Take Apple and Google. Or, Samsung and Microsoft. Or, switch them around because it doesn’t matter. They are not the same but they have similar objectives (beyond the standard of shareholder value). Each wants to compete in areas where they should not and do not compete well.
Hardware vs. Software
Google is an advertising company that dabbles in hardware and software. Samsung is a manufacturing conglomerate that specializes in nothing except hubris. Microsoft is a software company vainly attempting to transform itself; services, hardware, anything but Windows and Office.
How do they compare with Apple? There is no real comparison because Apple sells hardware and uses software to create the all important element of differentiation.
Google wants to sell hardware but does a lousy job of it. Why? Google is an advertising company. Its customers, other than the little hardware it sells it year, are advertisers. If you use Gmail, or Chrome, or Google search or whatever, you’re actually a user, not a customer, and that makes you part of Google’s product.
Apple sells hardware and succeeds at hardware sales because that’s why Apple has always been. A hardware manufacturer. Software and services go along for the ride, but hardware pays the bills.
Samsung is a hardware manufacturer but has absolutely no hardware focus. It sells everything from chips and displays to dishwashers to PCs to refrigerators to copiers and where Samsung fails is where Apple shines. Integrated software.
Microsoft built its fortunes on software, but as Windows wanes the company picked up the slack with services and hardware. Services makes money. Hardware? Not so much.
That brings me back to Google’s attempts to be more like Apple. What sets Google’s hardware apart from competitors is what sets Apple’s hardware apart from competitors. Software. What Apple has that Google does not have is a customer facing face. Apple has a face. Google does not. Ipso facto and alakazam– Google will never sell hardware as well as Apple. Ever. Never.
Hardware sales are not in Google’s DNA which is comprised of 90-percent advertising revenue and profits. Software is the free candy which attracts users to give up their personal information in exchange for privacy tooth decay and gum disease.
Apple is just better at getting customers to give up their money.