Have you noticed how much the largest technology companies that swirl around the Applesphere have begun to march down the same road? Sure, they all want more revenue and profits; they all want more influence on the industry.
Why are they marching down the same road? Where is the road going? What other companies are on that road? So many questions. So few answers. One thing is clear; tech giants don’t mind a little competition amongst themselves.
Let’s look at those technology giants around the Applesphere. I use that term because I’m somewhat Apple centric but it applies because these are competitors to Apple. Our favorite Mac maker makes hardware. That’s where the profits come from. Services? Sure, but the revenue and profits there are based upon hardware. Apple is a hardware company.
Google is an advertising company. That’s where the revenue and profits come from. Microsoft is a software company. That’s where most revenue and profits come from. Amazon is an online store, and despite its foray into technology goods, it sells mostly products made by other companies.
So, why are these companies competing against each other? And which one competes best but also the least? I know. More questions, right?
Google is in the hardware business with Pixel phones and Home speakers and Nest and a few other gadgets that don’t sell in numbers that compete against Apple. Microsoft is in the hardware business with the Surface line of PCs and other accessories that don’t sell in numbers or profit that compete against Apple. Even Amazon is in the hardware business with Fire tablets and Echo and other goodies that, again, compete against Apple but not in a meaningful way, either with revenue or profits.
In some ways, Apple is the least competitive of the companies that work so diligently to be more like Apple. For example, Apple allows Google apps on iPhone and iPad, and uses Google as the default search engine on Safari. But Apple does not have its own search engine or competitive ad business, and few Apple apps show up on Google’s Android platform.
Apple allows Microsoft applications on Mac, iPhone, and iPad. How many Apple apps are there on Windows? iTunes? Anything else? See? Apple allows competition against itself from Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and others, but seldom ventures into their domains.
HomePod and Amazon Echo are good examples. HomePod is all about the Apple ecosystem while Echo and Alexa are platform agnostic, so to speak. Echo is an inexpensive device that is all about Alexa smarts, while HomePod is another piece of hardware that fits only within Apple’s own ecosystem. For now. Remember, the iPod was Mac only back in 2001, so look for Apple to expand how HomePod can be used in the future.
HomePod is all about speaker sound and Apple ecosystem integration– with enough Siri smarts to make it useful. Amazon’s Echo devices are more about Alexa smarts and speaker quality is an afterthought (if it was a thought at all).
Apple’s strategy is clear. More hardware that integrates well within the ecosystem and attaches to Apple services– Apple Music and Apple TV and AirPlay, as examples. Amazon, Google, Microsoft et al compete against Apple’s ecosystem which is more of a sticky affair for customers, where the investment for entry is easier than the cost of leaving. HomePod is merely another example of Apple’s strategy to provide customers with integrated products and services that compete against the others but in an entirely different manner; which explains why Apple doesn’t have a Bing or a grocery store.