Things are getting downright ugly. Apple and Google, once the best of friends, seem to have devolved into the bitterest of enemies. The tactics have become dirty. The blows are getting dangerously close to the belt. And I couldn’t be happier.
Unlike real wars, when corporations battle it’s often the common person that prospers. We’re seeing honest-to-goodness tooth-and-nail competition take place, and it’s the consumer and marketers that will come out on top regardless of which behemoth wins the fight.
The blows toward the end of 2009 were focused mostly on mobile. Google Voice was blocked from the App Store, and the FCC started poking into the matter – specifically Apple’s Control of the app economy. In short order, Eric Schmidt resigned from Apple’s board. Then the Motorola Droid came, and the marketing that placed Android’s features directly in competition with Apple’s iPhone OS. Apple then acquired Lala, a streaming music service, near immediately after Google started using the streams in their search results. Following this, Google announced they were moving acquire AdMob (still pending FTC approval), an advertising network that served ads into iPhone apps and a company Apple had been trying to acquire prior to Google outbidding them. In turn, Apple bought up ad network Quattro Wireless. As 2009 came to a close, rumors of both an Apple tablet device and a Google built phone competed for headlines.
Early January, Google announced the Nexus One, a very nice piece of hardware thinner than an iPhone and with an OLED screen. While HTC had manufactured the device, Google was acting as retailer, selling inventory directly to customers and arranging the contracts that would subsidize the device. Unlike Apple though, Google doesn’t have a physical store, and the phone has been dogged with speculation of poor sales. There have also been complaints for the absence of customer service, 3G issues, and a lack of multi-touch.
Quite recently, Apple unveiled their iPad, a device that fell short of the hype and as a result has received both ridicule and criticism (in my humble opinion). Not one to miss an opportunity, today Google launched a one-two sucker punch at their Cupertino cousin, releasing a video and pics of what a Chrome OS tablet might look and feel like. Oh, and they brought multi-touch to the most recent version of Android too.
As the two bitterly fight it out, consumers keep getting better products and more innovative thinking. And with Apple now buying themselves into the advertising game, marketers can expect the same to be true for mobile advertising as well. Things have become personal between these two, and we’re going to end up with some awesome things from each of them because of it.