June 29, 2010

Google vs. Apple strategies

DISCLAIMER: Forgive my ignorance. I realised when I thought of this post's topic that I often write about things that other internet bloggers know so much more about. Others write much more eloquently than me and have far more insight. As such, all I can do for you here is tell you my opinion on subjects that catch my fancy. Hopefully it gets you to read up more on the subject and develop an opinion on the subject yourself. With that, here's what I have to say about Apple vs. Google's strategies:

I get most of my gadget news from Engadget through my RSS feed. Most of their information revolves around cell phones and every rumor of every new piece of hardware or software released is analysed up the wazoo. But they also touch on bigger topics that affect the gadgeting world. One that has greatly intrigued me is product development strategies from an industry perspective. When the major players in the tech world make product decisions it not only affects their company's direction, but also the direction of the industry as a whole. Like I've said before, the tech world is a rapidly morphing industry and an innovative vision is crucial to keeping your company alive in the long term.

By far and away the two most innovative, visionary and influential companies right now are Google and Apple. Both these organisations have a real knack for determining what consumers do want and what they will want. In some ways their approaches are very similar. They both create slick, easy to use products. Their focus is not only on image, but also on functionality and both have excelled in this department. But recently it's the substantial differences between the two CEOs' visions that has the tech world buzzing. While Google promotes open platform systems and encourages independent developers to create an identity for their product, Apple operates a very tightly controlled, ultra-restrictive atmosphere. So which one is better in the long run?

Once again, I'm going to have to side with Google. Not that I have anything against Apple's products. I own several Mac products and love them all! But in my opinion their law suit loving, Adobe Flash hating ways aren't helping the industry evolve naturally and fully. There are a few examples of Apple's excessive restrictions that I'd like to point out here.

1. Adobe Flash
Everything on the internet seems to use Flash. It has become a staple for applications and videos on every site you visit because it is the bet product on the market. However, Apple comes along and says they will not have any Flash compatibility on the iPad and now expects everybody to follow their lead and adopt HTML5 instead. Thankfully, not everyone's towing the line and instead just going with the best product available. In contrast to Apple's hard line, most Google products are compatible with both HTML5 and Flash and the developer/end user gets to choose which one suits their needs. Apple has the whole internet at their beck and call. Is that OK? Are they pretty much running a monopoly of the tech world?

2. iAd
There has been much debate recently about Apple's decision to restrict advertising abilities on the new iPhone 4. The restrictions essentially eliminate any advertising capabilities from the competition (Google, Microsoft and others) and limits the abilities of the independent developers to generate revenue as well. Of course, the iPhone is so awesome and superior to any other phone that developers will jump through whatever hoops Apple presents just to get in on the action. But is this best for the tech industry? Should Steve Jobs alone be controlling and directing the industry?

3. Law suits
It seems like a week can't go by without Apple suing some company or another for infringing on their patents or for thinking about something that might be similar to one of their patents. The worst law suit that I can think of (of the top of my head) was when Jobs and co. sued The Beatles' Apple Records because of their use of an apple as a logo. Steve Jobs presumed that since he was now in the music business (with the iTunes Store) that anybody else in the music industry with an apple logo had to give it up. Even if they were there first. Lame. This is definitely an overuse of power and shows how far Apple will go to monopolize every industry they touch.

All these points combined lead to one main issue: competition. We've seen problems with limited competition in the computer world before. Microsoft pretty much had a monopoly of the personal computer sector since its creation. Their tactics were to buy out smaller competitors and sue the little guys that they couldn't buy out. Granted, that was a very different situation but how did that all work out?

Creating open platforms essentially gives these companies a lot of employees that will work for free. Not being a developer myself, it's hard to comment confidently, but are independent developers essentially that? The developer ends up making money for both the client and themselves, but they're not earning a salary from the client. In other words, Apple or Google doesn't pay someone to create an app for them, it's done pro bono. Apple, of course, is all about developers creating apps, but only on their conditions. Their very strict conditions. And don't make a misstep cause they'll probably sue you!

Anyways, I'm in way over my head here. This stuff is all very complicated and I only learn about it form blogs and other biased sources. As the disclaimer said, I just write about things that interest me even though I probably have no right to comment on them. If you've read this far through my ramblings and not gotten bored, confused or fallen asleep then I'm impressed. Hopefully this blog-writing learning curve is rather steep and I will learn to be more coherent and cohesive for you all in the very near future! ;)

BOTTOM LINE: Apple should stop being jerks and let the tech/gadget/computer world accelerate at its own pace and on its own terms. You're not the boss of me, Steve!


  1. I kind of wonder, without someone big like apple making a big push for HTML5, doesn't adobe have the whole internet at their beck and call, and maybe aren't they the ones who have a monopoly on the whole tech world? At least HTML5 is an open standard.

    Can't you still put non-"iAd" ads in your iphone apps if you want??

    I definitely agree, it is a complex issue, and an important one, which I don't know the answers to.

    Bottom line: There are a million other non-apple phones and a million other non-apple computers out there... feel free to spend your time and money buying and developing for that ;)

  2. Adobe v HTML5: While I was writing I too was thinking about whether Adobe had a monopoly. It's kind of true, but I consider it different because adobe has simply created the best product. So everyone wants to use it. They haven't abused their power. Like I said, I've never developed an app or any web content so I'm probably out of the loop and reading more now about html5, it sounds like it's a great, all-encompassing, game-changing standard. So maybe my argument should just be that Adobe shouldn't be cut off. Allow both flash and html5 and see which one wins out.

    With regards to the ads, I think I misunderstood the issue. You're right, you can put non-iAd ads in your apps. I was thinking of the restrictions on stats collecting. Only independent devs can collect stats on their ads and thus market properly. So Google and Microsoft cannot collect stats. This seems like it's a smart practice since Google and Microsoft are direct competitors in the mobile world, but apparently it might not even be legal (http://tinyurl.com/3768f4p) and I personally don't think it helps consumers get the best apps and the most applicable ads.

    I think that if the restrictions get to be too much, it won't take much for Apple to start to slide and others to take over. People will start going to non-apple phones and non-apple computers. Devs go where they can make money and for the time being, that's still Apple. But maybe just for the time being.