Earlier today, two men were spotted having coffee in Palo Alto, CA. Except these weren’t just any two men. They were the CEOs of perhaps the two most important and powerful companies in Silicon Valley right now, Apple CEO Steve Jobs and Google CEO Eric Schmidt. Big deal, you might think. After all, Schmidt used to be on Apple’s board. But ever since he stepped down (and actually before he did), the growing animosity between the two formerly close companies has been apparent.
So what does their coffee date mean? Well, obviously, only Jobs and Schmidt know for sure. Gizmodo, which scored the pictures, also has accounts that they were discussing technology. It’s a better sign than if they were screaming at one another, I suppose. But, as with anything Apple, you should never discount the possibility that this entire thing was staged so that someone would see them and snap a picture that would produce a thousand blog posts.
Few companies (if any) handle their image better than Apple. So the fact that these images exist immediately raised the notion in my head that Apple wants them to exist. Remember, these pictures come after weeks of Apple getting dragged through the mud as a big bully for moves such as suing HTC over mobile patents, a move which everyone realizes is actually a suit over Google’s Android operating system infringing on those patents. And then, of course, there’s what Steve Jobs supposedly said about Google at an Apple Town Hall meeting.
So anyway, regardless of the circumstances behind the meeting, the meeting itself is interesting given the current state of affairs between Apple and Google . And when I see these pictures, I can’t help but think I’ve seen this scene before — in several movies. I’m just not sure which one today’s meeting more closely resembles. (Warning: A few movie spoilers ahead.)
Movie 1: Heat
Michael Mann’s 1995 movie Heat, is one of my favorite movies. In it, there’s a scene in which Al Pacino’s cop character, Vincent Hanna, pulls over Robert De Niro’s criminal character, Neil McCauley, and says, “What do you say I buy you a cup of coffee?” McCauley agrees, and the two enemies lay aside their differences for a few minutes to share some coffee at a local diner. The resulting talk is brilliant. It’s just two guys sharing their hardships brought about by their professions. They even note that in another life, they could probably be friends, but in this life, the next time they meet, they’ll probably have to kill one another.
Movie 2: 500 Days Of Summer
This movie springs to mind because I’ve used it before to talk about the break up of Apple and Google. In the film, after the breakup occurs, Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel) meet up in a park after having not seen each other for some time. It’s awkward as Summer is now married, and Tom is still alone. There’s clearly no hope for them to get back together, but the meeting ultimately ends up being a good one because they can both move on.
Movie 3: The Princess Bride
This reference was brought up almost immediately in the Gizmodo comments and by Digital Daily. In the movie, Westley (Cary Elwes) sits down to share a drink with Vizzini (Wallace Shawn) — but one of their drinks is poisoned. In the ensuing battle of wits, Vizzini believes he has tricked Westley (known to him only as the “Man In Black”) into drinking the poison, but little does he know that both cups were actually poisoned — and Westley is immune. It is Westley who gets the last laugh.
Movie 4: Scarface
Pacino again. In this movie, his character, Tony Montana, goes to meet with Alex Sosa, a Bolivian drug lord — and Tony’s main enemy. Sosa ends up helping Tony by revealing that one of his colleagues, Omar, is an informant. Omar is killed and Tony strikes a huge deal for 2,000 kilos of cocaine.
Movie 5: Batman Begins
In this film, a young Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) recklessly goes to meet with his enemy, crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson). Falcone points a gun at Wayne and threatens to kill him. Years later, Wayne, as Batman, gets him back.
Movie 6: Lost
Okay, not a movie, but Lost might as well be one. The current plot of the final season revolves heavily around Jacob vs. The Man In Black (yes, just like The Princess Bride). At the end of last season, the two sit side-by-side on the beach and the Man In Black says to Jacob, “do you have any idea how badly I want to kill you?” Jacob replies, “Yes.” But neither kills the other, they just sit there, and reflect.
Movie 7: The Seventh Seal
In this movie, Antonius Block (Max von Sydow) routinely meets up with Death (Bengt Ekerot) to play a game of chess. If Block can defeat his rival in the game, he won’t die. Death gets his man, in the end.
So that’s seven examples of would-be rivals taking a break from their fighting to meet up for some face time. There must be dozens others. Interestingly, in none of these situations do both sides end up making amends permanently. And actually, I’m having a hard time coming up with any example of a film where two sides patch things up over coffee. Not that movies are real-life, of course — but art does imitate life. That doesn’t speak well for Apple and Google.