They say, ‘clothes make the man,’ implying that change is possible. They also say, ‘once a snake, always a snake.’ And, I’ve heard ‘a leopard can’t change its spots.’ Google has tried to be like Apple. Now it’s trying again.
No Mo Moto
Remember Motorola? Back in the day Motorola was king and cool and hot. All at the same time, thanks to being an early entrant to cellphones, thanks to the Razr flipphone, and, well, that was then and this is now. Google spent billions on Motorola, stripped off some patents, and discarded the steaming corpse; now zombie-like on TV with real commercials for products I have yet to see in the wild.
Google’s purchase of Motorola was a classic failure. Why? Google is an advertising company that gives away free software in exchange for the right to stalk you while you’re online. Despite tens of billions spent to diversify the company, 90-percent of revenue and profits come from search. Wait. What about Google Nest? What about Google Pixel?
Uh huh. What about them? They’re in the bottom of Google’s profit pile and the recent purchase of the once high-flying HTC smartphone maker won’t change anything.
Google is not like Apple so it cannot be like Apple.
Fair enough. But what makes them different? If I have to explain it to you then I’m engaging in an exercise of futility, but since I get paid by the word, hey, why got give it a whirl.
Apple is a hardware company. Yes, Apple makes software. Every Apple hardware gadget has some software designed by Apple, ostensibly in California, but the question of whether Apple is a hardware company or software company has been settled. Apple makes most of its tens of billions of profits each year from selling hardware; Mac, iPhone, iPad, Watch, Apple TV, AirPods, Beats headphones, accessories, et al. You know. Hard stuff.
Wait. What about the rapidly growing Services division at Apple? Honestly, it’s little more than a catch all category for everything else Apple sells; Apple Pay, iTunes, Apple TV, Apple Stores, and more. But if Apple didn’t sell hardware would Services exist? No.
That means Apple has plenty of experience at designing and integrating hardware and software, plenty of experience at designing and manufacturing hardware that is easily differentiated from competitors hardware products, most of which rely on Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows for the software components. Apple has no such reliance because Apple designs and builds the whole widget, so to speak.
Now, let’s compare that to efforts from Microsoft and Google to be like Apple.
Microsoft has retails stores. Apple has retail stores. Which one has customers? Microsoft designs and gets manufactured a line of Surface PCs running Windows. Funny thing. True store. Surface sales are going down the drain along with the traditional PC business. Meanwhile, Apple cannot manufacture hardware fast enough.
Google has Pixel phone. Have you seen anyone with Pixel? The Pixel? Sure, the hardware is nice, and Google packed plenty of features inside, but if it’s such a great phone then why is Google buying HTC’s remnants? When Google has a store in the mall and people flock to it then I’ll consider Google a worthy competitor to Apple’s dominance.
Trying to be like Apple hasn’t made Google the same as Apple.
Here’s another tidbit. What is Apple’s biggest and most successful product? iPhone. Duh. But everything else Apple sells also sells at great profit to the company. The most is iPhone, but the Mac pushes record levels every quarter. Apple has somewhere around 250-million iPad users. Watch is at the top of the smartwatch game. Even Apple TV owns the lion’s share of revenue and profits among less expensive streaming TV competition.
Apple is diversified. Google is not. Apple is patient and adds products and services when it wants to and when they integrate so well their purchase is a no-brainer. Google, in Samsung’s vein, throws products against the wall to see what sticks. It’s a time honored and inefficient way to make money, and for some it works. But that’s not Apple.
So, Google is not like Apple and not likely to ever be anything like Apple other than profitable and recognizable.