Thought Process Behind Conference and Feature Development

Google I/O 2014

short writeup/outline to summarize my experience successfully participating at Google I/O 2014 thanks to live streaming and my partner, Mari!

Developers and journalists often go to developer conferences like WWDC and Google I/O and geek out with endless “feature talk” or strategy talk. It can be challenging for foreign companies looking to culturally adapt such knowledge to their specific ways of thinking.

We take an experiential approach by sampling experiences as current and/or potential customers and we evaluate the end desired transformation.

Below we will share and contrast our experience of Apple and Google’s annual developer conference from a “event design” perspective to create additional context before getting into all the “feature talk.” We make an attempt to help you understand how Google positions itself to its developers especially with respect to Apple.

We hope you get a sense of how each company’s philosophy on “experience design” impacts your experience of each conference.

With this understanding, we also hope you can infer how the experiences a company like Google can have on your culture.


Conference Design Approach


  • Top-down approach — keynote led by CEO, 2 hours.
  • Product focused
  • Polished presentation


  • Bottom-up approach — keynote is 3 hrs and the “warm and fuzzy” stuff is towards the end.
  • Feature focused
  • Social causes, making a difference
  • Public experimentation, demos will fail (and audience applauds for trying)
  • Underdog. championing the far future. Singularity.
  • Streamed sessions — remote participation


Looking at the thought process behind feature development at Apple and Google

Apple’s strength is timing (key tenet of marketing). Overall feel Google is playing “catch up” in a lot of areas while being conscious to create subtle market differentiators.

Where they are going neck to neck

  • “Seamless Integration” (across devices) (including car and TV)
  • New release adoption rate (Apple has a statistic on the % of iOS devices on iOS7)
  • Mobile device proximity to your desktop use cases. iOS8 — ability to answer phone calls on desktop. Android — ability for desktop to use camera on mobile device
  • Education. ChromeOS — appealing to K-12 due to ease of maintenance. Apple — “ease of use” sexy

Google catch up

  • The essence of “Material Design” is what Jony Ive introduced to iOS7
  • Gaming (hard to compete with Apple’s leadership in mobile microprocessors)
  • Animation Studio (Steve Jobs did Pixar. Google is taking on Glen)
  • Integrated Ecosystem (this has been the vision of Apple from the beginning: software/hardware/design)

Differentiators in the area of Leadership

  • integrated search — Google will always be Google!
  • contextual computing — Apple cannot compete with the sheer size and depth of a Google user’s profile.
  • open design — Apple’s design practices are secret
  • Large Scale Experimentation — Google X are hefty R&D investments designed to change the world
  • Wearable Computing — Glass, Android Wear released before Apple. Google Fit platform
  • change how we think of entertainment in the home” Android TV — app dev for TV (Apple has not made an announcement for developers to create Apple TV apps) Chromecast Backdrop — advanced use case: interactive picture frame
  • Multi-context device — specifically, separating your personal apps from corporate apps
  • Car Integration — beating Apple to demo what’s possible. formation of Open Automotive Alliance and Android Auto SDK
  • Cloud Documentation — Google Drive. Taking Microsoft out of the picture — edit Microsoft Office documents without conversion
  • Cloud Computation — compete with Amazon?
  • Monetization — teaching developers to be sophisticated marketers by giving them the tool. Direct Carrier Billing
  • App distribution — incremental updates to game logic/rewards without new app update (via Quests)
  • commitment to cloud computing — Program once, release anywhere (centralizing distribution, even to cars). eg. Ease of porting Evernote for Android to Chromebook. adaptability of web applications (Apple doesn’t have a dev kit for web/cloud-based apps)

Where Google isn’t currently competing

  • Apple creates microprocessors — enabler for world-class 3D games/worlds on mobile products { akin to Intel marketing’s approach }
  • Retail — Apple Stores worldwide
  • Security — Apple platform (Mac OS X and iOS) are less prone to malware