Apple Versus Google: Total Frikkin War

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.

9 responses to “Apple Versus Google: Total Frikkin War

  1. There are decided advantages to having apps instead of websites for many things, no matter how well designed the websites are.

    I’ve spent the past four years working with Ajax based application building and I know what they are capable of, but the thing is that there are times when you just don’t have a connection.

    What good is a book reader, if you can’t read the books because you can’t get online? What good are those online notes about the flight you need to catch, if you can’t read them when you are about to do a check in?

    Would you really want to stream all your videos all the time? Would that really be better than having the ability to store the videos on your device to watch regardless of a connection being available?

    Google and Apple are at war, that is for certain. Google is moving into Apple’s turf with the OS and the devices it spurs, but I don’t think that that is the only battle ground where they will meet. I feel certain that Apple is going to take the fight to Google’s turf with a stronger push in the online applications arena, in the not too distant future.

  2. But it’s still about profits.

    Apple is the gatekeeper in its walled garden. They control the flow of money. They profit on the sale of the devices, and the apps, movies, music and books for their devices.

    Google is not making the phone, only the OS, for the most part. Not much profit there. Are they ready to get into music/movie deals with the studios? What about books? What about apps? Things with them seem all over the place with that ecosystem. There is no hand guiding what’s going on. Some would say that’s what’s great about it. But that system has to deliver profits for Google. Apple has very tight control on the profits they make. Google does not outside of search ads.

    Maybe I’m being simplistic, but Apple seems in a much better position, especially with the average consumer, than Google. Google may win the geek crowd, but that’s not how you make money. Look at Linux.

    Apple also has one thing that the cell phone manufacturers will never have: they control every aspect of the device: form, function and OS. They have 30 years of design and GUI experience under their belt. They take the time to get it right and that makes for a much better experience. I have always said of Apple that they don’t provide the most features but they do provide the best usability and experience. It’s pretty obvious as they head closer to MSFT’s market cap that that equals profits.

    My two cents.

  3. >>>What about books?

    Are you kidding or what? Google has just about stolen all of book history with Google Book Search!

  4. Gotta agree with Blad_rnr, Apple has focus and revenue from several sources and a good balance between left/right brain. Google plays to the geeks but is all over the board and is totally left brained. Google needs to keep their ad revenues flowing on into mobile otherwise they’re hurtin. Right now,money-wise, they’re a one trick pony and they still might be even if success with the other initiatives. A somewhat tenuous position to be in, one glitch and their revenue peak/decline.

  5. Sorry, but Google does not have every book available.

    For textbooks, for example, which are the most profitable book lines, Google hardly has any book available for reading.

  6. What OS so funny is that Google left China open for Apple by leaving China.

    Apple is poised to go where no US tech company has had success: China. Apple already makes billions from China.

    Google is posed to be the Microsoft of the Internet. Apple, of course, remains Apple – the Company Microsoft and Google love to copy.

  7. Mike, how do you propose that publications make money thru the web except thru a locked down one which is so 80’s. And who want to pay to read contents.

    How about some ideas other than suggesting this and that without any solution.

  8. Go read my reply again.

  9. See here:

    The post is titled QUESTION, not ANSWER.