Microsoft and Samsung are players in the new mobile device wars, but the real David and Goliath battle is underway between Apple and Google, both Goliath-like, both David-like, both intent upon reaching their state objectives, with or without a partnership with the other.
For nearly 20 years I watched the now quaint battles between Apple and Microsoft, and, in the end, at least back in the early part of the century, it appeared as if Microsoft had won. Many industry watchers were wrong about that.
Then came a burgeoning mobile device industry and Apple gained prominence after catching a number of staid industries napping ad disrupted one after another; retail stores in malls, media players, online music stores, smartphones, tablets, and more.
Along the way, search engine giant Google became a friend and partner to Apple, but the romance was short-lived when Google, like Microsoft before it, went on a thieving rampage and lost focus and objectivity in an attempt to be all things to all people.
In recent years both Google and Apple have created popular ecosystems which dwarf competitors, and both do much the same thing, but in completely different ways. Google makes money by synthesizing your privacy and making you part of the product, while Apple makes money the old fashioned way– by selling a product you love to use.
Here’s a good example. Google VP Bradley Horowitz on the new Photos app:
The information gleaned from analyzing these photos does not travel outside of this product—not today. But if I thought we could return immense value to the users based on this data I’m sure we would consider doing that. For instance, if it were possible for Google Photos to figure out that I have a Tesla, and Tesla wanted to alert me to a recall, that would be a service that we would consider offering, with appropriate controls and disclosure to the user.
Alright, on the surface Google’s playful logo comes into the mix; ‘I have a Tesla, and Google can alert me.’ Sweet, right? Under the surface, having a company know that much about me can also be scary and creepy.
Here’s another example, but from the other side of the fence. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook speaking to a civil rights and privacy group:
Some of the most prominent and successful companies have built their businesses by lulling their customers into complacency about their personal information. They’re gobbling up everything they can learn about you and trying to monetize it. We think that’s wrong. And it’s not the kind of company that Apple wants to be. We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your e-mail, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for god knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.
Well, yes and no. Yes, some customers– Apple’s customers and those who switch from Google’s Android ecosystem to Apple’s walled garden ecosystem– see it for what it is. That leaves the great unwashed massed of humanity bathing themselves in Google’s ecosystem, and as the vampire-like Wraith of Stargate Atlantis harvested life from humans, Android customers are being harvested for their personal data, information that is dragged back to Google’s massive server farms to be refined for the benefit of advertisers.
Apple harvests data, too, but the approach is different. Apple wants to make Mac, iPhone, and iPad (and Watch) be the center of your personal data which stays on your device, or travels anonymously between devices without being filtered and examined by Apple but always available and usable– by the customer’s device.
What I tend to see when examining the objectives and methodologies of each company is simple. Apple’s business model attracts the hearts and minds of thoughtful, considerate, informed people who are concerned about their welfare and personal privacy; reflective of the company’s public soul, as it were. Google, on the other hand, is Skynet personified; a company whose soul is more algorithm than human. For much of humanity, this is a war of the heart.