The problem with news headlines and talking heads and media know-it-alls and critics and members of the technorati elite politburo is that there isn’t much insightful analysis of what’s really going on these days.
How else do you explain Donald Trump? How do you explain Apple’s anemic stock price? Common wisdom recently seems to be that Apple is getting its collective clock creamed or cleaned (Friday; mixed metaphor sale day) at the hands of Google, Samsung, Microsoft, Amazon, et al. Google provides the perfect example.
Hello! Anybody HomeKit?
This was Google’s week to take the headlines away from Apple’s misfortunes (which seems like an odd way to describe a company with such a large fortune) and that’s exactly what happened. Apple has a HomeKit promise while Google decided to copy Amazon’s Echo with Google Home.
They both work much the same way as ‘Hey Siri…’ does on my iPhone already, but this is much cooler because you need to buy yet another gadget. Google Home simply sits there, like Echo, and waits for a command or question. Uh, like ‘Hey Siri…’ on my always nearby iPhone.
That’s good for Google (and Amazon) because they get to sell people another device. Somehow it’s bad for Apple because Apple is the company that actually makes money by selling devices. Amazon is a store that sells mostly other people’s products and Google is an advertising company.
Still, Google Home and Amazon Echo are new and cool and the iPhone and Siri seem like relics from 1999.
What’s In A Name?
Google has always had a problem with product names. Google Play is a store. What’s Google Now? What’s Google+? At least Gmail is memorable. Isn’t Google Drive a self-driving car? Google Home has Google Assistant. That’s a crummy name for a talking box. Where’s the personality? The closest Google can get to personality is an android. Android came from Andy Rubin who used to work at Apple, so there.
What’s bad for Apple is that Siri hasn’t learned much since 2010, despite being much better at speech recognition and dictation. I don’t know how well Siri works in Scotland, Spanish, Japanese or other languages, but Midwestern English works. Every one of these so-called talking and listening intelligent assistants has a game, but it’s a low scoring affair with each one doing something better than the other, but even collectively not enough to make me spend money. Amazon’s Echo wants us to buy stuff online. Google’s Assistant wants to help, but all Google is doing is tracking us with ever more detail and data so ever more products can be placed in nearby ads to sell me stuff. How is that going to be good for me?
At least Siri doesn’t try to sell me stuff. I just wish Siri could be more useful.
Can You Help Me Now?
It’s good that Google wants to get into the Virtual Reality game with headset reference design that probably runs a version of Android, but you’d have thought Google would have learned something with Google Glass. Talk about creepy. Virtual reality is a cool demo and might be entertaining but those using it are incredibly stupid looking; from a visual perspective, of course (is that thing attached to your forehead sucking your brain dry?).
It’s good that Google tries to do new technology but it’s bad that Google has such a poor record selling new technology. It gives away Android. Google won’t say how many phones it sells each year but I’ve never ever seen anyone use one and I live in New York. It’s bad that Apple hasn’t done much with Siri and doesn’t seem poised to break into the Home or VR or Health or Security as much as it wants to continue to profit from iPhone sales but it’s hard to knock Apple’s business model even if the last quarter was an absolute disaster which barely made enough profit to top Google, Microsoft, Samsung, and Amazon. Combined.
Apple’s biggest problem in the marketplace isn’t Google. The former makes products. The latter just sells ads and spits out technology projects like digital public relations releases every few months, few of which stick in the public’s consciousness for long, and none of which make it to a store nearby.
Remember Touch ID? It just works. Remember Apple Pay? How cool is that? I hate watches. I love Apple Watch because it’s an extension of what’s important on my iPhone. And everything with an Apple logo works pretty well with other Apple logo devices. Everyone else wants to sell me a device that helps them to make money off my voice. At least Siri doesn’t try to sell me something every time I ask a question.