On The Future of Apple and Google

Posted on: September 28, 2014
Posted in Mobile, Social

When Tim Cook was interviewed by Charlie Rose after Apple’s mega launch event a few weeks ago, he scoffed at any mention of competitors, highlighting only Google as Apple’s arch-rival.

Apple and Google are entrenched in a modern version of the PC war, and are the only two players with relevancy at the operating system level. Here are some thoughts on why this is important and what’s next as we enter the golden years for mobile and approach the early beginnings of the post-mobile era:

  1. Android is now the operating system of the world. It dominates any non-Apple, non-PC application. We still think of Android as a smartphone OS. But almost everything truly smart will run Android – new TVs, IoT devices, your home appliances etc. Android is just a fork of Linux, a runtime, controlled by Google. But the kernel is sort of unimportant. It’s what Google puts on top, all the software that uses Java and native APIs which make Android now more extensible than Linux for connected devices. Why build your own embedded Linux services and APIs when you can tie into Google services?
  2. However despite Android taking less than a decade to become the most dominant operating system of all time, iOS continues to distance itself from Android at the high end. Part of this is the iOS-first paradigm that app developers work under. E.g. in leading edge app categories such as on-demand services, all of these are iOS-only out of the gate, and with iPhones now increasing share vs Android in the US, Apple’s lead is actually widening. Remember two years ago when people said Android would crush iOS (the PC vs Mac fallacy) and that profits, apps, developer / ad revenue and consumer mindshare would all go to Android? They were wrong.
  3. If it’s not obvious now, mobile platforms evolved totally differently than PCs. There are important structural reasons for this—mobile benefited from competition at both the OS and hardware / chip layer, whereas in PCs these layers were both monopolies and innovation effectively stopped for 10-15 years. However, there are lessons to be learned from Mac vs PC in terms of how a developer ecosystem emerges: a platform only grows when developers sell software and make money. This is how the term ‘killer app’ was coined. Without ecosystem players making money, platforms stop evolving rapidly and atrophy. The problem with Android isn’t market share. It’s lack of the best apps, less usage in emerging categories, less killer use-cases and in turn… a reduced ability for developers to make money. Android first is still a myth. Despite it dominating in share worldwide.
  4. Payments have arrived on mobile. Commerce is now as easy as a thumb print. Downloading apps and paying is practically as easy as loading web pages. It’s all secure and just works. Apple Pay is 3 years ahead of Google in almost every regard. And since a lot of these killer use-cases anchor off commerce, Google will scramble to accelerate efforts in payments. But it’s going to be difficult to do so organically. Google Checkout and Google Wallet both failed.  I expect Google to acquire Square to catch up around payment IP and merchant access, and to attempt to acquire Stripe1. There are a lot of pieces to this puzzle and without tight control of the handset’s payment IP, Android will remain way behind iOS on user experience in mobile commerce. iOS could even use its tight integration to get ahead in an area where Google is thought to dominate: mobile web. Can you imagine if Safari used Apple Pay, and mobile websites could accept payments with a thumb print?
  5. Services like payments both quantify Apple’s user experience lead and help qualitatively diagnose the effects of Android fragmentation. E.g. NFC and technologies like this will never have uniform rollout or consistent messaging or user experiences in Android, even if NFC catches on at the POS due to Apple Pay.  Why? Android now lags an amount equal to its weakest link. The entire platform  is not necessarily years behind iOS, but elements of it are—and that means its aggregate user experience is. Though Google is ahead in services, these weak links hold Android back. Apple devices are now optimized at the hardware level to degrees we have never seen before. The iPhone 6 has two NFC chips and two chips responsible for gyroscopic movement  and device acceleration. Apple is simply years ahead when it comes to system integration.2
  6. New frameworks for devices to interact with the physical world have arrived and will further Apple’s lead. These are important to the growth of the platforms. These include BLE, iBeacon, NFC and other areas adjacent to discovery and the purchase funnel. These short range technologies (when made developer-friendly through APIs) allow phones to connect with the nearby world (the ‘edge’ or last 50 feet), much like GPS allowed phones to connect with the outdoor sky 10 years ago. This short range RF stack is maturing rapidly, but it’s still a little bit like GPS was 5-10 years ago. Back then the apps sucked—remember the first Garmin device you had to plug in to your cigarette lighter, which had no real apps or expansion capability? Or the first time you used maps on a Nokia series 40 phone? The applications were bad, the devices sucked, and the developer tools were non-existent. Now every single app you download uses location and you can get a car delivered to your house in 5 minutes, all enabled by GPS.
  7. Tying these types of complex APIs / services together requires lots of power, which is precisely why high end smartphones are really defined by their ‘performance per watt’ of power consumption. This is a ratio that Apple dominates3.  But the Watch is where Apple’s chips / hardware / OS vertical integration will really shine. That’s because with wearables, there is a sort of third axis beyond performance and power: volume. The Moto 360 is double the volume of the small Apple Watch, an unpleasant difference and one that almost no one will stand for at a given price tier when holding the two devices. If wearables follow fashion, you could make a case for Apple owning this category. It won’t be possible to own it like the iPod, because watches require ecosystem complements (Apple Watch requires an iPhone, Android wear requires an Android phone), but It’s now very apparent: Apple has a drastic advantage with wearables because it owns not only the OS, but also the semiconductor stack, the branding, the industrial design, the stores, and more of the direct distribution—wearables aren’t subsidized by carriers. So in a world of attaching computers to your body, the better metric is performance per watt per volume (or size). If it’s 50-100% more svelte, 50% faster, much more tightly integrated, all the popular apps arrive first, payments work easily and it talks to iBeacons around you, then Apple could dominate the mid and high end of this category4.
  8. Who knows what form wearables will take in 5 years. But it’s clear the mobile era is now spawning new platforms, which deeply impact how Google and Apple are evolving. The Apple Watch is a fine tuned system, deeply tied to everything else Apple, accelerated by innovation straight from embedded mobile IP. And just like the iPhone, Apple profits when you buy it. Meanwhile, When you use Google powered devices, Google parses through troves of data about you and ultimately profits off usage. Google is ambitious to a level we have never seen, building drones, cars and robots, all of which will be controlled through permutations of Android. And this ‘platformification’ of mobile operating systems and frameworks is about to accelerate by what’s known as ‘system wide network effects’.
  9. System wide network effects are network effects that take hold when adjacent parts of an overall system are built out — e.g. smartphones, wearables, sensor networks etc.  Each one of these categories makes the other much more valuable once it’s built out. These network effects effectively unlock compounded value from the previous layers. People expect value from new categories like wearables and sensor networks overnight. But the reality is that the pieces need to work harmoniously, tied together by software. And only after the infrastructure is in place can developers go and create cool new things. Wearables and sensors and connected devices are interesting – but much more so when tied together with killer apps. And platform history tells us that only after infrastructure is laid do developers write software. This was even true for the internet back in the 90’s. It wasn’t until the web browser and email and other killer apps came along that you really understood the value of the internet, even though it had connected people years earlier.
  10. These system wide network effects in mobile, together with new classes of connected devices, are helping close the divide between the digital world and the physical world. It will continue to fall away gradually as we mature technologically. In 5 years, it’s likely that the notion of an app won’t exist like it does today. Everything around you will feel like an app, whether run on stationary screens like VR, your wearable, or on objects that navigate around you with smart software, like cars, robots and drones.

It’s provocative to think about where Apple and Google each go next. In mobile there’s a term called ‘permissionless innovation’, the basic  premise of which is you don’t need anyone else’s permission to innovate. The beauty of the modern mobile era is that it isn’t held back by anti-innovators like the carriers or monopolists like Microsoft and Intel who gated the pace of innovation in previous platform eras. The mobile stack has decoupled these previous incumbents from control.

Today, Google is snapping up robotics companies and investing in autonomous vehicles, all of which will run futuristic versions of its operating systems and have the promise to measurably improve the way humans live. And Apple is still showing us that it’s the best company in the world at melding software and hardware to produce impossibly beautiful consumer products.

All of this innovation is underpinned by software, software that is figuratively eating the world. But to me the most exciting thing in tech today is not whether we’ll all be wearing smart watches a year from now. It’s that innovation will continue accelerating through the golden era of mobile and well beyond, to what none of us can quite see next.


  1. For various reasons Stripe will not likely sell to Google 

  2. Apple added these extra chips to make prediction of movement more accurate, better control how the antenna propagates etc. Putting two chips in each subsystem is only necessary in so far as you want the user experience to be closer to perfect. 

  3. The iPhone 5s is still ahead of every other phone in the world performance-wise after over 1 year in market – unbelievable 

  4. Not to mention the Watch has an entire computer-on-a-chip, the S1, that some are speculating will be upgradeable, which could increase lock-in 

  • dprol

    Good reflexion. The key of this content is mobile platforms evolved totally differently than PCs so the study of the market is completely separated from each other

  • http://www.aaronklein.com/ Aaron Klein

    Curious as to your reasons why Stripe won’t sell to Google. (I kinda hope you’re right.)

  • stefnagel

    Ford turned workers into users.
    Google turned users into workers.

  • https://www.youtube.com/user/fatriff Fatriff

    The reason Android is able to run on the 1000s of different devices it does is because of the Linux kernel.. Yet you say “the kernel is sort of unimportant”….

    Erm….

    Without it, Android is dead and would never have taken off.

    • obarthelemy

      Android is mostly the JVM+libs (Dalvik or ART), it could run on top of pretty much any OS, such as RIM running it on top a BB10/QNX…

      • https://www.youtube.com/user/fatriff Fatriff

        Yes but then it would be limited to RIMs hardware which is why Linux has such a monster sized advantage.

        • http://spinynorman.tumblr.com Spiny Norman

          d00de, if you are going to do the Linux partisan thing, you need to insist on it being called GNU/Linux. That way people will know you are a serious zealot wackaloon g00b rather than a sad poser g00b.

        • Prof. Peabody

          Everything you say is made moot, by the fact that you have such a childish, boorish icon. I’m with Spiny Norman. You are coming across like a sad little kid here.

          If Linux is so great and the kernel has magical powers, why did it never take off as a desktop product? Because people don’t “choose” Linux if they are given the option, that’s why.

          The whole point of Android is that it’s Linux and Java masquerading as something new. The people that buy it, are buying “Android” not Linux.

    • robmoir

      Yes, the kernel is obviously important from a technical perspective. Well done, have a cookie, and all that.

      How many non-techie people are basing their purchases on whether or not a device is running the Linux Kernel though? Given that there are plenty of such people out there that don’t even really appreciate the differences between Windows RT, iOS and Android, let alone their internals, I’m going to go ahead and say that “the kernel is sort of unimportant” is a perfectly reasonable viewpoint.

      • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

        Always the thing to bring up that tech enthusiasts, who do imagine that mass society takes to smartphones because of a Linux kernel. When they figure out what they can do when they see it, that becomes very popular. Google seems to throw out engineer ideas continuously, expecting its payment systems would catch on if they were first. First, the thumbprint technology is now in the category of “reliable and private and easy.” THEY’RE CHANGING OVER BEFORE 2015. THEY ARE CHANGING ANYWAY. So now, Apple’s made deals with 86% of the market. By the end of next year, you’ll have stores realizing they have got to buy the new machines now, and they’d better work with the Apple stuff. Tap to pay. Accept charges with your thumb. Done. More secure than the chain stores. Lots more. They aren’t the first out with anything. They’re good at getting things to where people will use them.

    • godofbiscuits

      The kernel is unimportant. It could have been another kernel. No one out there cares about the kernel. *IF* the architected android frameworks and the JVM correctly, even THOSE shouldn’t care about the kernel.

  • stefnagel

    If we cannot see what’s next, perhaps it because sound, not light, will fuel the next stage of mobile innovation.

  • Jim Hunter

    Interesting take. The S1 is a tremendous advantage for Apple. In fact I think Apple has effectively just cut the ribbon on the next evolutionary stage of compute…truly personal computing. I would also include the Systematic Network Effect of Big Commerce innovators like Amazon -and Alibaba. They will continue to work to remove friction between consumers and product acquisition.

  • http://www.cameronwall.com.au/ Cameron Wall

    It’s important to note that both platforms (iOS & Android) have the “80/20 rule”, albeit in reverse. Android may have the lion’s share of market share however iOS have the lion’s share of usage. 80% of site visits, App usage etc. comes from iOS with only 20 something marketshare (at least here in Australia).

    When people come of 24 month phone plans or decide to purchase a SmartPhone, they are overwhelmed by an assortment of Droid devices all with attractive entry points. And then there is the iPhone, everyone has heard of but the “average” user is open. A new Android owner in many cases struggle setup email, and install and use apps in the first month or two.

    • JJose

      “A new Android owner in many cases struggle setup email, and install and use apps in the first month or two”

      Myth

  • Will

    I’m sorry but this article is a joke. Incredibly biased and full of hypocrisy.

    Apple Watch a fashion statement? Have you noticed how it looks like the Gear Watch?! It’s ugly.
    iBeacons is a joke, completely useless, still waiting to see what it’s good for.
    Apply Pay is based on a password you can’t ever change for the rest of your life, yet you consider it so very secure…
    Microsoft was a bad monopoly but Apple controlling everything is called tight integration? Good to know.

    Not impressed

  • Francesco Carollo

    The answer to this “Why build your own embedded Linux services and APIs when you can tie into Google services?” is that Google is a proprietary platform unlike Linux. And it is already powerful in terms of accurate information and data in its possess.

  • EOrr

    Question, the Web saved Apple from irrelevance by making the dominant form of delivery of content platform agnostic. Mobile unbundled web apps and made platform vital again to give a superior experience.

    Will apps become more platform agnostic in the future as deep linking and internet access proliferate? What will an app be like in 5 years is a complete unknown.

    Apple sucks at cloud and is culturally unfit to exceed in anything but personal computers of whatever size.

    Google is interested in mobile as far as it is an open end point for the cloud. Voice recognition and interaction is far superior in Android for similar reasons. If user experience can ever get close to apple by leveraging the cloud then and only then will Apple be in trouble. Will advancement and integration for Apple products always exceed the ability of google to offer services or will the computing power and data analysis the cloud enables ever surpass the ability to do stuff on a phone or watch to the point where there is the gap becomes irrelevant or reversed?

    If you have seen the movie Her then that I think is a future that should worry Apple as there is no place in that world for any personal computer one carries around.

    Privacy and security is where Apple can most differentiate but it is an open question that most people will ever care enough to make it a dominant feature over general experience.

    Over the next 5 to 10 years nobody will be able to compete with Apple I am sure, but in 20 years google may have the edge overall. Google has the ability to make Apple irrelevant someday, Apple has no inclination or ability to make Google irrelevant. Googles biggest threat is actually a services focused Microsoft who has shown a propensity to throw gobs of cash into the black hole of Bing.

    • StevenDrost

      There are many points in your post, but I would take issue with the cloud comment. Apple is one of the most successful cloud companies. Follow my logic here for a minute. Itunes and the App store are both amazingly successful cloud services with the revenue numbers to prove it. They sell much more content in more markets to more users than Google or Amazon.
      Don’t get me wrong, they don’t walk on water and many of their services have not been very good. But in many instances, they were the first and only company to be doing things like having the ability to wirelessly send content to a TV or effortlessly upgrade to a new device from a cloud backup, track devices, by content, sync content across devices and many other services which have deep roots in the cloud. To say they are not very good or that Google is better is a gross oversimplification.

      • BookWorm

        Serving up small bits of static content doesn’t make you a cloud company, it makes you a CDN.

        When it comes to real cloud services, like Video Streaming, Email, Docs, etc where you actually have to run software on the server, as opposed to just serve binaries, they are far far behind.

        Google’s computing infrastructure is massively more advanced than Apples, until recently, Apple had to outsource to Azure.

        • Prof. Peabody

          By that metric, Microsoft is a better and more successful cloud company that Google. I think you’re argument is thin (and falling apart).

        • godofbiscuits

          “real” cloud services…and then you pick them.

          Video streaming is CDN. File service of any kind, by your definition is “just CDN”.

          The iTunes Store is an entire commerce platform, and it streams video and audio. iCloud syncing works fine.

          CloudKit was just introduced with iOS 8 / OS X Yosemite.

          Google’s infrastructure is geared towards being a computing platform for other people to use. Different audience.

  • xahdica

    Wellp, I almost made it to the end until your paragraphs kept getting bigger as it went on :P

  • DanRowinski

    To note, we actually know little of the Apple Watch. The iOS documentation for the Apple Watch does not exist and so far the Watch is a theoretical beta that Apple showed off on stage. To say, “it is better or worse” than any other particular gadget is to essentially comment on vaporware. Sorry, but its true.

    • StevenDrost

      That is absolutely true, but we do know a few things. They put a lot more effort into it’s design than any other “smart watch” as evidence by the S1, 6 different styles, multiple band styles, etc. It’s not just a companion device, it runs native apps. They also spent a lot of time talking about the S1 “full computer on a chip”. The performance per watt advantage Apple has in the A series chip could give Apple a 5 year lead on the nearest competitor.

      • http://www.sebbi.de/ Sebastian H.

        Pebble and alle Android Wear smartwatches are “full computers on a chip”, they all run their apps natively … some smartwatches even run without a companion device and have GPS built in.

        5 year lead, right … only if they demonstrate a battery life of a week or so ;-)

        • StevenDrost

          My point was on the emphasis of chip design by Apple. pebble and all the other companies designing the watch have never designed a chip. Also Apple has a comanding lead in CPU design, particularly with regards to performance per watt. Full computer on a chip is absolutely Apple marketing BS, but i still anticipate the Apple watch to have a huge hardware advantage.

          • http://www.sebbi.de/ Sebastian H.

            Wouldn’t the always on displays be the biggest power sink in such a device? Pebble has figured that out and is using an off the shelf µC. Android Wear manufacturers can select between a few different chipsets and I just can’t imagine how these chips could be 5 years behind Apples chips.

            Anyway, we will see how long an Apple watch will last per charge. Personally, I probably wouldn’t wear a device that needs daily charging and I doubt the technology for devices with beautiful animations and bright displays is there yet ;-)

    • godofbiscuits

      We know almost everything about the basic physicality of the Apple Watch.

    • GlennC777

      From knowing just one thing about a star – the character of the light reaching Earth from it – we can accurately determine its mass, surface temp, internal temp, how long is its lifespan, what phase of that lifespan it is in, what will happen to it when it runs out of fuel and whether it might eventually become a nursery for Earth-like, possibly life-sustaining planets.

      We do this by using that one stream of data, incorporating other things we already know, and using the process of logic to reach conclusions.

    • Prof. Peabody

      No. They crossed the threshold of the definition of “vapourware” when they demoed the device.

      “Vapourware” is traditionally the kind of thing Microsoft used to do where they would say something was in development to counter a competitor, even though they essentially hadn’t even begun the project.

      Here, Apple has show extensive, working hardware and software. You just cannot buy it yet. It’s not “vapourware” and it’s improper to use that term here.

  • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

    I see Stripe selling to Facebook

  • http://agrepedia.com/ Terry J Leach

    First of all….GREAT POST!!! Agree the notion of what an “app” is will disappear overtime along with many of the current “apps” that do not evolve to provide valuable contextual utilities that bridge the gap between the physical world and the digital world. Currently Google has the edge in the digital world, while Apple seems to be dominating the physical world with great software driven devices.

  • JimGramze

    The biggest problem with Android is so many of the phones out there are literally cheap crap and that cheapens the overall brand impression immensely. When someone compares a cheap Android phone with someone else’s iPhone the difference is huge and, quite honestly, unfair. But that is still a reality, the average Android phone is junk compared to the average iPhone. That puts Android in a very precarious position going forward.

    • obarthelemy

      That cuts both ways: a huge majority of people around me don’t want/need to put $700+ in a smartphone, and, say, a $180 Moto G is certainly not crap.

      • gregmaletic

        Few people experience an iPhone as a $700 device. They experience it as a $199 device, coupled with the same service they’d have to buy if they purchased a Moto G.

        • obarthelemy

          Depends on the country. In mine (France) most people get an unlimited (voice, texts, data, even a few dozens foreign countries) contract for $20-ish (or a 2-hr contract w/ unlimlited texts and 50MB data -enough for Mail and Maps in an emergency- for $3), then an unsubsidized phone.
          Probably explains why iPhone is down to 10%-ish share.

          • gregmaletic

            Oh, thanks for clarifying. Yes, under that model, the phones certainly are in a different price category. Though Apple does have iPhones that approach that pricing (iPhone 4, 5)

  • obarthelemy

    Funny how 1 week after Apple finally got NFC, NFC is now deemed an Apple positive… I’ve been paying for metro rides with my NFC Android for years…

    • trashbat

      I just use my NFC enabled debit card. Also works in many shops for small purchases. Getting my whole phone out would be hassle.

      • godofbiscuits

        Really? As opposed to pulling out your wallet, opening it, taking out the card and then using it?

        • trashbat

          Take card from jeans pocket, place on scanner, put back in pocket. I rarely carry a wallet, because I rarely carry more than one note of cash, and only use a single payment card. I can go days without cash, and for most of my daily expenditure (transport, coffee, groceries under £20) can use NFC payment. I’d feel safer using something biometrically authenticated, but having had my card stolen, it’s the bank that accepts all the risk of an unauthorised payment.

          • godofbiscuits

            I’d say you’re an outlier.

            Then again, your “workflow” with a credit card is still more cumbersome than Apple Pay.

    • pbreit

      Yawn.

    • godofbiscuits

      It’s deemed a means to an end, not a plus in its own right. If Apple could have accomplished the same thing with BLE+accelerometer, like IT ALREADY HAS with other scenarios, I’d bet it would have. But infrastructure for NFC is already in place.

      There are no NFC APIs in iOS 8, just as there was no 3rd party access to Touch ID in iOS 7.

      Does that mean that there will be NFC APIs in iOS 9? Who knows. I hope not. I’d rather see BLE and beacons instead. It’s more general purpose and FAR more capable.

  • JimGramze

    How is NFC on the iPhone not a positive? It might turn out to be a positive for you too if Apple Pay makes NFC payments more common. Innovative it is not, a positive it most definitely is.

    • godofbiscuits

      For all 3rd-party intents and purposes, NFC didn’t come to the phone, Apple Pay did. There are no APIs to access NFC, so it’s really not there for anyone else to use.

  • BookWorm

    I’m not sure how you get that Apple Pay is 3 years ahead of Google. Pretty much every single announcement that Apple made about Apple Pay partners, were in fact, Google Wallet launch partners. Look at the Partner list here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Wallet#Partners) and compare it to Apple’s announcement.

    Every one of those NFC readers that Apple Pay is using is a standard reader that Google Wallet used first. The tokenization technology that Apple uses is not Apple specific and can be used by anyone, but doesn’t really have much advantage of HCE that Google uses.

    Apple has a legacy problem. The vast majority of the 800 million iPhone users don’t have NFC capable phones. But huge volumes of Samsung S2s, S3s, and other Android phones have been shipped with NFC.

    That means, if Apple makes tap-to-pay “cool”, and drives more NFC payment terminals to be deployed, it unlocks huge volumes of Android users, who already have NFC capable devices, and don’t need to upgrade to an iPhone 6.

    The only thing Apple has over Android in payments is TouchID, but event that’s un-needed. A low power ‘ring’ (jewelry) provides an even better authentication factor and would be less error prone than TouchID.

    Long term, NFC is the wrong solution anyway. Payment should be via bluetooth low energy. Square had the right idea with their point of sale systems. I shouldn’t have to stand in line to tap anything.

    And all this stuff about gyros is curious. Flagship Android devices have had just as good, if not better position tracking, for years. So good in fact, that the Oculus Rift used Android hardware for low latency, precision head tracking.

    Apple touts the M7/M8 and the addition of a barometer, but I can’t remember the last Android device that came without a barometer. And Motorola and Qualcomm both shipped low power M7-style processors, used by the Moto X for example, to do advanced hot-wording.

    On the iPhone 5s performance, yes, the web benchmarks are impressive, but why is it that specs don’t matter, until they do? The iOS devices have also been severely RAM limited for years, which means Web browsing flushes out apps from memory, and makes apps switching much slower than Android. So linear performance running Javascript benchmarks goes up, but app launch time gets worse.

    • godofbiscuits

      Google wallet is a bust. Apple pay is something people will use. That’s how it’s ahead. One way it’s ahead.

      Your barometer example is perfect: how is the barometer used? Integrated into Apis devs can depend on? Apple demonstrated its value in 90 seconds in a keynote.

      • BookWorm

        You still don’t explain why they will use it (ApplePay). The reason why no one used Google Wallet is because tap-to-pay offers pretty much no benefit over swiping your card, that’s why. It’s got a dork-douche factor like Bluetooth headsets as well. It looks and feels weird. Square had the right idea: wireless payments. You shouldn’t have to swipe or tap anything.

        Yes, Android has APIs for barometer (http://developer.android.com/guide/topics/sensors/sensors_overview.html), it’s had them since 2011 when the Nexus 4 introduced the barometer. Google Maps uses it to refine altimeter data, and fitness apps like cycling apps, use it for elevation data.

        Barometers are a commodity. In typical Apple fanboy speak, “specs don’t matter” until Apple catches up with a commodity feature that’s been around for years, and all of a sudden you’re supposed to be super impressed they’ve added another sensor.

        Most smartphones today are loaded with sensor packages, Apple isn’t doing anything innovative here.

        • godofbiscuits

          Google Wallet isn’t used for many reasons, one of which is platform integration. Another? Verizon vetoed it on their own Android phones.

          It still takes more effort to take out your wallet, take out the card, then use the card and sign for it.

          With Apple Pay, it’s a one-handed operation, one thing to take out of your pocket.

          Or, just tap your wrist to the pay terminal if you have an Apple Watch on.

          Why MUST you do the ‘fanboy’ thing? There’s a reasonable discussion going on, and then you pull that crap. But moving on…Barometers are a commodity. Big deal, but did you even read what I wrote?

          Apple didn’t just add a barometer. It added the ability for the phone (and probably the watch) to figure out which steps were stair climbing (or descending). The feature isn’t “has a barometer”, the feature is “significantly enhanced step tracking”.

          Do you even have any idea how Apple’s APIs integrate with all the sensors on board?

          Plus, as a developer, I am guaranteed that the hardware is present on a signifiant number of devices, and that it actually works well and works consistently.

          Will my “barometer” code that runs on Moto X run on a Note 4? An HTC One? Will the OS report the data in steps?

          That’s what Apple does better than anyone.

          • BookWorm

            The thread started with a blanket assertion that Apple Pay is 3 years ahead and failed to justify that number in any way. That’s a fanboy claim, with no rational backing (where’d 3 years come from?)

            Apple Pay only works with TouchId and only on iPhone 5S and above, so how could it possibly be so far ahead when the deployed base of iPhones is fragmented in the same way that you claim the barometer is fragmented. The vast majority of deployed iPhones will have no ability to use Apple Pay, since they neither have TouchID nor NFC.

            And yes, Barometer code that runs on a Moto X will run on a Note 4, the Android APIs in question for step detection or barometer reading are abstract. This is no different than your barometer code running on an iOS8 iPhone5S. You’ll simply have to detect if they have the hardware, and fallback or disable the feature when it is not there.

            It is not fanboyism to injection some realism into the discussion wherein people make unchallenged claims of how many years ahead something is, with no data or calculations, or even reasoning to back them up.

          • brookstalley

            I think the author assumed readers would be familiar with Apple Pay’s tokenization model, where the PAN is not shared with the merchant. This differs from Google Wallet which gives your actual PAN to every merchant.

            There is also the privacy side, where Apple can’t see what you buy (or where). This isn’t necessarily “3 years ahead” because it would be contrary to Google’s business model.

            Then there is the in-app purchase side, where your same digital wallet can be used to buy physical goods in mobile applications, again not providing your PAN to the merchant. Just start app, touch ID, confirm, and your product is shipped to you.

            I suppose one can nitpick whether all of that is 2 or 4 years ahead, but if you weren’t familiar with the capabilities to start with, you’re probably not going to be able to argue those points.

          • BookWorm

            Microsoft and Apple to a lesser extent, have for years, been trying to attack Google with the privacy issue, and there’s been no sign that consumers are biting. Consumers simply don’t distrust Google as much as you think, or rather, they don’t care about privacy. Consumers have more worry about security, being hacked at Home Depot or Target by thieves, and HCE protects the consumer as well.

            If consumers cared about privacy, they’d stop signing up for loyalty cards, stop using credit cards all together, and go with cash or cryptocurrency. The last thing a consumer has to worry about in a transaction is Apple or Google getting your data, the companies that actually really “sell” copies of your data (which Google does not), are the very financial services which sit on the other end of the Apple Pay transaction, so basically, tokenization adds little in terms of privacy, but detracts a lot in terms of user experience, because you’ve now made it impossible for consumers to have a one consolidated location to view their transaction history. You can’t do expense tracking on device without a cloud service like Mint (again, losing privacy), or other nice integrated things. In that essence, Apple Pay is behind Google Wallet.

            But let’s say tokenization is something Google wants to do. How do you figure it’s two years to implement it? If you look at Apple’s partners for example, they’s exactly the partners Google already has a long term relationship with. And why do you keep saying “Apple’s Tokenization Model”? This model was invented by the credit card industry, not Apple, and has been a standard for over 4 years now, Visa implemented it in 2010, for example.

            “but if you weren’t familiar with the capabilities to start with…” Nice attempt to insult, but I’m perfectly familiar with the capabilities of the system. If I were writing an article claiming that company A is 3 years ahead of company B, I wouldn’t just assume it’s self evidently true to those with expert knowledge (which it isn’t anyway), I would explain it for my audience.

          • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

            There’s those minor issues of the supermarket knowing what I buy (gasp!) and Google having your profile. Where Google is in a weaker position is the verification system. When people are spending major dollars on their phones, it better be safe, convenient and secret from anyone but the credit card company and the payee. Instead of playing around with engineering prototypes like Glass, they might have done something coordinated for verification. Look, they’re a smart company, and maybe they’ve got something in their Wallet™ already. (By the way, the FBI can ask for your credit records FROM the credit card company. You can subpoena that, which is proper.)

          • Joshua Talley

            Doesn’t Wallet create a virtual Mastercard number and give that to the merchant, not your actual PAN?

          • MeCampbell30

            Yes it does. The tokenization argument was nonsense from day one. No NFC payment system uses direct transmittal of credit card information. That includes google wallet.

            Someone also mentioned that Verizon blocks use of the secure element on Verizon phones. But starting with Android 4.4 the software can emulate a secure element for storage of the token.

            Finally, Apple may not know anything about your brick and mortar payments, but it certainly does know about your online payments using Apple Pay. I suppose some consumers discriminate between the two but most people don’t

        • ggruber66

          You can wonder why people will use Apple Pay or won’t use it all you want. I personally am looking forward to using it. But in the end we’ll see what actually happens and then look back to see who’s the better prognosticator.

      • MuleForRent

        Not so fast. You may be right, but we’re at about the same point now with Apple that we were with Google Wallet, when plenty of people were sure Wallet would take off (what a screwed up launch and development for that product!).

        Point is, we don’t KNOW whether Apple Pay will gain users yet. And we don’t KNOW that Wallet won’t get its act together to catch fire also if Apple Pay takes off (though I’d put my money beside yours if we had to bet on this).

        Wallet isn’t much more difficult to use than Apple Pay. But it is cumbersome enough to be frustrating, and part of the problem has to do with the workflow at some POS, not with the app itself.

        • godofbiscuits

          Every time i use a Wells Fargo ATM or log in to the site, i get a HUGE Apple Pay logo and button to “Learn More”.

          Never saw that for Google Wallet.

          • MuleForRent

            Yes, Apple will kick Google’s butt on both marketing and initial ease of use. If they’re successful they might even have the muscle to drive merchant (and other) fees down through better fraud control. All for it.

          • godofbiscuits

            So we’re saying the same thing. Except why do you qualify ease of use with “initial”?

            First, you treat usability as a box you tick, second, the usability of Apple Pay is consistent no matter how many times you use it.

            If anything, it’s harder *initially*, because you have to input your credit cards.

    • http://www.swift2.blogspot.com Swift2

      Google is great at doing engineering prototypes. Look, nobody was buying the new terminals. How much of the Android world could run Wallet? The phones with NFC, right? Super phones. America was late introducing new chip and PIN cards — but we now have the superior tech here. No cards any more. Encrypted transactions end to end of one-time card numbers. Protected with a thumb reading. No doubt with some work, Google can engineer an ID standard, verify phones that have it, and hope the manufacturers comply. All the 5S’s and 6s will be turned on pretty soon. No doubt, the Android systems will be second — in the market.

      • BookWorm

        Almost half of all Android phones have NFC, last year, 254 million Android phones were shipped with NFC. 120 million the year before that, and over 400 million this year. Source: http://www.cnet.com/news/nfc-enabled-cell-phones-to-hit-416-million-shipments-report/

        I’d say that there are far far more Android phones out there with NFC and it will take Apple at least 3 years or more to catch up with Android NFC installed base.

        Google already protests you with one time virtual card numbers. Google doesn’t need to engineer anything, the tokenization technology Apple uses is an open standard from 2010.

        iPhone 5S’s do not have NFC and so can’t be enabled for Apple Pay.

        By any stretch of the imagination, if Apple manages to sell 150 million iPhones this year, there will still be at 1/4 to 1/8 the NFC installed base of Android. So who’s behind who?

        • godofbiscuits

          Apple Pay isn’t just about NFC. And “shipping” is different than “sold” — my point being, there already ARE, as you note, a huge number of NFC-equipped Android phones, and yet no appreciable usage of Google Wallet.

          And this is all before the Apple Watch launches.

          • BookWorm

            I think you need to ask yourself why. The NFC terminals are there. Google Wallet works on hundreds of millions of equipped phones. So why no uptake?

            I highly doubt it has anything to do with privacy concerns, you’d still see millions of people using it even if only 10% of people were ok with the privacy issues. I also highly doubt it has anything to do with the lack of a thumbprint reader. Chip-and-pin got uptake outside the US, and it requires an onerous PIN entry step.

            What you need to as yourself is, isn’t it possible, that credit card and cash use are so entrenched into people’s muscle memory, and so culturally accepted, that perhaps it is hard to get people to pay with phones.

            This may be more significantly, a cultural issue, not a technological or design issue. Credit cards themselves took 10+ years to catch on.

          • godofbiscuits

            It also has to do with trust.

            The company that scans your email in order to insert ads into that email in order to sell you more stuff?

            Trust THEM with credit cards and your history of purchases?

            It may not be active distrust, but it’s enough to keep people wishing for faster horses instead of opening up to something new.

          • BookWorm

            The vast majority of consumers trust Google and trust it more than many other brands. There’s no way the lack of NFC payments taking off is related to this issue. Most consumers don’t even think about trust, as they freely give out their SSN # to merchants when asked, use loyalty cards which track their purchase history and sell to direct markets.

            Take of your anti-Google fanboy hat for a second dude.

            The real reason for it is simple inertia. Credit cards are too easy to use, especially now that many purchases don’t even require signatures, and the lack of chip-and-pin in the US makes credit cards super fast and easy.

            Phone tapping is simply not significantly better enough to make it a “must have”.

            Square Wallet IMHO is the better system. No tap, no movement required at all. The reason why it failed is because it requires too much point-of-sale integration. Many small shops are not about to throw out their cash registers and replace them with Tablets as the POS.

            The whining about ads is really getting lame. Advertising has funded an immense amount of free content online, billions of documents, that are a boon to people who can’t afford to pay for paywalls. If you’re a poor kid, you’re simply not going to pay to read an article in the New York times or some blog.

            Apple’s business model may not require ads to subsidize it, but it does require using slave labor to make their phones, carrier subsidies to milk consumers and hide the true cost of the devices, and then pocket somewhat obscene profit margins one each device.

            What’s better for a kid in India, buying a cheap Android device and consuming ad supported content, or spending a month’s salary to subsidize Apple profit margins? See you can spin anyone’s business model to make it evil looking.

            The question is, who is being damaged or hurt more. Someone getting free email and some one line ad inserted. Or someone induced by slick marketing to buy a luxury device they don’t need, potentially cutting back on other things that are needed, in a day and age where wages are stagnant and declining nominally.

            I don’t think the average joe is saying “god damn, Google scanned my email, which they have to do anyway for spam filtering and search functionality, and showed me an add. I’m really really hurt by this and I vow to resign and pay for email somewhere else.”

            Gmail use continues to grow because the FUD from the Apple tribe simply does not stick to Google in consumers minds. Microsoft already tried it.

          • godofbiscuits

            I’m not particularly anti-Google, but their business model sucks. if you think SEO is a good long-term strategy, you’re crazy.

            I love Square. That’s the next step. I agree there’s not enough infrastructure there. Apple has the means and the reach to get it there, though. Google can’t even get Verizon to allow Wallet.

            You’re really going to go after Apple about labor practices and not every other handset maker on the planet as well with equal rage, RIGHT AFTER you call me some kind of fanboy? Seriously? That’s seriously ballsy.

            Gmail continues to grow because it’s FREE. Streaming music services grew because….COST. Search for how much a typical iOS user pays for goods and services vs typical Android user and you’ll see what motivates whom.

            I never called Google evil. I say their business model doesn’t make for good long-term conditions, and their approach to “product” doesn’t instill the kind of confidence required to overcome “good enough” (i.e., status quo).

            And we’re still just talking about phones using Apple Pay.

            Apple Pay is also Apple Watch.

            Apple Pay is also an API for iOS Apps. 1-Click is now 1-Click for any iOS app developer.

          • ryanottawa

            “The vast majority of consumers trust Google” .. seriously? :/ Most of my friends generally tell me the opposite.

        • Fraydog

          By percentage, how many of those phones have even made an NFC payment? Most of the people who I know out in the real world have never made an NFC payment. They’re amazed their GS5 can even make an NFC payment when I explain it to them. Google Wallet can’t overcome the carriers. That’s the real problem. All those devices can’t utilize NFC because there’s no clear use case that’s simple for them, that’s so sad if you ask me.

  • sir1963nz

    Missing was the differing approaches Apple and Google take to privacy. Google lives and dies by the amount of information it can collate about you, Apple does not. Android must therefore by design be an information gathering device, a spy if you will, and that information must be given to third parties in some shape or form to be able to monetise it.

    NOTHING is free, its simply comes down to what form of payment is made, with Apple its higher priced hardware, with Android it is a loss of privacy.

  • http://www.semilshah.com/ Semil Shah

    Finally got around to this. As usual, a Cheney masterpiece.

    • Chris

      Nice

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  • http://captainkinnard.com/ Ben Kinnard

    iBeacon + apple pay has powerful potential for offline commerce – bet Amazon is pissed off about that one, its not all Google vs. Apple

  • v@disqus

    Seriously? You really believe that innovation effectively stopped for 10-15 years in chips/hardware?
    Stop right there and think for a second how biased this piece is. This is a ‘wishful thinking” piece, things that you want to be true.

    I’ll take another example: apps. Name ONE company that was iOS-exclusive when it made any serious amount of money. I mean, at least half a billion. And if you believe that this is a high bar – there are several companies in Japan that made that kind of money using Flash Lite, a dead technology that I’m sure you believe “never had any meaningful success”.

    Also, it’s only games that make any sort of meaningful revenue on mobile. And only a tiny amount of them – it’s easier to win the lottery than to launch a ‘killer game’. So your claim that “Without ecosystem players making money, platforms stop evolving rapidly and atrophy” does not really work in Apple’s favor…

    One final point I’ll make: Apple Pay was just launched, Watch didn’t even launch yet. It may be wise to wait a few months before touting them as “decisive advantages”… for all we know now, Apple Pay may well be Ping 2.0.
    Yes, list it at “possible future advantage”; but at least don’t put it under “current advantages”.

    • godofbiscuits

      people got used to excel running faster. And got used to expecting little more than that, yes.

  • tz

    I ponder how Google’s core business affects what Android is. Google’s ultimate mission and cash flow is advertising, and therefore Android is simply tangential, a by product of that motivation.
    Apple on the other hand is out to services customers the best experience, and therefore iOS is a central pivotal factor in Apples business.
    I think this shows in how the two OSs are playing out in the past year or two.

    • MeCampbell30

      While most of Google’s revenue comes from ads Google is also branching out and acquiring revenue streams from other business models. Like iTunes, Google has gotten into content delivery with the Play Store and Google is attempting to challenge MS Office with thier enterprise Google Apps for Work suite.

      It’s a mistake to think Google has no incentive to offer a good experience on Google products.

  • anonymouse14

    To say Apple Pay is 3 years ahead of Google Wallet means you either don’t understand Apple Pay or you don’t understand Google Wallet – each feature in Pay can be mapped 1-to-1 to a feature in Wallet, down to the same protocols being used and the API’s offered to developers for in-app payments. Further, Wallet has web-based API’s which Pay lacks. You don’t really explain how or why Pay is better, outside of it just being an Apple product.

    Your POV is also very US-centric. NFC *has* caught on in almost all of the rest of the developed world.

    • brookstalley

      What’s the 1:1 mapping of Apple Pay’s single-use tokenization?

      • BookWorm

        Tokenization is a standard anyone can use, functionally equivalent to Host Card Emulation with a single-use transaction.

        • Samanjj

          And that was available with Google wallet three years ago?

        • godofbiscuits

          Is it exactly the same as HCE for all conditions related to financial fraud and security?

          Does Google Wallet use Tokenization? HCE?

  • CedricMi

    Android is a Monopoly. ARM is a Monopoly. This is no better than the Wintel Monopoly of yore.

    Technology is always leaning towards monopolies because monopolies mean only one system to support for developers, and the certitude for customers that their applications will work.

    One shouldn’t sell Microsoft and Intel short so quickly. They both are very rich, bright, and fighting for their survival. They could regain at least part of what they lost in mindshare and marketshare. Even if the hardships of Windows Phone, an objectively very good phone OS, shows how hard it is to comeback when you are late.

    Apple is a master designer and marketer but there really is nothing special about their software that couldn’t be emulated by the competition. Already Chinese manufacturers produce smartphones that are arguably as good as any iPhone from a design point of view.

    Android has the sole advantage of being so widespread. The OS is absolutely meh, as is the development Platform, with the very unfortunate choice of java.
    Someday, manufacturers will get tired of Android in the same way they got tired of Windows and will look for alternatives. Whereas Windows is very hard to replace and a huge OS with lots lots of capabilities, they will discover that Android isn’t much more than Linux and push for their own system.
    In my opinion Google knows this and that’s why they are diversifying in robotics and what have you.
    Finally, the case for wearables is still to be made. No smartwatch has ever succeeded yet, for good reasons. Being a second screen for a smartphone isn’t enough to justify many hundreds dollars. Having a ridiculous autonomy doesn’t help.

  • Coomen62

    harlie Rose after Apple’s me

  • stefnagel

    Good thoughts; writing, not so good. See link. And here’s an added suggestion: Publish your post somewhere that five trusted readers can preview and advise, before going public. http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2013/09/10/25-steps-to-edit-the-unmerciful-suck-out-of-your-story/

  • Geoff Adams

    This seems a very US centric piece and at odds to my experience, we’ve recently launched a new app simultaneously on Andriod and iOS and Android usage is out performing iOS by 2 to 1 as are downloads and enquiries, maybe it’s the world we are in (construction) but the feeling over here is that Android is winning.

    • godofbiscuits

      Is the software free? a niche product?

  • Slavomir Such

    Google nexus 5 is much better and sofisticated device than iphone 5S, even a year on the market and half price.

    • Prof. Peabody

      Yeah, black is white, left is right, up is down, etc.
      Just saying it doesn’t make it so.

  • Karl Klept

    Apple warriors typically take thousands of words to say: Android may be more popular but iPhone is superior so game over – Apple won.

  • Michael

    Couldn’t agree more. Apple seems to have the better business model than Google: formidable integration of hardware, software and services to produce non commodity devices most people want to own – and to pay for with money, not by allowing data mining on which Google is based.

  • stefnagel

    You removed my comment that the writing wasn’t good? Really?

  • MuleForRent

    This post seems to over-simplify things to the point of incoherence.

    On-point about iOS efficiency (relevant?), most facets of usability for majority of use cases. Android’s configurability may be loved by geeks like me, but most people don’t really give a rip, and in fact it bites them when manufacturers and carriers pile contradictory app options onto the so-called ‘open OS’.

    Android led iOS with tons of stuff (NFC, mobile payments, wireless charging, panoramic photos, multitasking, removable storage), but Google has done a poor job with making these things easy for users, and consequently a poor job with gaining advantage from their innovations. (think of their flip-flops with removable storage – unbelievable).

    I wouldn’t be comfortable at all were I Apple, though. 14% market share, the vulnerability of a single management chain (killed Blackberry quickly). I would count myself lucky, nothing more, that Google has stayed sloppy and arrogant this long.

    Disclaimer: I use mostly Android, some iOS, usually recommend iOS to others who just want stuff to work.

    • BookWorm

      In many ways, iOS is still more difficult to use and takes more clicks to do something. For example, the lack of a separate app drawer/home screen means that if you’re got 100+ apps, it’s hard to find which screen they’re located on, since there’s no alphabetic sort.

      Use search you say? That helps you launch the app, but what if you just want to find it so you can move it to the first screen, or delete it? You can’t.

      Android makes it easy by having two different kinds of screens. The first, your home screen where you arrange and launch stuff, and second, the app drawer, alphabetically sorted.

      • godofbiscuits

        And every demo I see in every review of flagship Android phones shows they can’t even get scrolling to work as well as it did in the first iPhone.

        No excuse for that.

        Nice cherry-picking of an app management function to make your point, though.

  • cphenner

    Wow. This was expansive, precise and well-written — nicely done.

  • BookWorm

    Another fallacy of this whole post is the idea that chip innovation stopped in the PC era. There’s one area where this is incontrovertibly false, and that’s GPUs. GPUs have been undergoing radical architectural changes since the 90s, from fixed function pipelines, to programmable pixel shaders, to unified shader architectures, and now to compute centric massively VLIW/SIMD architectures.

    Software has similarly evolved, Microsoft drove very fast evolution of DirectX when OpenGL stagnated, and the GPU vendors have been driving other parts of the stack, because of heated competition between AMD and NVidia. Even Apple’s “Metal” that people are raving about is really a copy of the innovation AMD brought forward with Mantle.

    I don’t think Cheney is following the nitty gritty details of the industry he is hand-waving away. If it weren’t for the massive innovation in GPUs over the time period when supposedly there wasn’t any innovation happening, Apple would never have been able to make the iPhone. The GPU in the iPhone is actually the the failed Kyro/PowerVR architecture from the desktop, which got outcompeted by AMD and NVidia when GDDR was invented. At the time, GPUs were coming up against a memory bandwidth wall, and the PowerVR was designed to reduce bandwidth requirements by using tile-based deferred rendering and onchip occlusion culling, but they took too long to deliver, and GDDR ended up solving the memory bandwidth wall.

    So PowerVR took their memory and power efficient architecture elsewhere, and it became the GPU that powered the iPhone 1.

  • Michael Olsen

    Not sure how Google is three years behind Apple in mobile payment. I’ve been using my HTC One to pay for months. Unlock/tap/done….same as Apple Pay will be. All locations that take Apple Pay will take Google Wallet….

    • AbbyZFresh

      The problem is that Google Wallet can only be accessed by KitKat and up users. And that’s a small segment of the Android market.

      • Michael Olsen

        …and for the iphone it is only for 6 and 6+ only. All major android phones in sold in the last year are on kitkat.

        • godofbiscuits

          That’s only for point of sale. But even then, Apple Watch also works.

          Apple Pay also works in Apps on the app store with iPhone 5S because it only requires Touch ID.

  • http://mizine.de/ Viktor Dite

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  • egojab

    Hoping neither Square nor Stripe are willing to sell to Google. Use and love both, would hate having to stop using them.

  • sdsd99

    Thank for this read!

  • http://theindygamerblog.com/ Jeff Palmer

    I totally agree with the notion that it’s the small things about Android that drag down the overall/aggregate experience. Apple tends to make sure these are worked out & polished in a way that Google simply doesn’t.

  • Shriram Bhat

    C’mon people. Just ignore these apple fanboys. Let them claim what they want. Google ,unfortunately for apple beats it in every way possible. Enjoying lollipop in my nexus,while isheep fight and argue to prove that their inferior products are better.

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