Why Google Could Be The Next Apple...
Google: Online / Apple: Offline
Both Apple and Google have put a huge amount of time, money and effort into trying to be the best in their respective markets; Google are now a household name and the definitive search engine for most people, dominating the online market. Apple have spent years shaping their reputation for innovation and design in the personal computing and mobile communications industries, winning over consumers with their hardware, operating systems and standard of product design.
In the past, Google were an online phenemona, but had no standing in the physical world (i.e. no real-world sales product); whereas Apple were all about their Mac computers, not really worrying too much about the online side of their business. That all changed for Apple with the introduction of iTunes, and then the iPhone, which bought us the App Store - suddenly the company were making a fortune through online sales.
Recently, Google and Apple have been getting more and more similar, with the introduction and subsequent popularity of the Android OS only serving to strengthen the comparison between the two digital giants. Both companies have become extremely good at providing both end consumers and business enterprise customers with exactly what they need; and it's Google who are now leading the march. Let's have a look at the main elements that suggest Google is becoming the next Apple.
The Growing Similarities..
The physical consumer market: Google is finally branching out into the consumer market with Android, and it's showing consumers it can do an extremely good job. Google are clearly not content to be the biggest company online and are now stepping out into the real world. Admittedly it's utilising the touch screen technology that Apple has made so popular in the mainstream consumer market, but it's working. Android phones are now starting to sell a huge amount (technically more than iPhones, although it's tough to judge exactly as there are several different handsets available running the Android OS) and Google are slowly building a reputation as the company that gives the consumer what he/she is looking for, which is exactly how Apple have been seen in recent years.
The fanbase: One thing that always stands out to me about Apple is the loyalty and dedication of people to the Apple brand; they're fans of the company in the true sense of the word. Apple fans constantly buy new Apple products and will defend the company vigourously against Microsoft and other such competitors. No other company has been able to match this kind of fanatasism from core consumers and it's part of what makes Apple so successful. Slowly but surely however, Google are starting to get this kind of loyalty too; Google has the monopoly on search in the UK and online consumers tend to recognise this (in colloquial terms people Google something instead of searching it), but that loyalty is beginning to creep into the subconscious of physical product consumers; as the Android and its related web services begin to grow, so does the fanbase. Don't be surprised to see Android logo stickers utilised in the same way as Apple logo stickers in the next year or so (if it hasn't happened already).
Innovation: Apple has always been renowned as one of the most innovative companies in existence, always happy going in their one direction while everybody else is going in another. While Microsoft, Yahoo, etc. were concerned with offering the same products and services they always have (content to just update existing web services and physical products), Apple were developing the iPod, then the iPhone, and now the iPad. Apple have always been a market leader when it comes to innovation and it's this level of innovation that has led to Apple being trusted and respected so highly within the industry. This is what Google is trying to imitate and their approach has seen a distinct shift from simply updating their online services to moving fully into external market areas.
Mentality: Google seems to have shifted its mentality in the last 12 months; they're confident, outspoken and possess a genuine belief in their company and their products. This approach has been utilised by Apple for years and has played a major part in the public perception of the company. Google have even gone head-to-head with Apple on a couple of debates and don't seem at all scared to make their opinions and beliefs public.
Google is also starting to now put an emphasis on their public consumers, attempting to improve their products to achieve the highest level of usefulness and relevance for their target audience. Appealing to customers like this is something that Apple have always been extremely good at, and as the Android OS grows and improves, it's clear that it's another element Google are attempting to emulate.
The other important change to Google's approach is the constant desire to improve, to be better. This mentality has been a huge part of Apple's corporate and public growth and you can see this outlook being employed in Google's improvement of Android. Google want to be the market leader in any area they choose to work in and seem insistent on delivering the optimum performance for their consumers.
Attitude: Apple have always been extremely secretive with their new products; you find out very little about the design or features of their next product until it's already been produced and in the finished version. Google have always had the opposite approach, they would set up their ideas online as a beta version and just see what people thought of it, how they could improve it. In some way this was a good approach and has helped Google develop their market leading services, but it doesn't give you the same impact as an Apple product release. More recently however Google have begun to emulate the secretive approach employed so successfully by Apple; Google Buzz is an excellent example of this, with even some Google employees reportedly being unaware of the new service before its launch.
So there we go, that's why i think Google are becoming the new Apple. I guess in the next year or two we'll find out, as both companies continue to release both digital and physical consumer products and I look forward to seeing them in direct competition.