Seldom have two competing technology companies had different business models and product development strategies than Apple vs. Google. The former is a gadget maker. The latter is an advertising company.
Where do they compete? Obviously, there is ongoing competition between iOS and Android OS, and macOS and Chrome OS, but Google also makes hardware that competes directly with Mac, iPhone, iPad, HomePod, et al. Why?
Try This, Please
Apple makes the vast majority of the company’s revenue and profits the old fashioned way. Hardware sales. Yes, Services is growing and highly profitable, but where would it be without 1.5-billion pieces of Apple hardware in the wild?
Google makes the vast majority of the company’s revenue and profits via advertising. The company distributes free software and in exchange it collects information from each user and that data then is used against those users via manipulative advertising. It’s an indirect approach, yes, but highly successful.
So, why does Google sell hardware?
First, the search engine giant makes so much profit on advertising that it can. Second, the company’s product development process remains almost the antithesis of Apple Inc.
Shotgun vs. sniper shot.
In a strange way, Google’s process to develop new products– hardware or software– is more akin to Samsung than Apple. Samsung sells hardware– from washers and dryers to chips to smartphones to PCs and refrigerators. To use an age old metaphor, the Korean conglomerate throws new hardware products up against the wall to see what sticks.
Google uses a shotgun. The company tries many different hardware and software products. That explains the hundred or so dead or dying products on the website Killed By Google. That shotgun approach does not compare well to Apple’s sniper approach.
Apple sells more iPhones in a week than Google sells Pixel smartphones in a year, despite growing accolades on the phone’s camera software. Apple ships a new piece of hardware and then improves the software multiple times each year, and every year or so ships an upgraded version of the hardware to match.
Shotgun vs. sniper. The analogy fits.
That brings me to an issue of trust. Why would someone buy a product from a company that kills products with such abandon? While it’s true that Apple kills hardware and software products, too– so does Samsung– Google’s entire product line is suspect for longevity because hardware is not part of the business model. Yes, the company wants to diversify, but so far the hardware game has been mostly a failure that has not connected with the great masses of tech gadget buyers.
Despite immense competition, iPhone rules the smartphone hardware industry. iPad rules the tablet industry. The Mac’s profits are equal to the entire PC industry’s profits, despite Microsoft’s growing Surface line. Apple Watch? Tops. AirPods? Tops. Beats headphones? Tops.
I understand the need for a company to diversify. I understand that many products are developed that never make it to market. But I prefer Apple’s approach of finely integrated hardware and software to the shotgun or mud-on-the-wall approach of Google and Samsung.