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Google vs Apple: Google Doesn't Need To Win

So now we’re apparently in a Google versus Apple fight to the death. Google open-sources VP8 (now WebM), and Steve Jobs immediately throws cold water on it. Apple got their share of scorn at Google’s I/O conference. Google thinks they have mobile/cloud/desktop integration nailed–and if what they demo’d last week actually works in FroYo (Android 2.2), they probably do.

But the notion that this is a “fight to the death” is a bit bizarre, even though it’s been portrayed that way, and by none other than Steve Jobs, who earlier this year said that Google is out to kill the iPhone. If it is a battle, the terms are uneven.

My own disclosures: I’m definitely a Google fan. And I’m also an iPad-equipped Apple fan, though I am also very unhappy with the closedness of the Apple platform, and the way they treat their developers. But they make beautiful hardware, and they really understand “it just works.”

Vic Gundotra nailed it in his second keynote at Google I/O. When he was starting at Google, he asked Andy Rubin why Android was important; why did the world need one more mobile platform? Andy’s answer was that Google had a very dismal future if they didn’t address
mobile; we’d end up with one platform, controlled by one vendor, and one carrier. It was a wise and prophetic answer. If I’ve pieced the chronology together correctly, this would be about the time the iPhone was coming online. And the iPhone is a great device–great, but ultimately closed.

Apple makes hardware, and the more hardware they sell, the more money they make. So Apple clearly wins if they sell iPhones to everyone–the more iPhones (and iPads), the more they win. There would be nothing better for them than driving the other smartphone manufacturers out of the market. (They don’t seem to be interested in low-end, low profit margin phones, but that’s another story.) So what it takes for Apple to win is clear: dominance of the smartphone market.

Google’s stakes are different. They don’t make money from selling phones, and they even abandoned their retail NexusOne store with very little pain. They don’t make money from licensing software either, as far as I know. Google makes money from selling ads. And the more ads they sell, the happier they are. Apple is fighting for market share in cellphones; Google is fighting for market share in ad placement.

This asymmetry is very important. Google does not have to dominate the smartphone business; they just have to make sure that there’s an environment in which the business of selling ads thrives. While Apple wants to dominate smartphones, Google undeniably dominates online ad sales–and they clearly see ad placement on mobile as a huge opportunity. Conversely, failure to dominate mobile ad sales would be disastrous. At best, it would limit their potential; at worst, if we’re heading for the end of the “desktop/laptop era”, it could seriously threaten their core business.

Making money selling mobile ads requires that Google keep the smartphone market open, plural, competitive. As long as there are multiple smartphones in the market, content developers will be driven towards open standards like HTML5. Developers will build richer and richer HTML content for the phones–and Google will thrive in its core business, placing ads on HTML pages. Google doesn’t need to “win”; they just need to “not lose”, to keep the game open, and to drive open technologies to the next level where they can compete successfully. In the long run, a closed system can only thrive if it’s the only player in the game. If we’ve learned one thing from the growth of the Internet, it’s that open standards that can be implemented by many vendors trumps closed systems, and enables the kind of competition that drives out monopolies.

Just as an athlete will inevitably perform better when he’s relaxed and not worried about losing, Google’s big advantage in the smartphone wars may well be precisely that they don’t need to win. Googlers are justifiably proud that US Android sales have snuck ahead of iPhone sales. Of course, that’s 50-odd phones available for all US carriers, versus two iPhone models available only from AT&T. And when the iPhone 4 comes out, Apple will certainly see a big burst of sales. But that’s not what’s really important to Google; all they need to do is keep the game open, for themselves, Palm/HP, RIM, and the other smartphone vendors–and to establish the kinds of standards that enable a competitive market to thrive.

There is a real threat to Apple, though; just because Google doesn’t need to win smartphone dominance doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like to. And in the wake of their FroYo demos at I/O, that seems increasingly likely. Dan Lyons (Fake Steve Jobs) makes a lot of good points in his Newsweek blog:

  • Google’s technology is way ahead of anything Apple is offering, or likely to offer. Streaming music from your desktop is only one example. Google, not Apple, is offering what customers want.
  • Apple’s response to Google’s claim that they are shipping more phones was “so what, we have more market share.” Lyons says he’s heard that before, it’s the song of a company that’s losing and in denial. I’ve heard it too. Lyons is right.
  • It’s easy to think that Apple fell apart in the late 80s and early 90s because a clueless Pepsi exec booted Jobs and took over. But the real story, if you’re old enough to remember, is that Jobs mismanaged the company after a series of stellar technical triumphs. History appears to be repeating itself.

I am genuinely sad about this; Apple is a great innovative company. There’s no reason they can’t do everything Google is doing. Analyzing each players’ strengths, Apple really understands user experience and design. They have a lock on that. Google really understands cloud computing and connectivity. However, it will probably be easier for Apple to get up to speed on the connectivity issues than for Google to get Apple’s design sensibility. Nothing Google is adding to Android is fundamentally that difficult, and Apple has no shortage of engineering talent.

But–and this is important–Apple will not be able to take Google on in the areas of connectivity and cloud computing as long as they insist on a closed platform. Not because Google’s FroYo features can’t be implemented on a closed platform, but because it just wouldn’t occur to you to do so. Furthermore, you can only go so far telling customers that you know what’s best for them. I hate Flash almost as much as Steve Jobs, but you know what? If I were building a platform, supporting Flash would be a requirement. Flash is everywhere. Getting tied up in a pointless fight with Adobe is silly. Vic’s daughter is right: she wants the toy that can run her favorite online games. That’s going to be an Android phone, not an iPad or an iPhone. Apple is insisting on playing the game in a way that they can only lose.

Having said that, why is Apple so interested in HTML5? Why are they supporting it with almost as much energy as Google? I think Steve Jobs really understands that HTML5 is the “right thing” for the future of the web. Apple is not going to drop native applications. But Jobs has always had an uncanny sense of when things are done right.

Although Google doesn’t need to “win” the battle with Apple, Apple’s hysteria, along with its insistence on fighting the wrong battles, means that Google has a decent chance of winning. HTML5 may be Apple’s last chance to change their ways, and make decisions that aren’t dictated by their desire to control the platform. If they don’t, they will lose, and that would be tragic, both for Apple and for users.

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  • Alok Saboo @ TruVoIPBuzz

    I think you have hit the nail on its head Mike!!

    While Apple may be doing all the good things, it comes out as being oppressive, dictatorial, etc. My biggest grief with Apple is this idea that Apple knows it all and consumers know nothing about these stuff. This may be partly true, but please understand that consumers have evolved; they like to have some say in the decision process.

    If Flash indeed is so bad, why is Android allowing it? Apple could let users decide whether they want to have Flash on their phones – have a switch in the settings to enable/disable flash. Sounds very doable to me? This closed mindset is one of the biggest reasons for me to not buy the iPad.

  • Steve W

    If Apple has proved anything, it is that Apple doesn’t need to dominate. Apple just needs to profit.

  • tmay

    I would argue that the tech community need to get over Flash and take it out of the equation, just as iProduct purchasers have and advertisers are beginning to do. Android, and MS for that matter, are supporting Flash as a bullet point to use against Apple, not for any solid technological reasons, and Flash availability on non Apple devices isn’t going to have very much impact on actual market shares.

    Adobe isn’t now and won’t be a defining the mobile market, though I would agree with those that argue that Adobe has the best shot at creating the tools for HTML5, once they get over Flash ubiquity and move on.

    The questions should be how does the Android marketplace deal both with fragmentation and its own competitive landscape? Two or three Android manufacturers will rise to the top and then the Android market will be essentially commoditized, with increasing deviation from any standard platform. The smaller players will have to find alternate platforms to survive, or as HP has done, purchase a viable platform to revive.

    I would argue that Apple foresaw all of this.

    While it is unlikely that Apple will sustain the largest share of the market vs the Android platform, it is more than likely that Apple will sustain the largest manufacturers share and most profitable segment of the market.

    So yes, I agree with you that Google keeps its advertising market open, but I’m not so sure that the Android platform is going to become the top player in the market. I agree that Apple as well needs to develop for the cloud, and Apple probably is, but aren’t talking.

  • Rale

    Do you guys ever get out of the office and get a tan? I am one of millions of VERY satisfied iPhone users. I miss flash like I miss teenage acne. This weekend I probably sold 10 iPads at a graduation party, JUST by letting people handle and play with the device. Stopping at an Apple store on the way home, I observed EACH and EVERY one of 24 iPads being used by potential customers (I say “potential” because the store, like hundreds of others, is sold out — they are flying off the shelves).

    Seems the only ones who know, much less care, about this mislabeled “openness” issue are the tech bloggers. And you, my friends, are a decided minority.

  • rick

    Ok a few points:

    “When he was starting at Google, he asked Andy Rubin why Android was important; why did the world need one more mobile platform? Andy’s answer was that Google had a very dismal future if they didn’t address mobile; we’d end up with one platform, controlled by one vendor, and one carrier. It was a wise and prophetic answer.”

    Google bought Android in 2005, 2 years before the iPhone. Also… market dominance dismays Rubin but he’s fine with two guys and one vendor owning search? Oh right… that’s fine, it’s Google.

    “Google’s technology is way ahead of anything Apple is offering, or likely to offer. Streaming music from your desktop is only one example. Google, not Apple, is offering what customers want.”

    er…. this is why there are 70+million iPhones out there? This is what Google SAYS people want and while it’s cool it’s far from proven that the I/O announcements are actually what people (meaning the broad public, not the tech community at I/O) wants enough to buy. Oh and you mention steaming music but DON’T mention Apple’s purcahse of Lala and the fact that they’re dicontinuing it right before WWDC which might indicate an announcement?

    I get that you want to chime in on this discussion, but the fact is that it’s silly and counter-productive to talk about the state of the smartphone market until we see what Apple announces in a couple of weeks. At that point we’ll have a good view of that 2010 looks like. Commenting now and putting a google spin on things is a bit fanboyish.

  • pk de cville

    “Apple’s hysteria, along with its insistence on fighting the wrong battles, means that Google has a decent chance of winning.”

    Wow! Interesting take on history. Suddenly, Steve Jobs, the best CEO in the computing era, a maker of myths, magic, and palaces (flagship retail stores). Suddenly this Steve Jobs is driving the company into a ditch?

    As a thesis, you’ve provided almost no support other than your opinion. (Oh, I forgot, you can go back 25 years for that.)

    Mike, if you’re going to stick your ass out on a limb like this, please add some meat to the argument other than 1 – Jobs is losing it, 2 – Apple’s hysterical, 3 – Apple NEEDS this win.

    Would’ve done your reputation and click numbers well if you’d argued this over 2 or 3 columns to add the substance.

    Grade: Fail

  • Secret Squirrel

    I disagree with your statement, “Just as an athlete will inevitably perform better when he’s relaxed and not worried about losing…”. People who are too relaxed and not worried about losing are often times too complacent and will take for granted they’re going to win. Therefore, they don’t try as hard. Therefore, they wind up loosing.

    In contrast, that little guy which has everything on the line and who has everything to often than not, it is the little guy who winds up winning and upsetting the cart. I see that in sports a lot with Tiger Woods and with Venus Williams. That makes me so frustrated with them. They’ll both go into a tournament assuming they’re going to win. Therefore, they don’t try as hard. But in the end, they’ll wind up loosing.

    Remember the words of Andy Grove (I think it was him) who once stated “only the paranoid survives”. Fearing you might loose and being paranoid about it will often give you the extra motivation and incentive to try harder not to loose. And that very extra effort will often cause you to win. Sometimes, having a fear of loosing is a good thing. And I can’t remember a time when being complacent has ever benefited someone very much.

  • Jediker

    We’ve been here before the argument of closed v. open is old. This battle unfolded during the desktop era and we know who won.

    What is not clear is whether the new war in the mobil environment will be the same, so far it has not pan out this way take a look at the mp3 player market. it was dominated by one company because consumers want things to work and have no patience to fiddle around with technology and here is where Apple Excel.

    This new war is being waged in the consumer front, where Apple has the upper hand but Google has created a viable alternative and remains to be seen which strategy will prevail. However I don’t think either has to win, remember that the cell phone market is huge and there is no way that one company can take control of the whole thing.

  • Roger Dodger

    “Having said that, why is Apple so interested in HTML5? Why are they supporting it with almost as much energy as Google?”

    If anything, Apple is providing the biggest support to HTML5 possible, by not having Flash on its mobile platforms. The question is why is Google being an enabler for short term market gain, rather than being a leader in trying to move the industry forward to HTML5 and leave Flash behind? Pretty weak pandering on Google’s part.

    “Google’s technology is way ahead of anything Apple is offering, or likely to offer. Streaming music from your desktop is only one example. Google, not Apple, is offering what customers want.”

    Google’s demo of this service is also way ahead of anything *Google* is offering at present – considering that the music streaming was a technology demo – with the actual service coming later this year. And doesn’t Apple already stream millions of 30 second previews a day? Is the technology for streaming a full song really so much more “way ahead”? Sounds like you mean “business model” instead of “technology”.

  • Ferruccio

    “a clueless Coca Cola exec” — for goodness’ sake man, Pepsi, definitely not Coca cola. Cheez…

  • Tobias

    Note about the three bullet points that Google got the music streaming technology by buying an iPhone company and that before 1997 Jobs was never really tasked with “managing the company”.

  • Ken Berger

    It’s the business model stupid!

    You are right that Apple and Google approach this from very different places. Google was to see open platforms that support their ads. They are using open stuff to fill in where they don’t have any thing. I am referring to content. With all the great stuff (and there was cool stuff) at Google I/O there were two big things missing in the announcements – Improvements int he Android UI and ways for partners to make money.

    Say what you will about the walled garden of the iPhone it has a business model for developers and content providers that Google don’t – the iTunes store (apps and content) is the largest frictionless sales engine on the web (Only Amazon is any where near as close and they are much more closed than Apple).

  • Andrew Sheppard

    Mike,

    You said:
    “It’s easy to think that Apple fell apart in the late 80s and early 90s because a clueless Coca Cola exec booted Jobs and took over. But the real story, if you’re old enough to remember, is that Jobs mismanaged the company after a series of stellar technical triumphs. History appears to be repeating itself.”

    If you can’t tell the difference between Coke and Pepsi, perhaps you shouldn’t be writing this article.

    Then you said:
    “If I’ve pieced the chronology together correctly, this would be about the time the iPhone was coming online….”

    Google bought Android (developed by the people at Danger) in 2005. Schmidt joined the Board of Apple and Microsoft bought Danger in 2006. Vic Gundrota left Microsoft and joined Google in 2007.

    So when was it exactly that Andy told Vic that Google had to save the world from the evil of domination by Jobs’ and Apple’s iPhone? And if it was in 2007, what had Google been doing with that Android phone thing for the previous two years?

    If I’ve pieced the chronology together correctly, 2005 would be about the time that Google was worried that Microsoft was about to dominate the entire mobile internet space. At that time Microsoft Windows Mobile was a serious contender in the “smartphone” market.

    The fact that Microsoft did not succeed and Apple did may not be due to any particular success on Google’s part, it was a combination of Apple’s success and Microsoft’s failure.

    Actually, your article missed out one part of the quote, that Rubin also told him that if “Google did not act we faced a Draconian future, a future where one man, one company, one device, one carrier would be our only choice.”

    So, could it be that the “one man” is in fact not Steve Jobs but Steve Ballmer or even Bill Gates?

  • aram

    Some history about “open”. The fact is before the iphone the phone carriers controlled what applications could run on their networks and were generally in charge of sales of those applications. Apple found 1 carrier willing to allow it to sell applications directly, bypassing the carriers, ushering in this era of keyboard-less smart phones.

    People love to bash apple but without them this market wouldn’t even exist.

    I think the competition is great and forces andriod and iphone devices to get better and better at an astounding rate.

  • bruce wayne

    ….Houes of Cards…..Googles weakness is that they and many others have built their entire business model high jacking open standards that many have never dared to question the validity, feasibility or longevity of…..Google is even arrogant enough to think that no one would be daring enough to change the game on them…..Its happened before….the incumbents battle it out while a new entrant changes the paradigm and leves the old dragons running behind ….

    http://www.factoetum.com/factoetum/List_of_Technology_Icons

  • Synthmeister

    Google wants many platforms, controlled by many vendors, and many carriers, with one search engine: Google.

    And otherwise you have so many logical falsehoods:

    “So what it takes for Apple to win is clear: dominance of the smartphone market.” Nope, Apple doesn’t have to dominate any more than they dominate the computer market. Even if Apple stays at 20% to 30% of the smart phone market, they will be fine. Why? Because they are making over $600 per phone, plus they are selling iPod touches, iPads, apps, e-books, music, movies, TV shows, peripherals and soon advertising. Plus they are sucking the oxygen out the developer pool with 100 million iDevice users with credit card accounts on iTunes. With 20 – 30% of the market, Apple can put a big dent in Google’s ad revenue by simply changing the default search preferences in the next iDevice OS update. Google can’t really hurt Apple’s bottom line with a new Android update.

    “But the real story, if you’re old enough to remember, is that Jobs mismanaged the company after a series of stellar technical triumphs.

    Nope, Jobs and Scully butted heads and the board thought Scully knew what he was doing. But Scully and his followers mismanaged Apple in a spectacularly horrible fashion.
    History appears to be repeating itself. Yes, but you have the wrong history. Instead of looking at the history of PCs, which was largely determined by IT department spending, look at the history of mp3 players which is being determined by Joe/Jane Consumer spending. Everyone was saying the exact same things when the iPod came out. Eventually Microsoft’s “openness” was going to beat the Apple “closedness.”

    Also remember that this is really a three front war: the iPhone, the iPad and the iPod touch. So far, iPod sales have been about 70 to 80% of iPhone sales, capturing a huge market of under 20 year olds as well as all the people who won’t/can’t switch to AT&T or won’t/can’t pay an extra $30 per month for a data plan. With OS 4.0, the iPod touch becomes a serious, practical VOIP device.

    Also remember that the iPhone has gone ballistic in markets with multiple iPhone carriers and that will probably happen in the U.S. by the end of the year.

  • DF

    So different frrom the April 26 post whirr Apple was going to be the clear winner and that Android might not even survive. What’s happened in this one month and why should I readyour blog if you can’t even see what’s one month ahead?

  • DF

    So different frrom the April 26 post whirr Apple was going to be the clear winner and that Android might not even survive. What’s happened in this one month and why should I readyour blog if you can’t even see what’s one month ahead?

  • bowerbird

    i loved this line:
    > I am genuinely sad about this

    ahh… how touching…

    you convinced yourself that apple is gonna lose the war,
    and it made you “genuinely sad”. i can see a tear forming.

    you evidently consider yourself to be extremely convincing!

    but cheer up, mike, because you’re absolutely wrong! :+)

    apple isn’t gonna lose. in fact, they’re gonna keep showing
    the phenomenal growth they’ve shown for the last few years.
    their machines will keep getting better and better and better,
    and everybody else will just be trying to keep up with them…

    so put away that “genuine sadness”, mike. you won’t need it.

    > If I were building a platform,
    > supporting Flash would be a requirement.
    > Flash is everywhere.
    > Getting tied up in a pointless fight with Adobe is silly

    well, _any_ type of “pointless” fight would be “silly”, right?

    except, according to steve, this fight is _not_ “pointless”.
    flash burns through battery-charge, and is buggy to boot.

    so if you (or google) put flash on your platform (or theirs),
    if steve is correct, the performance is gonna suffer badly,
    and apple is going to look much better in comparison, and
    thus _win_ the battle for consumers, who want it to work…

    and if adobe can get its shit together, and improve flash
    so it doesn’t eat battery-charge, and stops being buggy,
    then if the market demands, steve might take flash back.
    (but i’d bet the market will be happy to leave flash behind.)

    so — once again, mike — put away the “genuinely sad” face,
    because you ain’t gonna need it. no matter how convincing
    you think you might be…

    -bowerbird

  • David Megginson

    I went to Android on principle, not because I thought it was better than iPhone. However, I’ve been playing with FroYo (Android 2.2) for two days now, and for the first time, I think Apple and the iPhone are in serious trouble even with customers who won’t care about open vs. closed.

    Eclair (Android 2.1) still had a few rough, unfinished bits, but Google has made FroYo just work, the way that Apple used to be able to make MacOS just work back in the 1980s and early 1990s.

    The iPhone looks slow and blurry beside a Nexus One, and can’t do as much — 2008 tech vs 2010 tech. As Apple continues to drift from its past as a great hardware company to its future as a boring media and litigation company, it’s hard not to wonder if its best days will soon be behind it.

  • P. G. Taboada

    I disagree on most peoples urge for openess. Closing native phone development is neither dumb not new. Apple keeps an eye on the software being offered and that is really fine for the users. And please don’t forget that the iPhone sdk and the tools are free, It just will cost you a yearly fee when you want to put it onto a device/ in the store.

    So there is still safari on the iPhone and iPad. It is a great browser. Webapps can do the html5 magic, fine. So why people just don’t stop wining and put html5 apps online? Ah, because they want to monetize.

    Just my 2 cents.

  • Michael Moncur

    Apple doesn’t need to win either. In fact that’s always been their philosophy – they never took the “necessary” steps to “win” at the PC market (licensing MacOS to other manufacturers). They didn’t want to “win” as in dominate the market. They wanted to create the best product, sell it to the best customers, and end up with a higher profit margin than other PC makers.

    I see no reason to imagine their iPhone strategy is anything different. As you said, they don’t want the lower end of the market. They want to make the best device, and they want a bigger share of its profits than Google gets on theirs. Done and done.

    Also, I find it downright bizarre that everyone is championing Google as the pinnacle of openness. Apple isn’t open – big deal, buy a phone from somebody else. At least the internet is open and Apple’s devices give you full access to it.

    But what are you going to do about Google’s effective monopoly on SEARCH? On the very flow of information? Where is the alternative search engine? Microsoft Bing?

    That worries me much more than a device that will undoubtedly only be popular for a few short years until something better comes along.

  • Bob

    Hey Mike, at least your readers know what’s going on, in light of the really great comments!

  • Bear

    Interesting and well thought out write-up. One snippet that I disagree with is “Analyzing each players’ strengths, Apple really understands user experience and design. They have a lock on that. Google really understands cloud computing and connectivity.” In my view, Apple does not have a “lock” on user experience and design. They do that very well (better than many competitors), but part of what makes Google’s “cloud computing and connectivity” based products is the user experience and design that users enjoy. Doing “cloud computing and connectivity” w/o a good user experience and design would not be as successful as Google has been.

  • Wayne

    Google does not make money from placing ads, they make money selling information about you. And that is what they wish to dominate: your likes, dislikes, and any and all information about you, so that they can sell your specific eyes to advertisers.

    When you look at it that way, I’d surely prefer Apple, who wants to make a crazy nice phone for me, to Google, who wants to invade my privacy more fully than Facebook.

    Apple single-handedly forced AT&T to change how their network worked to provide a better end-user experience, while Google let’s carriers do whatever they want — which has never been good for users. Apple cares about the end-user experience, while Google cares about being everywhere to be the gatekeeper that sells you things at all times.

    This whole “Apple is closed, Google is open” thing is way, way overblown and not as true as the True Believers make it out to be, For example, the iPhone has had tethering built-in for a while now, but you can’t get it in the US because carriers don’t care whether the phone manufacturer is open PR not. We’ll see how many of the cool promised features of Froyo you actually get to use in your wonderful “free” world.

  • DD

    You haven’t addressed the downside of Android ‘openness’ which is fragmentation. The reality is that consumers couldn’t care less about mobile operating systems. They just want a smooth, ‘it just works’ type of experience. That will be very difficult to achieve on the fragmented Android platform where consumers will have to work to make sure that the apps and features they want are available for the brand of phone they buy. (Android 1.5 vs 2.2?? WTF?) And developers will have to test their apps on all the various hardware and carrier configurations. Ughh! Compare that to Apple, who has a smooth update process and tests apps so the consumer doesn’t have to. As for the comments about Android 2.2 surpassing iphone: whatever. i suspect that argument will be obsolete after June 7.

  • Adam

    Google does make money by licensing their Apps for every Google-branded phone.

  • Chris Lamb

    Apple makes nice hardware and is often capable of making people “re-appraise” their computing requirements.

    I use a lot of Apple products but have reservations at times.

    In the current climate my main reservation is that the stuff is very expensive.

    PC stuff is a heck of a lot cheaper and manufacturers are competing with Apple and offering similar feature sets very quickly. Not so attractive but often very well built these days.

    One interesting “personal” statistic. In my small group of developers/programmers I used to be 1 of 7 people using an iPhone. I just got rid of mine after realising that, actually, the tariff was high, the upgrade was ridiculously priced and it didn’t even have a decent messaging application.

    Of that 7 – now that I have given it up – there are 2.

    Apple realised – in my opinion – that saturation and ubiquity would lead to an iPhone becoming just familiar.

    I think the iPad is clever at making maximum profit from a very similar line of development.

  • Goofball Jones

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the only reason Andoid is going to have streaming music from your desktop because Google bought out a iPhone app maker who’s app did exactly that? So what’s stopping some else from writing another one for the iPhone?

    Also, that’s all I hear now…that Apple and the iPhone and iPad are closed systems. So what is it that you all want to do on these devices that you can’t? Honestly, I can’t think of one thing I can’t do. But I’m not everyone.

  • Akshay Bhat

    Another important point is that due to its nature Android can never be a monopoly!
    IT’s as absurd as saying Linux will be a monopoly, In future even if Apple ends up with 90% market-share, I am sure regulators will catch up.

  • Chuck Todd

    What about BlackBerry?

  • joe c

    Apple’s philosophy has always been to make the best looking and most usable devices on the market to make the best user experience available. I think it’s absurd to think they want to dominate ANY market and along with that get governmental scrutiny.

    It’s childish of Google to say Apple is the evil dictator who wants everything and we’re the good guys. Bull. Google keeps expanding its presence. You’d think someone as caring and considerate as they profess to be would say “gosh, we’re already big enough, so let’s stop.” They just want a scapegoat to fire up the troops. To be honest, only the geeks will care about Apple vs. Android: the public doesn’t give a crap.

    And EVERY company’s goal is to make money. To have one obscenely profitable company (Google) cast aspersions upon another obscenely profitable company (Apple) is absurd. The question is how they choose to be profitable, and that’s what matters. Apple doesn’t even have marketshare approaching anything “monopoly” status.

    Apple and Android (RIM less so) are now so comparable that no one should really care if Apple says no to Flash: they have their reasons (Flash is a resource hog, and plugins are a pain they have a chance to start over and avoid), and if Flash means that much to you, you can pick Android or BlackBerry.I’m not going to yell and scream at Google for not giving me a Windows 7 tablet: that’s what people REALLY want, not Chrome. Are you too dictatorial to give it to them?

    If Apple really wanted to “take over,” they’d drop their prices and mass market the crap out of everything. And sure they’d gain market share, but they couldn’t maintain their level of quality. The McDonalds and Wal-Marts of the world may have the money, but they sure don’t have any prestige or get much respect.

  • wjack23

    hello android linux is already multitask os. apple will be experiment that now. another thing even apple support html5. android already supported. the idea of android os is not features, is the users can create the apps at opensource code.

    steve jobs is only a cry baby since microsoft technically stole windows from apple. he need to understand this is linux future.

  • m.g. stevens

    After reading the main post, I wanted to write about how Mike seems to either totally misunderstand Apple and its users (in spite of claiming to be one) or, is just another media muckraker, needing something to write about.

    Now, after reading the comments, I feel that most readers have seen the light and there is no need to suggest that Mike stop drinking the kool-aid of the Apple-bashing set. I have been an Apple user since the II+ and feel that Apple simply gets what I want, technology that WORKS.

    A few years ago I really put effort into getting to know Linux, because of the promise of the sheer range of options available. After months of having that promise not quite met (with lost time, compiling, bugs, alpha/beta, features that sounded good in the goal sheet, etc), I turned off the linux box and that has been it to date.

    There is a place for open, web standards are valued by all, but when I want the damn thing to just WORK, I don’t care a whit about open. And work is what Apple products do. The slight premium I pay for that outcome is worth it to me. I always have my eyes open for something better, but what I have now is hard to beat. The rest of this is just some strange techno-bloodlust. Think about it this way Mike: You just inspired a new generation of bloggers with your half-baked efforts at analysis. If on the other hand, you were just tasked with getting a rise out of otherwise peaceful readers, you have been a smashing success!

  • Michaelok

    Vic’s daughter is right: she wants the toy that can run her favorite online games. That’s going to be an Android phone, not an iPad or an iPhone. Apple is insisting on playing the game in a way that they can only lose.

    If she just wants a toy to play games, maybe a Sony PSP is a better bet. But if she wants applications, then she wants the iPhone. That may change in the future, hence the “that’s going to be” might be correct, but right now Apple owns the developer market. I don’t know if you use an iphone, but some of the apps out there are unbelievable, and android has had a bit of a rocky start, but they’ll get there. Unfortunately, they don’t have the advantage of owning the platform that Microsoft once did, so this is a different ball game.

  • m.cooper

    Interesting point of view.

    However, the average non-tech consumer only cares about the user experience. Apple will continue to dominate because they really really get this key concept.

    “it just works” and thats really all the matters.

    When’s the last time you heard a non-tech consumer getting all excited about getting an Android phone?

  • Jim

    I am a developer and I will be developing for the iPad/iPhone/IPod touch exclusively. I can then take our products to Mac OS X since iPhone OS and Mac OS X are based on the same core. Why? A huge, integrated, rapidly expanding market across multiple devices. Also, I can use open platforms such as openGL for scientific visualization. In addition, I really like Xcode. The vertical market will be huge for Apple along with enormous consumer demand.

    I have no interest in the smaller, fragmented Android market. It amazes me that tech pundits can get it so wrong.

  • Bubbles

    Mike, you remind of a person who is spends too much time in the bubble called “Silicon Valley” who wants to be another prophet. Most people’s self image is that they want to be seen as having the right answers (instead of posing the right questions). You would be good on Wall Street (trying to guess what is next in the financial context).

  • hector

    I’ve had a laugh at the “apple just works” comments (they’re a lot, btw).

    Implying that Android doesn’t “just work” means one of two things:
    a- you’re a fanboy.
    b- you’ve never seen an Android phone.

    You can say you prefer one or another, but that “just works” thing is pure bs.

  • m.cooper

    I have 2 android based phones in my household (HTC and a Samsung), so I’ve seen, used, and to my disappointment suffered. Neither Android provide a “just works” experience. I’m talking from a non-tech consumer perspective. My wife and daughter don’t care about the hardware specs, open source, or the evil intent of Apple or Google.

    they just want
    easy to download music, movies, videos
    easy to download apps and games (apps that don’t crash the OS – We had this happen twice with different apps)
    easy to organize photos and sync with main computer
    easy to sync address book

    they don’t want
    to buy, install, format, and mount a SD card
    to manually organize and copy content (music, movie, photos, etc) on the device and again on the desktop.
    to reboot to use a bluetooth headset

    They just want a cool, fun, and easy to use device that “just works”. And our experience has been that the current Andriods offer a subpar iPhone experience.

    I have an iPhone for work and it truely gives a much better “just works” experience.

    Perhaps the new Androids will be better.

  • Andre

    Funny, Microsoft is not mentioned. What will become of their business model moving forward?

  • Scott W

    I’m voting with Rale (above) on this: the whole open vs closed argument is absurd. The only people who *really* care about that are the tiny but loud tech blogger group. Your mom and all her friends, all of the city employees, all of the short-order cooks, and nearly everyone in congress couldn’t care less. They’re going to buy whatever they think is shinier. They just want to play Plants vs Zombies.

    If you want open, make something and use it. Even as a developer I couldn’t care less about openness—as long as I’ve got a good API and decent development tools, I’m going to write code for whatever platform I like the most.

  • lbrooks

    @Wayne
    “Google does not make money from placing ads, they make money selling information about you. And that is what they wish to dominate: your likes, dislikes, and any and all information about you, so that they can sell your specific eyes to advertisers.”

    Don’t be stupid. Google profits from all the information it gets from very large groups of people. This is information is not used to identify you personally.

    But hey, making up shit is allowed whenever you are defending Apple so carry on.

  • Danilo

    Where’s the flattr button?

  • Raj Menon

    Fundamentally, this entire thing on Apple Vs Adobe is just a smokescreen. The entire argument on open Vs closed is redundant if you can remain platform agnostic. Brilliantly captured by in this post by Steve Cheney.
    http://stevecheney.posterous.com/the-genius-in-apples-vertical-platform

  • Anton

    Well, Apple’s theory about “stupid users that have to be chaperoned at every step they take, and worthless developers knowing nothing about UI, usability and such” might not be so wrong… At least I regard this as an integral part of the iPhone’s goodness.

  • Manvendra Kumar

    Nice and long debatable discussion. But I believe it not more than a job for analyst/writers, entertainment for readers and publicity for both Google and Apple. I will just like to put the basics first, businesses are for profits. And how it comes is based on who executes the business. So what Google or Apple does is nothing more than execution of a profit making plan with different approaches that sounds good for each of them and indeed none of them care what we think about it.

    And no doubt both are good organizations with certain principle and values as well. I personally like both of them and believe let them do their best what they think is best. The final decision makes is the mass and in fact who is going is win? No one knows (may be God but indeed not Mike :))…..

    So don’t be upset if you love Apple or Google, being human it is our basic nature to defend and boost what we love and also we all do not love just one thing………

  • dharmarules

    Everyone knows when the new iphone is coming out (early summer) each year. It should surprise no one that android sales outsold the 3GS, which was almost a year old. Let’s see how those android sales numbers stack up once the Phone 4 is released end of june.

    Lets not forget that webkit, which powers safari, and chrome was an open standard heavily influenced and promoted by Apple. They’re doing the same with HTML5.

    I’ve also been noticing that people have been hacking their android phones. If Android is so open, why the need to root the phone?

  • AndroidCoreDump

    I hate Google and I really do hope that Apple ultimately kills that company. It would be sweet if Apple could steal away their ad market and neuter the whole thing. First mobile, and then branch out to the stationary web.

  • Fnordius

    The comment made at Google I/O about buying Android may seem directed at Apple in hindsight, but as so many note now thew iPhone wasn’t even on the market then. However, Microsoft had just beaten Palm in the PDA market, and Nokia was the monster dominating the upscale cell phone market. Google was most likely worried in general about a mobile OS monopoly, and Google’s revenue depends upon the Internet being open so that they don’t have to bribe for access.

    If you ask me, the whole Apple versus Google battle is a shadow boxing match, a clever ruse to disguise how both companies successfully made Microsoft into a has-been. I suppose the next step will be when Ubuntu starts to take over the home desktop/laptop market, the tipping point when most games are also released for it.

  • Applesauce

    These comments are hilarious. Just look at the Apple peeps just absolutely frothing at the mouth at the slightest critique on anything that begins with an “i”. I’m starting to think Apple supporters are a cult. Apple makes some cool stuff, but give me a break.

  • iluvuillkillu

    Adobe Flash is a great platform its everywhere, i am sad that u hate flash. Anyways iam happy that iphone 4 is a failing and Android is becoming a hit.

  • Orpheus

    You said “though I am also very unhappy with the closedness of the Apple platform, and the way they treat their developers.”

    Can you please elaborate on what you are referring to? How are they treating their developers? I am guessing that you are talking about 3rd party developers. How is Google doing better in this regard?

    • http://radar.oreilly.com/mikel Mike Loukides

      Sure. If you develop for the iPhone, you’re limited to Objective-C and HTML5. The SDK license agreement pretty much forbids anything else. You’ve got to use Apple’s tools, or keep out. (Let’s not get into the review process, which is silly and arbitrary). Treat developers like adults; let them choose their own tools, let them build their own tools.

      In contrast, on Android: you can of course use Java and HTML5. But you can also use Flash (as I’ve said, I don’t like Flash, but I don’t like vendors telling Flash developers that they’ve have to stay off the platform); Google just started testing a great new experimental tool called App Inventor that really lowers the bar, allowing casual users to develop apps; you can use Ruby (via the Ruboto app); you can use Clojure; there’s a native interface to C; I just googled “Python and Android”, and found that Python is a possibility; and I’ve heard rumbles that lead me to expect an explosion of new tools and languages for the Android platform in the coming year.

      Treating developers with respect implies, to me, giving them a choice of tools, and giving them the freedom to build their own tools, and letting them make their own mistakes, even if that results in a mediocre application. And if they build poor apps, a “free” market should sort that out.

  • http://www.24hourmedicalresponse.com/ Charlie Bravo

    Google vs Apple! The battle of the tech giants..

  • http://www.mbe.ro Ciprian Mocanu

    I only want to say this:

    I’ve been using Apple products for a year now (macbook pro and iphone) and I couldn’t be happier. It’s hard to understand until you get the hang of it but their products “really work”.

    I was very sceptic at first. I actually even disliked apple for a while (maybe because I was a flash developer) but after windows completely f***** me over I switched to Linux and later to a Mac. The best OS is definetely Linux but OSx just gives that better experience. As for the iphone… after using the first one for 6 months I could not get by without it (it was hard when I accidentally dropped it from a 4 stories high building).

    My parents have an android and a blackberry. The blackbery loses a lot in the usability part (I tried a simple action as changing the password for the email account and it took me 30 minutes – and I’m a developer, so I know my way around a phone). Android is good, definetely competition for Apple but what Android lacks is that Apple “feel”, that smile that you get when you use an iphone against an android powered phone.

    Google vs Apple will be the final battle (or so I see it) but Google is losing ground, especially since their latest updates to the search engine. Google used to be a simple search engine but it seems that now they are all but that. I don’t like google search (although i use it because i have nothing else to use) because it gives me mostly outdated search results and all results are mostly tempered not be what I want (what i searched for) but just top ranked.

    I don’t know if most of what I said maked a lot of sense. I just wanted to make some points about why I like Apple and why I dislike Google.

  • http://www.freecallshub.com Mukesh

    Mike, I am very happy with my MacBook, iPhone as well as Time Capsule. I totally agree with you that the customers usually should have a say in the decision process when they are paying for what they are getting. However, I believe since we would not have a say in the surgery same analogy applies here too. A computer is no less than a part of your body. Therefore, I am of the opinion that if Apple products always adhere to the standards they have set, I would not complain.

  • Joe

    “Google’s technology is way ahead of anything Apple is offering, or likely to offer.”

    LOL! Who the hell are you kidding. Google’s technology is dime store shit. The can’t even make a mobile OS that scrolls smoothly, or does anything smoothly. Android, one of their technologies, is a hideous, choppy, laggy, overly complicated, fragmented mess of a system.

    That’s just one example. Besides, the author is right about one thing. Google doesn’t give a damn about anything but ad revenue. That’s what they are.

  • http://www.freecallinghub.com/ Abhishek

    Hey Mike, I must say that my vote is for Apple because i am very happy with my iPhone, MacBook Pro and iPad, Apple really gives you what they get from you…..