Google went after Apple in a big way at Google I/O last week and I've been seeing a lot comments suggesting that Google has now surpassed Apple technologically. First of all, I don't think you can dismiss Apple's market power that easily. Secondly, Google made some announcements, which doesn't equal products yet. Finally, Google provides tools for others to make things. Apple actually makes products (and people really want them). It's a big difference.
Do You Really Want to Piss Off Steve Jobs?
I sometimes wonder what Eric Schmidt is thinking. He has a good thing going there at Google, an ad selling machine combined with a powerful search algorithm and some very nice tools. The whole system, whether Android, Google Docs or the myriad of other tools has one mission: to drive traffic to Google properties where it can sell more ads.
But apparently billions and billions of dollars in ad sales is not enough for Schmidt and his cohorts. They also seem to want to emasculate Steve Jobs while they're at it, a move I don't think is terribly smart. By going after Apple, which really doesn't compete with Google ( iAds not withstanding ), they are making what is in my view a huge tactical error. Steve Jobs is not a guy you want as your enemy as others like Microsoft have learned the hard way. Going after Apple in this fashion makes little sense to me and does nothing to enhance the core ad selling mission.
Apple's Big Advantage
Google is open and Apple is not, so the argument is that naturally Google should win. On the face of it, it's hard to argue with this logic, but it leaves one key element from the equation, and that's the beauty and elegance of Apple products. Many people think Apple consumers buy blindly, but for me at least, it's just the opposite. I buy Apple products because I've found they work well and they have great support.
If you look at it from a pure feature/function standpoint, Apple is expensive and proprietary, and it seems almost a silly choice, but Apple gives you something for your money that competitors in my experience have never approached. It's what makes people line up for days to be the first to get them. Only Apple arouses actual passion in its customers. People don't go ga-ga for Microsoft or Google. They get downright excited about Apple and that's a huge difference.
Which Brings us to WWDC
Two weeks from today, Steve Jobs gets his turn at center stage at the World Wide Developer's Conference , a platform he has used in the past to launch the iPhone, OSX and the Mac Book Pro. This year he'll have his usual bevy of big announcements , no doubt, but he'll have a chance to answer his critics. It's hard to know how he'll approach it, whether he'll let the products speak for themselves or also use it as an opportunity to publicly humiliate Google and Adobe for their transgressions at I/O.
Whatever happens, Jobs will continue to have the upper hand so long as he makes products people want, and whether it's the iPhone, the iPad, iPod or the Mac Book line; people just lust for Apple products in a way that no other manufacturer seems to approach. So long as he continues to inspire that kind of market reaction, nobody can touch him, least of all Google.
Photo by laihiu on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.