<< Peter, I’m struggling to understand what Google, FB and Amazon are “ahead of” >>
Google is skating to SOME places where the puck will be in a way that Apple is not. (Though, since Apple is so secretive, it’s never clear if they are ignoring an area, or just haven’t yet announced their massive investment in that area…)
A few examples I’d highlight:
- Google remains ahead in mapping. Ignore the stupid jokes about this and concentrate on reality. Google is much better at map SEARCH (probably because their search is backed up by all that web data). And Google is generally first in useful new ways to augment search (for example caching maps offline for when you travel to somewhere with no network access — either wilderness or a foreign country).
- Google appreciates (in a way that Apple doesn’t seem to) that people travel, and that the cell-phone story when traveling remains, in 2017, an utter misery. Thus Google is trying to at least improve the situation slightly with Project Fi. Meanwhile Apple is so unaware of this concept known as traveling that each of its products (iPhone, iPad, aWatch) exhibits different but real bugs when transferred across time zones — even today in 2017!
- Google Translate is hardly perfect but it works, and more to the point, it’s set up in a way that reflects how people would want to use such a product in real life. It can handle language on signs and writing(point your camera at Chinese and it will translate it); it operates off-line (because travel and no foreign SIM — my point above); and it’s somewhat set up for dialogs. MS, likewise, is trying to solve a real problem with its real-time spoken language translation.
Meanwhile Apple’s “Hey Siri, How do I say where’s the bathroom in Chinese?” is a gimmick that has clearly never been tested against the actual needs of a traveler. (Apart from the need for a network connection…, what do you do when the respondent starts replying to you in Chinese?)