Google may have killed the Android industry yesterday, introducing “Pixel-first” features and taking on its biggest partner, Samsung, at the high end of the fragmented market.
A useful idiot
Google came across as so confident to be beating Samsung at the high end that it didn’t even mention the dominant Android device maker. Instead it traded barbs at iPhone, immediately positioning itself in direct competition with both Apple and Samsung.
Here are some immediate responses Apple could make:
- Increase iCloud storage allowances
- Or introduce completely free Photos storage online
- Double down on delivering its message about personal privacy and security and point to Google’s track record on the same
- Stress the importance of security in the smart home and how HomeKit improves this.
- Take Which? to task for its spookily timed and flawed report into battery life
- Upgrade the AirPort range of wireless products, adding in new features including support for public/private cloud storage on Time Machine
- Introduce an Apple TV with 4K video support and an iTunes Movies service offering ads-free 4K content.
What would Steve do?
Apple today is very different from the Apple Steve Jobs left behind on this day in 2011. His response to the first HTC Android phone (as opposed to the HTC-manufactured Google Pixel phone) became legendary.
"I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this,” he said.
The threat never really came to anything. A few court cases without a truly satisfactory conclusion and that’s about it – though Apple did win the right to call Samsung “imitator”. Which makes little difference now Google’s jilted its useful South Korean idiot. Samsung, like Apple before it, has served its purpose.
I guess that if he were still here, as we wish he were, after he finished laughing at Samsung’s new predicament, he might sit and think long into the night about smartphones and the future of the industry.
What’s the motive?
He’d sit and think and understand that Google’s move to launch its own hardware reflects its shrinking control of its main business, ads. With the Web diversifying, platforms mutating and a move to non-visual search, Google had get into hardware to keep users hooked on its sites and services. It had no choice but to do so in order to protect its main income: selling ads and selling information about people.
What’s the weakness?
He’d sit and think and look forward to figure out the big chinks in Google’s attempts: imitative design, privacy concerns, lack of experience in manufacturing and hardware distribution, a historical lack of commitment to products, traditionally poor product support. Jobs was a genius and I’m sure he’d identify more. He’d also see the strengths: technological ability, AI and the kind of excellent B/OSS systems server powered services need, and more.
What’s the event?
And then he’d remember that next year is the tenth anniversary of the iPhone. He’d think about what Chief Design Officer, Jony Ive said during the iPhone 7 launch, that the new iPhone is, “The most evolved, most singular, version of the traditional design.”
He’d think about incoming advanced technologies, process and design advancements, component innovation, uniquely controlled processor designs.
He might even write down an idea for the next iPhone keynote, something along the lines of,
“It is 2017. Our competitors have been trying to copy the iPhone for ten years. Ten years later they were beginning to get too close, so today we’d like to redefine the industry once again. Today we’d like to introduce the next great iteration of iPhone design.”
Meanwhile, of course, the iPhone 7 is breaking sales records, and the world is waiting to see how many points the camera in the iPhone 7 Plus scores in the DxO Mark tests that organization will have to run, if it is truly an objective company.
Finally, a warning from IHS analyst, Ian Fogg:
“Android may be dominant now, but it’s not invincible if Google makes the wrong strategic moves and undermines its ecosystem partners.”
Will this be a Pixel too far? I think it might be.
RIP: Steve Jobs, 1955-2011.
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