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Google Co-Opts Apple's Iconic Hero

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More than John McCain, James Garner, and Tom Cruise combined, Apple chief Steve Jobs considers himself a maverick. One who goes against the grain, challenges authority, and invites his disciples to, as a unified whole, think different. For that reason, Jobs has deeply identified with singer-songwriter Bob Dylan and his early years as a poetic rebel. It doesn't matter that neither party has exactly been a reckless iconoclast for quite some time -- Jobs will chastise anyone who dares question the link between Apple and Dylan's beat revolution of the '60s.

He's long used Dylan has a symbol for Apple, quoted him during shareholders meetings, and used his image in ads. So it must be pretty insulting for Jobs to see his idol appear in the latest ad for Google Instant.

Taking a cue from Dylan's well-known inspiration to INXS' video for "Mediate," Google demonstrates its new instant search feature by typing out the first few words of the opening lyrics to "Subterranean Homesick Blues." The search engine is shown updating with keystroke and predicting the rest of the query with dead-on accuracy. With each flick of Dylan's cue cards, the video cuts to lyrical search queries on Google's search page, representing the massive speed increase of the site's response time.

Adding insult to injury, the clip ends with simple black lettering on a stark white background -- another one of Apple's calling cards.

Though the motives behind the ad aren't exactly clear, Google definitely invites the comparison to a mean-spirited attack against its competitor. It could be a response to the routine digs Jobs delivers at the start of every Apple press conference now. Or a bit of gloating after Android smartphones surpassed Apple's in market share. Or a reminder that Apple doesn't own the concept of revolution.

At any rate, this rivalry is certainly entertaining for the rest of us.
POSITION:  No positions in stocks mentioned.