I didn’t watch the livestream of the Google IO event. I didn’t find out until late yesterday that it was live via YouTube. Besides which, I wouldn’t have wanted to devote hours and hours to watching that.
Anyway, it seems the war is now openly declared, if Dan Lyons (aka Fake Steve Jobs) is to be believed:
The most telling thing to me was Google’s tone toward Apple at the event. Instead of pretending to still be an Apple ally, Google today basically threw down the gantlet and admitted that it’s engaged in total war with Apple.
And unlike other Apple rivals, like Adobe, Google execs weren’t huffing and puffing and wringing their hands about Apple’s bad behavior. No, instead, Google was mocking Apple. Making fun of it. Laughing at it.
That excerpt from a column where he states he’s dropping his iPhone and switching to Android!
December 12th, 2009: The Ugliest Fight Ever: Apple Versus Google
Things have changed since that post. It’s clear that the mobile Internet will reach a point where its use is greater than that from desktops. That will change the evolution of hardware greatly.
One of the weakest links for all three mobile OSes — iPhone, Android, and webOS — is video. HTML5 is not the solution to that.
Like many people, I have a ton of video that’s encoded in DiVX/XViD AVI. I’m not about to spend hours converting that to MP4 and wind up with two copies of everything.
Stop and think about that a moment: How much of a success would the iPod have been if people were required to convert their MP3s to AACs?
Right now, the only company with killer video playback software is Archos. According to jkk, that Archos software is native code, which means it’s not dependent on Android to run.
It’s clear that Apple is not about to permit any video software on iPhone OS other than its own iPod software, otherwise we would have seen vlc for iPhone ages ago. And if that was a matter of codec licensing, then a paid version of Coreplayer with the licensed codecs baked in. It might mean something that we haven’t seen these two programs for either Android or webOS, either. (And yet, I can use TCPMP — the free version of CorePlayer — to watch DiVX/XViD AVI video on my 400MHz ancient PalmOS LifeDrive just fine!)
So that leaves Archos in the video catbird seat.
Which makes me wonder if either Google or HP have considered licensing the software from Archos. Or if Archos would shun licensing to hold onto its advantage in the marketplace. And if Archos were to do that, would either company want to acquire Archos outright?
But video is only one aspect of this battle.
It’s the mobile Internet that really matters.
The two points of view are this:
Apple: Our apps provide better access to the Net than the Net itself.
Google: The Net itself is the Killer App.
In the short term, Apple is correct. In the long term, it’s a losing battle.
Apple positioning itself as a gatekeeper to the Net is unsustainable. And while apps have advantages, when games are removed from the picture, what are the advantages of an app over a well-designed mobile website which doesn’t require Apple’s permission to access?
In fact, Apple’s current advantage only holds when it comes to phones. As people have discovered, the larger screen of the iPad tends to make people believe that dedicated apps for publications just don’t make sense when compared to accessing a website. And as I asserted yesterday, we’ll eventually see books liberated from dedicated apps too.
All of this, right now, is nothing but drawing the battle lines. None of this will produce a clear “winner” (I hate that term) for another three to five years. But any company that tries to corral the Net for its own private advantage — and that includes Google too! — is bound to, and this term is deserved and accurate, lose.