In other words, if a potential customer spends money anywhere else, wherever that money went is competition. Thankfully, most companies don’t view competition that way, which explains why Google isn’t really Apple’s competitor.
Customer vs. User
Wait. What? Doesn’t Google sell hardware? Doesn’t Apple sell hardware? Doesn’t that make them head-to-head competitors? Not really. Apple, for example, might sell upwards of 250-million iPhones in 2018. Google might sell upwards of a half a dozen million. Google only sold about 4-million Pixels in 2017. Apple sells that many in a week. Samsung sells even more.
Google is not Apple’s competitor in smartphones, tablets, or personal computers because Google doesn’t sell enough of them for Apple to notice or care. Apple is a hardware company. Google is a search engine advertising company that dabbles in hardware.
Doesn’t Google’s Android OS compete with Apple’s iPhone? Yes. And no. This is the old Windows vs. Mac debate from years ago. Windows is an operating system. The Mac is a personal computer line. They are not the same. But, competitive? Only in the sense that Windows also powers traditional personal computers. Clearly, the Mac has differentiation that does not depend upon price. Windows PCs are differentiated more on price than anything else.
That’s how it works with Android OS vs. iPhone. Android is an operating system for smartphones. iPhone is a smartphone. Android devices are differentiated by price; pay more, get more. iPhones have differentiation, thanks to iOS and the Apple ecosystem, that does not require price as the determining factor.
Google has all kinds of hardware sales these day, and some would appear to compete with Apple’s hardware line. Google Home vs. HomePod. Pixel Slate vs. iPad Pro or MacBook. Pixel 3 vs. iPhone Xs. The differentiator here is that Apple tells the world how many Macs, iPhones, and iPads it sells each quarter while Google– like Amazon, Samsung, and most other hardware makers– remains silent.
First and foremost, Apple sells hardware. Google sells advertising. Their business models are not the same and not similar. Apple also sells services and the company’s fastest growing revenue and profit streams are just that– Services. iTunes, App Stores, Apple Pay, Apple Music, AppleCare, et al. But without hardware sales and a growing customer base, Services wouldn’t be much to look at.
Google’s advertising business, about 90-percent of all revenue and profits, is robust to the point of being a monopolistic danger to the rest of the industry. But Google’s hardware remains a tiny outlier blip on the radar; of little consequence to anyone except technology writers who need something to write about. When it comes to hardware sales, Google isn’t much competition to anyone.