Are Google Too Much Like Apple?

Are you Team Android or Team Apple? Well, the side whose colours you nail to the mast are usually picked solely on user preference, company offerings, and not least, first impressions.

Goople Anyone?

After what seems like an eternity (but in reality is only 2.5 years since Android came onto the scene) the regular battles between the two Smartphone heavyweights seems to be providing no clear winner. Apple’s hardware shows no sign of slowing down with over 16 million iPhone devices shipped in the last quarter of 2010, along with over 7 million iPads and over 19 million iPods in the same time frame (link). Android, whilst not being a player in the device market, has seen it’s market share of Android OS sky rocket to 33% at the end of 2010, dwarfing Apple’s iOS which stands at 16%. Couple this with the fact that over 33 million Android OS devices were shipped in the fourth quarter of 2010 and Android’s reach seems competitive (link).

So the question has to be asked, what are the differences between the two smartphone giants. With increasing scrutiny over privacy and the ever expanding cloud based services Google have and continue to introduce, are people starting to look at Google with Apple-tinted glasses?

Apple have iTunes, Google have released Google Music (beta). Apple have AppleTV and have movies available from their iTunes store, whilst Google combat this with the ability to rent movies from their Android Marketplace, both starting at relatively small amounts of cash. Both companies have a huge development community churning out gems like Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja, Evernote and Yammer. The comparisons can continue to be made.

Obviously some of these services are geographically specific (currently) but I for one, as a long term Android user am starting to see a trend which isn’t too dissimilar to Apple in it’s approach. Another huge plus for Google is that it was considered at one point (and potentially still is by some/many) the “people’s choice” in the war against the “monopolistic Apple and Steve Jobs”. This allowed them to achieve very usage of their products and allow marketing of their new products to an ever increasing membership. Well, those who once quoted such rhetoric might do well to consider the changes, subtle though they may be, in approach, by Google.

Case in point, the Nexus One device. The flagship Android device only two years ago, has since been surpassed by other “Nexus” branded products, the latest of which currently available being the Samsung Nexus S. These ‘experience’ devices were said to be on the cutting edge and would receive updates from Google in order to keep the “vanilla” flavour of the OS as it develops. It seems however the speed of such updates has declined and with Google announcing the move towards a unified operating system for their next release, Ice Cream Sandwich, the parallel to Apple seems almost complete.

As Thomas Watson, former IBM President, once said, “To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart”. I wonder whether this continues to be the mindset of Google going forward.