The difference between Apple and Google

The discussion, or rather, should I say a very heated debate, on which mobile OS is superior has been going on for years. And this post, is definitely, not going to bring about a logical conclusion to it. Contrarily, it’s just going to fuel the raging fire.

iOS or Android, we’ve all heard phrases like, “open”, “refined”, “polished”, or “flexibility” to characterize the lot. Both are true in most of the cases, BUT, what we have a problem in realizing is WHY that is so. There is a very definite reason to why Google can afford disseminating “less polished” services and products and why Apple has to take time to “nail it”. The reason? Business models.

While most of us think that Google and Apple are analogous, the truth is, (cheesily) they’re quite different, specifically, when you look at how each one of them generates revenue. For Apple, it adds up to hardware sales. If Apple sells more iDevices and Mac, they mint money. Make a product, sell for profit. Simple.

Google, however, is an advertising company. The bulk of their revenue comes from advertisement sales. The greater the amount of ads that they sell, the more their profits pile up. This difference, strikingly, affects how products and services are shipped. Let me explain.

Let us inspect the iOS ecosystem. The choicest words to describe it is either “closed” or “curated”. It’s pretty accurate, if you ask me. Take a cursory glance at iMessage, Apple’s pretty well executed messaging alternative. Ever seen it on Android? Why not? The answer is hardware sales. By making iMessage and other services exclusive to the Apple ecosystem, it encourages people to buy iDevices. Had most of my family and friends started using iMessage, I’d be more inclined to buy an Apple device. Proprietary offerings like iMessage promote hardware sales. Same applies to other services from Apple like, FaceTime, Find Your iPhone, Airplay, and more.

Now, Google. For this giant, it mostly doesn’t matter if they were to sell less Nexus devices. Their goal is two fold. Ad sales and the implied user information. And to realize these goals, they have to create services for the Apple ecosystem. In fact, I’d go as far as to argue that Apple users hold far more value and importance to them than Android users. Why? Because studies reveal that the usage patterns indicate that iOS users spend more time on their phone, and browse the internet more. Brilliant news, for Google. And this is precisely why Google services like Google Maps, GMail, Google Drive, Chrome, the most recent and a pretty awesome offering — PhotoSphere, and, numerous others are on iOS, and none of the Apple ones are on Android. Also, I feel most of these Google services look gorgeous and function far better than on their home OS, Android. Example: Gmail on Android vs. Gmail on iOS.

But, this is not quite the important part. Since Apple is primarily, a hardware company, banking on hardware sales, it is much more crucial that their products are exceptional from the very beginning. If Apple were to devise a half baked iDevice, it would have a perilous effect. Google does not give a flying duck about hardware sales. At least, not as much as Apple does. If Google were to build a lack luster Nexus device (like the most recent one :P) and it fails, it doesn’t damage them nearly as much.

Have a look at this video (please do watch this, it’s a brilliant video), that Apple showcased at WWDC last year, to get my point and their approach at building products. “Design takes focus and time”. These are unconditionally true for a company like Apple, that has almost a 0 margin error when shipping a product. They have constructed themselves to be the company that ships, literally, stellar, mind boggling, and adorable hardware year after year.

I don’t mean that Google isn’t making good hardware. What I mean, is that, Google has its priorities elsewhere. Since advertisements result in a colossal mass of their profits, they can afford experiments and let them fail, with close to 0 consequences. If stupid problems like this one were to figure into the iPad, all hell would break loose. Imagine the furore.

So, next time, when you purchase either an Apple device or an Android device, think about why certain decisions were made. It’s not because one is lethargic and the other is ingenious. It’s mostly because they have different business models and as a result expect completely different outcomes.

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