iPhone, iPad Games, Apps, Reviews, News Sat, 01 Aug 2015 15:00:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Who Wins The Apple – Google War? Sun, 23 May 2010 13:18:14 +0000 Read More]]> Steve Jobs Eric Schmidt

If an official declaration of war was necessary, it was presented this week at the Google I/O conference. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) are at war and all of the afternoon coffee breaks between Steve and Eric aren’t going to change that. As the technology world moves from the desktop to the mobile world, the long truce that held between these two rivals dissolved as Microsoft moved to a place of importance but relative irrelevance. So now that the guns are blazing in round two of the Battle of Silicon Valley, who will eventually win the conflict? Will it be Apple with their superior user experience, vertically integrated products, and developed ecosystem? Will it be Google with its clout, emergent systems, and open standards? In fact, neither will be the winner or the loser. The real winner will be you and I, the consumers that use the products and services of both companies.

It is a generally accepted axiom of commercial and economic theory that competition breeds innovation. It is, in fact, the central underpinning of the free market system. When the iPhone and associated operating system came on the scene in 2007 it had no competitor, it had no comparison. It was utterly and truly a new thing, formed entirely to bring a new experience to the cell phone. There was WAP web browsing before the iPhone, there were even limited Java-based applications. The iPhone was born from the realization that consumers would be interested in using a true smart phone as a mini-computer instead of just a phone and limited entertainment device. Apple took that initial lead they grabbed by going in another direction and parlayed it into an environment they slowly iterated to add new features as they became comfortable with them. By the time the iPhone 3G came out in 2008 Apple was firmly astride the mobile market with a dominance and lead no one could question.

But a funny thing happened on the way to world domination, Google showed up. When the Android operating system was announced in 2007 it signaled a move by Google into the mobile space. Google wanted a share of the emergent market Apple had discovered with the iPhone they had announced earlier that year. At the time Android presented little threat to the iPhone OS. It was seen as a configuration heavy, geek friendly operating system while the iPhone OS was geared towards a managed, consumer friendly experience. Between 2007 and 2009 the iPhone OS grabbed a large share of the smart phone market, partially due to its innovative design and partially due to the lack of a viable alternative. When the Motorola Droid was launched in October of 2009 with Android OS 2.0, serious competition for the iPhone finally landed. In the interceding time since then, the innovation and competition coming out of both companies has heated up.

I don’t think it comes as any surprise that I am generally a fan of the iPhone, the iPhone OS, and the whole ecosystem Apple has grown around it. It’s my opinion that it presents the best integrated user experience. I would be the first one to admit however that with the inception of Android 2.0 Google has started to right the ship. As a consumer in the iPhone ecosystem I don’t view this as necessarily a bad thing and neither should you. Good competition breeds innovation and innovation ultimately benefits the consumer. While I wouldn’t advise Apple to start rushing features and services into their products merely to participate in a “me-too” race with Google, I might suggest that taking the competition into consideration might be a good idea. I think they’ve done that already with the inclusion of video conferencing, a front facing camera, and multitasking to the upcoming iPhone 4G / HD. In evaluating the competition and consumer demand, Apple has added features to the product they are comfortable with and that advance the product that much more. Competition spurred the innovation but the innovation wasn’t simply a move to imitate something the competition already had. That’s an important point. As I mentioned yesterday, Google’s Froyo announcement at I/O seemed intent on introducing features that were picked from a shopping list of things the iPhone OS didn’t have. The things Apple is bringing to the table in the new iPhone 4G and iPhone operating system may have been spurred by the competition from Android, but they are not simply extensions of what Android already offers.

The good news is this war will have a winner; you, the consumer. Much like an earlier war between Apple and Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) produced improved versions of both Windows and Mac OS, this new conflict will ultimately breed innovations and improvements in the mobile market. I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens.

Do you think this newfound competition in the mobile space will ultimately benefit the consumer? Does either Apple or Google really have the clout to truly beat the other? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section.

Image: Gizmodo
]]> 3 Google Aims For Apple Sat, 22 May 2010 14:46:56 +0000 Read More]]> google

Someone once told me imitation was the sincerest form of flattery. I’m sure you’ve heard similar advice. I don’t think Eric Schmidt and the leadership at Google have been offered that old axiom though. If you were keeping an eye on the announcements coming out of the Google I/O conference this week you noticed they all had a similar theme; all were a reaction or move against a similar Apple offering. It seems Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) is intent on flattering Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) in as many ways as possible in the next year.

MacRumors provides a good rundown of how Google’s announcements line up with current Apple offerings. If you don’t believe Google sees Apple as its direct competition, reading the article will convince you otherwise. Of particular note to iPhone owners are that three of the four major Google announcements are moves against the current iPhone OS environment. Interestingly enough, Google didn’t frame these announcements in terms of their individual strengths and uniqueness but instead in terms of their differentiation from the iPhone OS. Granted, they didn’t directly juxtapose the two architectures but the implication was there. I’ve said in a few different articles that it feels like a mistake for a company to form their product from a list of things the competition doesn’t have. Yet, that seems to be what Google has done.

The most prominent of those announcements was Android 2.2, the so-called Froyo build. Froyo is a further evolution of Android which, in a lot of ways, is a very innovative platform. Unfortunately it also suffers from some very apparent flaws; some of which aren’t even in the operating system itself. The two major announcements around Froyo are the ability for a phone to act as a wireless access point and Flash 10.1 support. On the surface these seem like important divergences from the iPhone OS but if you look under the surface you see they are reactionary moves. Google’s sudden belief it needs to fully support Flash? Well if you don’t get the back story on that you have some catching up on the news to do. The wireless access point mode is an interesting idea but really this is Google taking a feature from the “Things iPhone OS Doesn’t Have” list. Tethering is something iPhone OS has supported since version 3 but something AT&T has famously blocked due to alleged concerns about the load on their data network. The mobile AP feature is an obvious dig at the lack of tethering support. It’s an interesting feature but it distracts from the underlying problems still inherent in the Android system.

Unlike iPhone OS, Android is a horribly fractured operating system. There are currently at least four major versions of the product with a fifth on the way when Froyo comes out. People on the lower versions of the OS have little or no hope of a direct OTA update of their product which is dependent on both the abilities of their hardware and the willingness of the mobile carrier to allow it to happen. Google’s attempt to strong arm its Android partners into unification with the Nexus One and Android 2.1 failed; something signaled by Google’s withdrawal from direct to market selling of the Nexus One. In short, Android suffers not only from strong competition externally but internal divisions as well. Google can use Android to imitate iPhone OS and add features Apple isn’t ready, or prepared, to include all they want; as long as their own house is in disarray they will never make a concerted push against Apple.

I read a good book last week I think sums up Apple’s view on all of this attempted one-upmanship coming out of Mountain View. The book was REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, the founders of 37Signals. It’s an excellent business philosophy book and I would encourage you to read it as well. The part of the book germane to this discussion is where they discuss what to do about the competition. To briefly paraphrase their thoughts (and with my apologies for doing so to Jason and David), they say who cares what the competition is doing. You need to focus on making your product the best it can be in accordance with your vision for it. People should love your product for what it offers them. If they don’t love your product then you shouldn’t go into endlessly recursion chasing the competition’s feature set, that’s a fool’s game. Apple has never made an attempt to chase the Android feature set, or the feature set of any other product. Apple has a solid vision for their product and the will to follow it through. Some people love Apple for this and some hate it. At the end of the day though Steve Jobs gets to go home knowing he’s making what he wants, not something dictated by a distant second place rival jumping up and down to be noticed in a crowd.

What do you think? Will Google’s run at Apple and the iPhone OS increase their market share or just give the reputation of a “me-too” competitor? Will Apple’s single-mindedness cost them customer base in the end? Let us know in the comments section.

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