Skip to main content

The Proxy War Is Over: Google Needs To Front Up To Apple Now

pixel2

For the last eight years Google has been engaged in a proxy war with Apple, using OEMs like Samsung, Sony and HTC to prevent its Cupertino rival from taking over the mobile space and damaging its advertising business in what was the next big technology growth area.

With the launch of the Pixel, the damage that Samsung has taken from the Note 7 scandal, the winding back of Sony’s ambitions and the disappearance of HTC as a market force Google has put itself directly in the firing line. I don’t believe that it intended to do this quite so quickly.

In the past Google has been happy to load the bullets for Android OEMs to target Apple, its a strategy that has worked well for both sides. OEMs like Samsung and Huawei have grown massive smartphone businesses with much less effort than would have been required to start from scratch. Google has been able to hide from Apple’s lawsuits, which have had to target OEMs.

Of course the arrival of the Pixel and the changes wrought in Android over the last few years likely means that Google feels confident that Apple has no litigation avenues open against it. Important, because Google can’t afford to get into a battle for user loyalty with Apple, because it knows it’s a battle it will lose.

On the other hand a battle for smartphone customer dollars is something Google thinks it can win. It only needs to deliver hardware that it good enough, so long as its software offering outdoes Apple’s. Without having tried the Pixel its impossible to say whether it has succeeded, but the signs are good for Google. Especially as this is its first shot in the war that Apple has been fighting for several years.

For Apple the close integration of hardware and software, the platform control and overall quality of the experience has been more than enough to keep it ahead of Android, as shipped by OEMs. Android coming from Google is going to be a significantly different proposition.

For Google there is nowhere to hide. It controls the whole user experience and has no partners to shoulder the blame when things go wrong. For Apple that’s business as normal, for Google that might turn out to be a bit of a shock.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

F1: Robert Kubica Impresses In Renault Test Run

The car may be old but its the performance of the driver that's the story here. Robert Kubica returned to F1, after a fashion, earlier this week with an extensive test run in a 2012 Lotus Renault F1 car at Valencia.
The age of the car and the circuit were likely determined by F1's current rules which ban testing, but the reason for Kubica being in the car is far more interesting. Considered by many to be a potential World Champion and certainly one of the fastest drivers of his generation, Kubica's F1 career seemed to be over after a 2011 crash whilst driving in the Rally of Andora. His Skoda Fabia was penetrated by a guardrail in the high speed accident partially severing his right arm.
Up until last year Kubica has been competing in rallying, with the expectation that the limited movement in his repaired arm would prohibit a return to single seater racing.
So this week's test is both interesting and confusing. Interesting because Kubica completed 115 laps of the ret…

F1: Robert Kubica's Williams Test Asks More Questions Than It Answers

Comparing driver's times at a tyre evaluation test like last week's Abu Dhabi event is difficult at the best of times, but when trying to assess the performance of a driver who has been out of the sport for six years, that difficulty level is raised even higher.
On the face of it Robert Kubica's test for Williams was a success. Fastest of the three Williams drivers present the headlines look promising. However, taking into consideration the different tyres used to set those times muddies the water considerably.
Kubica ran a three lap qualifying simulation on the new 'hyper-soft' tyre - which should have given him a two-second advantage. Correcting for tyres it would appear that Kubica was significantly slower than Sergei Sorotkin - who was on the harder 'soft' tyre - and marginally quicker than Lance Stroll, the team's only contracted driver.

Stroll's family fortune currently funds Williams, so there' no chance that he will be anywhere but in a…

Panos Panay's Defence Of Microsoft Surface Hardware Sounds Eerily Familiar

This weekend I went out with my ten year old daughter to select a laptop for her school year beginning in January. The schools requirements are quite specific, requiring a Windows 10 device, with a preference for a touchscreen and a stylus. She chose a Surface Pro, after trying a large number of different options. Having seen the way I use my own Surface Pro - and tried it herself there was only ever going to be two options - and the other was a Surface Laptop.
I tell you this so that you understand I am a buyer of Microsoft's products through choice, not compulsion. I'm on my third Surface device now. 
So when Panos Panay dismissed reports of the death of the Surface hardware line, I was very interested to see exactly how strong these denials were. Especially how they reflect what has gone before. To whit: Windows 10 Mobile.
Panay claimed that Microsoft is in hardware for the long haul. Almost exactly mirroring the words of Terry Myerson, when he claimed Windows Mobile was g…