Apple has over 1-billion customers. Google’s Android devices number over 2-billion so how is it that Apple keeps giving Android smartphone makers a big headache? Catching up to a moving target is not easy.
Apple co-founder Steve Jobs once quoted from hockey legend Wayne Gretzky, “I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.” In other words, Apple keeps moving forward while competitors skate to where Apple was.
Think about the smartphone industry before Jobs introduced the original iPhone in 2007. Those so-called smart phones were not so smart. They were a pain in the patootie to use; every keyboard and screen was different, and no two models worked the same way. It was a train wreck industry. Apple’s iPhone changed the industry and that gave Android its first headache.
Andy Rubin, once an Apple employee, started a smartphone company called Android which later was purchased by Google. When the iPhone was introduced Android looked much like BlackBerry back in the day.
The iPhone in 2007 represented the puck’s then current location. Everything else– Treo, BlackBerry, Windows, and Android– represented where the puck once was. After seeing the iPhone’s introduction, Google’s team started over on Android.
Almost two years later, long after Apple released iPhone 3G and was about to launch iPhone 3GS, Android’s first new generation iPhone hit the market. Look familiar?
Ever the copycat, Android’s early OS modeled iPhone but never skated to where the puck was going to be. Yes, Google bolted on hundreds of features in a vain attempt to differentiate Android OS from Apple’s ever changing iOS, but changes in both Android software and hardware have always been iterative, not disruptive, and not representative of where the puck would be in the future.
Along the road, Apple introduced Siri, launched Retina displays, and developed a fingerprint sensor that actually worked, all while Android, Samsung, and other copycats flailed about with bolted on differentiation that did little to move the industry forward. OLED displays? They were mostly crummy until an Apple-designed OLED arrived on iPhone X. Fingerprint scanners? Again, they didn’t work well and didn’t get used often until Apple’s Touch ID.
Guess which of these two smartphones point the way to the future?
Uh huh. We’ll all be using a stylus in a few years.
Likewise, facial recognition has been around for years but nobody used them because they didn’t work well. Read the reviews about Face ID on iPhone X. Apple keeps moving to where the puck will be while Google’s Android and Samsung duopoly keep skating to where the puck once was.
Apple’s iterative innovation works well with the company’s tradition of disruptive innovation. Touch ID-like fingerprint sensors are common on Android phones these days, but if you want to see Android’s future, look at iPhone X. It may take a few years but Android will catch up to where Apple’s puck once was.