It's hard to argue that Google hasn't been a significantly different company under Larry Page's leadership. If nothing else, it has certainly become more directly competitive. Mountain View has generally (though not always ) preferred to be passive in its approach to other companies, allowing the product to speak for itself (whether for good or ill), rather than outright antagonize others. Apparently all that reservation was just saving up for when Page would take the helm and let the zingers fly. In a Wired interview, the CEO had this to say on the subject of Apple:
Wired: Steve Jobs felt competitive enough to claim that he was willing to “go to thermonuclear war” on Android.
Page: How well is that working?
Wired: Do you think that Android’s huge lead in market share is decisive?
Page: Android has been very successful, and we’re very excited about it.
Emphasis added. Also: ouch! Of course, the argument likely won't end there. After all, Apple certainly makes more money off of its iPhones than Google makes off of Android. However, there is also worry that Apple's growth in handset sales may be peaking in some markets, whereas Google continues to generate income with each handset that runs Android for as long as its able to collect data and target ads.
Either way, though, it's difficult to argue that the 'thermonuclear war' was capable of hindering Android in any significant way. So, alright, Page. We'll grant you that one. You earned that bit of snark.
The verbal smackdowns don't stop there, though. While speaking on the subject of Google+, the CEO had some choice words to say both in the defense of his company's social network, and in criticism of its primary competitor:
Wired: One area where people say that Google is indeed motivated by competition is the social realm, where in the past two years you have been working hard in a field dominated by a single rival, Facebook. That’s not the case?
Page: It’s not the way I think about it. We had real issues with how our users shared information, how they expressed their identity, and so on. And, yeah, they’re a company that’s strong in that space. But they’re also doing a really bad job on their products. For us to succeed, is it necessary for some other company to fail? No. We’re actually doing something different. I think it’s outrageous to say that there’s only space for one company in these areas. When we started with search, everyone said, “You guys are gonna fail, there’s already five search companies.” We said, “We are a search company, but we’re doing something different.” That’s how I see all these areas.
Wired: What’s your evaluation of Google+?
Page: I’m very happy with how it has gone. We’re working on a lot of really cool stuff. A lot of it has been copied by our competitors, so I think we’re doing a good job.
It should be no surprise that Company A thinks its own products are better than Company B's. However, hearing a CEO say that a competitor is just plain doing a bad job is somewhat startling. Especially when said competitor's userbase outnumbers your own by nearly 10:1. He does have a point, though. Facebook didn't have near as much focus on selective sharing until Google introduced the Circles concept. And it would be legitimately shocking if the big F wasn't working on a Hangouts competitor.
Still, this is some next-level snark from Larry. The full interview is a great read on the state of Google and what Mountain View wants to achieve. It's also fantastic if you like your tech news with a side of corporate cat fights.