Google Versus Apple

July 14, 2011

Google Versus Apple

Apple and Microsoft have been battling it out since the two companies were formed. In the world of computers, Microsoft has been the clear winner for a very long time. However, computers are not the only market where the two companies compete. Two other big areas are portable audio and cell phones. Microsoft has never been successful at matching Apple’s success in these markets.  Although the Microsoft Zune and Windows 7 phones are very good products, they have never gained anywhere the popularity of  Apple’s iPod and iPhone.

In the last few years, however, there has been one company who has not only been able to compete with Apple in the cell phone market, they have taken the number one spot away from Apple. That company is Google. Google’s Android operating system has unseated the iPhone as the best-selling smart phone.

What has separated Apple from the pack in the past is their goal to create products that are simple and easy to use, even for the common, no so gadget-minded person. They do this not only through the design of the product, through control of how the product is used. For example, with the iPhone, Apple has worked very hard to restrict which applications you can download and install on your iPhone. They also control the App Store and make it very hard for you to use any application other than those on their App Store.  You can “jailbreak” your iPhone so that you can use other applications, but it’s a complicated process and you risk voiding your warranty. Because of that, most people won’t do it. Google’s Android phone, on the other hand, is not only very configurable, it’s not restricted like the iPhone is either.

Another example of Apple’s control is on the iPod. You MUST use iTunes to load music onto your iPod. Other mp3 players on the market allow you to manually drag and drop music. You can also use any of the slew of media players for Windows to load your mp3 player. But you can only use iTunes with an iPod.

Apple’s strategy has obviously worked well for them in the past, but that may be coming to an end. Apple’s target market is people who are intimidated by gadgets and people who are technology challenged. But that part of the population is declining. With each new generation, there are more and more people who grew up with this technology. Those people want features and flexibility. They aren’t afraid of technology. In fact, they embrace it. Apple is simply going to have to change their strategy if they are going to compete with Google.

Apple’s latest success has been the iPad. It uses the same operating system as the iPhone, so it has the same restrictions and control. It has been very successful, but it’s about to be unseated just like the iPhone was. How, you might ask? Google’s Android operating system that runs on phones is being used on tablets now. A comparison in a recent issue of “Maximum PC” magazine compared the Motorola Xoom (a tablet running Android) with Apple’s iPad 2. Out of seven categories, they tied in a one category. The iPad 2 won two categories. But the Android tablet won the other four categories and was chosen as the overall favorite.

Are we saying Apple products are bad? Certainly not! Apple products are very good. Especially for those who are intimidated by technology. All we are saying is that Apple is going to have to change their strategy because their target market is shrinking.

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