Is Google in a better position than Apple for the mobile market?

12Jul10

This is a great article from the Business Insider comparing Apple v. Microsoft in the 80’s OS war to Apple v. Google in the mobile war:

http://www.businessinsider.com/this-chart-should-scare-the-bejesus-out-of-apple-2010-7

A few important distinctions in this comparison which I think strengthen the article’s point:

  • Microsoft sold their OS to computer-makers, but had to compete with other software companies with similar business models.  Google, because of its advertising model, is able to give their mobile platform away.  None of the other mobile software companies have this advantage.
  • Related to above, because Google is not in the device business, they will build their platform for any device that has access to the Internet – PCs, cars, TV, etc.  As more people use and develop the OS across platforms, it could be become the de-facto standard.  This quote from Andy Rubin, the founder of Android and VP of Mobile Platforms at Google:

    We’re at about 4 billion cell phones. About 1.4 billion Internet connected PCs — that includes desktop and laptops and everything else. Like 1.2 billion automobiles. Some 800 million TVs.  And it’s like, “OK, let’s target the top four.” Let’s do everything we can to get the big ones. Remember, our business is volume, because it’s an advertising business and we want to delight a lot of people. And how do you delight a lot of people? You get in the products that they use every day.

    Source: http://techcrunch.com/2010/06/01/android-chief-andy-rubin-updates-will-eventually-come-once-a-year/

    • Unlike Microsoft, Google has a strong history in developing stable, secure and usable software.
    • In the 80s and 90s, software was loaded onto hardware and only updated via disk.  Mobile operating systems can be updated via the Internet.  The result is that software can evolve exponentially faster.  Both Apple and Google seem to be settling into annual updates to their software development kits.  However, because Android serves multiple device companies, there is an incentive to release new phone options faster.  If Google can develop a faster process for evolving and distributing their OS, it could be a competitive advantage.
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