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Battle lines drawn in Apple-Google warfare

Top talent choosing sides - or bailing

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Updated The battle between Apple and Google is heating up, with execs taking potshots at each other and Silicon Valley insiders choosing sides - some by getting new business cards.

"It's World War III. Amazing animosity is motivating two of the most powerful people in the industry," a "well-connected" investor told The New York Times, referring to Apple's Steve Jobs and Google's Eric Schmidt. "This is emotional. This is the biggest ego battle in history. It's incendiary."

As we reported earlier today, Tim Bray - the co-creator of XML - has left Oracle to join Google, announcing the move in a blog post in which he detailed his "hate" towards Apple.

Now comes word from Tech Crunch that star product manager R.J. Pittman has jumped from Google to Apple. In an email announcing the move, Pittman is reported to have written: "They've created a pretty neat role for me, which I will be able to talk about soon after I’ve started working there."

So much for the rumored no-poaching pact that Apple and Google were said to have had when Eric Schmidt sat on Apple's board of directors.

No such unwritten gentleman's agreement now exists between the two companies. In fact, the word "gentle" is thoroughly out the window, what with Steve Jobs reportedly calling Google's "Don't be evil" mantra "bullshit" or "a load of crap" at a recent employees' meeting in Cupertino.

Google's Schmidt didn't take the bait, instead issuing a statement that said “I continue to believe, as many do, that Steve Jobs is the best C.E.O. in the world today, and I admire Apple and Steve enormously." But, of course, that sentiment was intended for public consumption - who knows what fulminations are being spouted in Mountain View's corner offices?

Microsoft, for its part, is being unusually cordial to its one-time bête noire. First, Steve Ballmer praised Apple's App Store, and now The Seattle Times reports that Microsoft's general counsel Brad Smith recently gave "a nod of support" for Apple's patent-infringement lawsuit against Android-phone maker HTC.

And then there are the persistent rumors that Apple is in talks with Microsoft to dump Google from its privilged spot as the iPhone's - and the iPad's? - default search engine and instead promote Redmond's Bing into that role.

But not all members of Apple's brain trust are girding their loins for the growing hostilities. CNET News reports that Dan Dobberpuhl, the founder and main brain behind PA Semi, the chip design firm that Apple acquired in 2008, has left Cupertino, possibly as early as mid-last-year.

Dobberpuhl wouldn't have been the first PA Semi smarty to depart from One Infinite Loop. The New York Times reports that "at least half a dozen" former PA Semi engineers have moved from Apple to Agnilux, a start-up co-founded by erstwhile PA Semi system architect Mark Hayter.

In the increasingly bitter Apple-Google clash of the titans, some players are choosing sides, and some are simply getting out of the way. ®

Update

According to CNBC's Silicon Valley bureau chief Jim Goldman, there's a simple reason for the animosity between Apple and Google: "I'm...told through many sources," Goldman says in a CNBC video on Monday, "...that Steve Jobs simply hates Eric Schmidt." And no, we didn't ask Apple for confirmation.

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