Google said that it has a stable relationship with Apple even as the company slowly encroaches into its cross-town peer's market-space.

Speaking with analysts following yesterday's after market earnings announcement, Google CEO Eric Schmidt downplayed escalating competition between its own phone offering and Apple's iPhone.

He refused to comment on a report that Apple was negotiating to replace Google's search service on the iPhone with Microsoft's Bing, but he suggested that the partnership was set to continue.

Smartphones based on Google's Android operating system are seen as a fast-growing competitor to the iPhone.

Data released today by Myxer, a mobile content provider with over 30 million members, showed that visits to its mobile site by Android users grew 350 percent in 2009. On the other hand, iPhone growth increased by 170 percent during the same period.

Schmidt served on the board of both companies, but was forced to resign from Apple's board as increasing overlap in the mobile phone market became apparent.

I have a special spot in my heart for Apple, said Schmidt. It's a very well run company that we also compete with and have special partnerships with.

Google's growth continued in the fourth quarter as the company beat analyst estimates and saw revenue rise 17 percent from a year ago on strong ad sales.

The profit of nearly $2 billion Thursday topped analyst estimates, but revenue only matched forecasts.