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The asymmetric competition between Google and Apple app stores

In the latest version of Android, Google shifted from bitmaps to vector rendering for maps.  The shift is probably more a function of available processing power on the device than a strategic shift to position value on the device rather than in the cloud. Vector maps, which are much more efficient in terms of bandwidth and local storage, have been the choice for in-car navigators but Google has always been using bitmap tiles which are fetched from a server and delivered only if the device is using a data connection. The downside for vectors is that they require a bit more local processing power.

I doubt that Google’s move to vectors is part of a shift to more app-centered/edge-of-network strategy.

How is this relevant?

Google has been riding a wave of re-centralization of value toward the center of the network as broadband made the cloud feasible. Keep in mind that Microsoft rode a wave of de-centralization as value moved to the PC and away from the mainframe. As intelligence was pushed to the edge, Microsoft accrued value from enabling the edge as a locus of productivity. This is no small thing.

Then came apps.

Android vs. Google Part III

Revised language for section 3.3.9 of Apple’s developer agreement, concerning the use of data collection:

The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent

via Apple Makes Good on Steve Jobs’s Promise, Invites Other Advertisers. But What About Google’s AdMob? | Peter Kafka | MediaMemo | AllThingsD.

Apple is stating that user data must be handled by organizations that are strictly independent.  If the ad service provider is part of an organization that either competes with Apple’s devices or platform, it’s not independent.

AdMob would have been allowed to operate unhindered on iOS but AdMob as part of Google is not.

Conversely, if Google were to abandon Android, the path to riches would be open again.  As shown several times already, by pursuing a mobile device platform Google strategically abandoned some significant revenue opportunities in exchange for some extraordinarily high costs.

Readers of this blog should not be surprised.

Can Google buy consumer competitiveness? Can Apple be an ad giant?

Daniel Eran Dilger in fine form after Apple became the world’s largest technology company by market capitalization.

These days, Apple’s primary competitors have all fallen down on their knees while clutching their gutted bellies…

Who is left? Google, the paid search giant that backers hope will beat Apple in hardware and software platforms… despite Google being neither a hardware vendor (nor marketer nor retailer nor support provider) nor having any real experience in managing a software platform for consumers. Fans of Google suggest that the company will take on Apple by acquiring a competing version of everything Apple has built over the last decade: iTunes, a mobile platform, hardware expertise, user interface design savvy, development tools, and a user base.

The problem is, they don’t also foresee that Apple could compete against Google in its own home territory of ads.

via How Apple could slay Google at WWDC 2010 — RoughlyDrafted Magazine.

The key assumption in the “Google can buy anything Apple already has” is that of the three things that make up a company (resources, processes and priorities) the only thing cash can buy is resources, and, in the tech world, even those are fragile things with legs that can walk out the front door.

If Apple did not exist, Google would need to invent it

Google’s innovation pipeline:

  • new mobile OS
  • updated mobile browser
  • rich mobile ads
  • Google TV

It used to be that Microsoft’s agenda was written in Cupertino, now they are no longer the only ones in line at the copy machine.

Google gives up on Nexus One online store

Google gives up on Nexus One online store, moves to retail | Electronista.

So much for Google the Shopkeeper.

UPDATE:  This also puts the idea of Android generating any revenue for Google at a logical dead end.  As it stands tactically and strategically, Android is a financial black hole in perpetuity.

Android remains, in my opinion, Google’s biggest failure.

New in iPhone OS 4: No more Google promotion

“Google” has been replaced next to the keyboard’s space bar with the word “Search.” Ouch.

via New in iPhone OS 4: The Full App-by-App Breakdown | iLounge Article.

Apple: When Will They Build Their Own Mobile Search Engine?

Apple: When Will They Build Their Own Mobile Search Engine? – Tech Trader Daily – Barrons.com.

The opportunity here is not to do web search better than Google, but to find a way to index the information that lives on the iPhone ecosystem.  With potential for millions of apps and hundreds of millions of iPhones generating usage patterns a separate mountain of information is emerging independent of the current cloud.  The mobile cloud has different hooks and different relevance measures.

Mobile search will be as much about new algorithms as about getting a new way to spider the data.

It seems Apple is better positioned to leverage this emerging space than Google.

Why Google is headed for trouble

Never mind the gossip and tales of intrigue. Ignore the stories of betrayal and affairs. Forget the animosity and ego tripping.

No, the real reason you should be nervous if you are betting on Google long term is that Schmidt gave his first iPhone away.

By August of 2007 it’s reported that “Schmidt had long ago given up on the Apple handset because he couldn’t stand the on-screen keyboard. His wife had tested a prototype, but didn’t care to keep it. Schmidt, we’re told, ended up giving his iPhone to [his mistress] as a gift”

Here is a guy who has in his hands one of the first iPhones and he treats it with contempt.

He did not get it.

Nor, it seems, does he get the iPad.

Google does not understand where computing is going.

I don’t mean this in a small way. I mean this in a big way.


Why HTC (Part II)

Starting in January, Apple launched a series of C-Level discussions with tier-1 handset makers to underscore its growing displeasure at seeing its iPhone-related IP infringed. The lawsuit filed against HTC thus appears to be Apple’s way of putting a public, lawyered-up exclamation point on a series of blunt conversations that have been occurring behind closed doors.

link: Apple talks tough to handset makers – Apple 2.0 – Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Top-tier handset makers continued to avoid implementing multi-touch, but Apple could safely assume that they were hanging back to gauge Apple’s response to Motorola and HTC. If there wasn’t one, the OEMs would likely read the silence as a green light, especially after Google also moved to enable multi-touch on its Nexus One phone.

Even before the lawsuit, handset makers were having second thoughts about Google, which with the Nexus One had become a direct competitor. Now their faith in Android as the easiest and cheapest way to counter the iPhone has been shaken, says Reiner.

Seems pretty close to what I wrote here:

Why HTC?

Therefore it’s entirely likely that HTC was singled out to disrupt the business logic of modular mobile software. HTC is the pioneer and the hub as the largest licensee for both WinMo/WinP and Android and the inspiration for hundreds of OEM/ODMs to make modular products.

… Other vendors looking at this licensing model might think harder about participating, and that may be the whole point.

Why HTC?

In the suit against HTC, Apple’s listed infringing phones include HD2, Touch Pro2, Tilt2, Imagio, Pure and Touch Diamond. These all run Windows Mobile and not Android. HTC shipped 80% of the Windows Mobile units in the field, a far larger volume than Android so it stands to reason that the law suit is as much targeting Windows Mobile as Android.

In 2006 Microsoft announced that their partners/OEMs/Operators will get indemnification on IP suits regarding their OS. It’s not a sure thing that Apple’s patents cover any part of the Windows Mobile stack–vs. whatever parts HTC layered on top. However, there is a high probability that Microsoft will join Google in HTC’s defense.

I should also point out that the media’s emphasis on Google as the exclusive target of the suit is sensationalistic. Focusing on Google possibly misses a hidden agenda.

Namely that Apple is attacking the hub of the modular approach to mobile computing while largely leaving the integrated vendors like Palm and RIM alone (the dispute with Nokia is over license terms for GSM patents and not yet about UI patents).

Therefore it’s entirely likely that HTC was singled out to disrupt the business logic of modular mobile software. HTC is the pioneer and the hub as the largest licensee for both WinMo/WinP and Android and the inspiration for hundreds of OEM/ODMs to make modular products.

HTC’s defense will be complicated and difficult due to these dependencies. Legal risk weighs heavily on large corporations, especially when the payoff is marginal at best. Other vendors looking at this licensing model might think harder about participating, and that may be the whole point.