradley, senior editor
FORTUNE -- After months of buildup, on Wednesday Google announced a new, subscription-based streaming music service called Google Play Music All Access. The name may be clunky, but the offerings appear bountiful.
Google (GOOG) secured deals with three of the four major record labels—Universal Music, Sony, and Warner MOREMay 15, 2013 1:39 PM ET
In his Google I/O keynote, Vic Gundotra threw down the gauntlet. How will Apple respond?
Thursday may be remembered as the day Google (GOOG) leapfrogged Apple (AAPL), introducing a slew of new products -- an ad platform, a music market, Google TV -- and reporting that in 18 months Android has overtaken the iPhone OS in everything from U.S. smartphone sales to mobile Web searches.
But the most direct challenge came in MOREPhilip Elmer-DeWitt - May 21, 2010 8:11 AM ET
From the Google (GOOG) i/o conference in San Francisco, Michael and Jon analyze Google's plans for a new video standard and whether bringing the internet to TV's is such a good idea.Ben Baer, Senior Producer - May 20, 2010 5:40 PM ET
I'm live at Google I/O this morning and will be updating this post as announcements are made.
Google has set up a live stream of the event, which starts at 9 a.m. PDT. I'll be updating with quick posts here all day.
I can tell you already that HTML5 on Chrome is going to be a huge part of the keynote and that a few of your favorite magazines and Internet TV MORESeth Weintraub - May 19, 2010 10:29 AM ET
The mystery company helping GM's OnStar isn't a mystery anymore.
Google I/O is turning out to be a pretty interesting conference this year with GM now acknowledging the speculation that they are working with Google.
(I'll be dropping in at Google I/O and dropping posts on location tomorrow and Thursday).
Today, GM announced that they'd be showing up at Google I/O to demonstrate the new Android app that will accompany the Chevy Volt and MORESeth Weintraub - May 18, 2010 12:44 PM ET
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