Google has been a software company and has always followed the strategy of licensing. It makes the software but never actually makes a product out of it. Until now, it had Samsung, HTC & LG designing its hardware. Unlike Apple, which has always been creating its own software and hardware.
Since last year, Google has ventured into manufacturing. They created an initiative “Made by Google” to get into premium devices.
Back in 2007, while launching iPhone, Steve Jobs quoted Alan Kay,
“People who are really serious about software should make their own hardware.”
Apple disrupted the market so hard that no one has surpassed Apple in the smartphone race yet. Whatever Apple does, everyone follows. More accurately, Apple has pulled off things which others couldn’t and now, even they follow Apple.
In the past, Microsoft did beat Apple in personal computer space.
What did Microsoft do?
Microsoft created Windows and started licensing it. Soon it flooded the market with tons of options to choose from. It was cheaper to buy a Windows PC than a Mac. All this helped Microsoft gain traction, which has a lot of perks, keeping the ball rolling.
Google, Samsung and many more tried to beat Apple this way. Google makes the software and its partners make hardware. Just like Microsoft made Windows and Dell made PC. But this time everyone is failing.
What is everyone missing?
Apple is the only one with the secret sauce.
“There’s no other company that could make a MacBook Air and the reason is that not only do we control the hardware, but we control the operating system. And it is the intimate interaction between the operating system and the hardware that allows us to do that. There is no intimate interaction between Windows and a Dell notebook.”
— Steve Jobs
A lot of Apple products are considered benchmarks and it’s because of how revolutionary they are. Others follow standards and end up making things which are similar to one another.
Try shopping for an Android phone, you’ll find a lot of options that are more or less same. It’s confusing what’s better.
“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.”
— Steve Jobs
Apple makes one phone each year. Though Apple has started offering different sizes for a model, nevertheless they can be categorised as one flagship.
With an iPhone, you just buy an iPhone. You can trust it’s the best Apple has to offer and it’s at par with any other phone in the market.
This helps Apple create an image that an iPhone is an iPhone and not just a phone.
Microsoft realised the importance of creating its own device soon when iPad and Mac started eating its sales. Microsoft was never considered as a premium brand. For a PC this doesn’t matter much, as business is the biggest market, which wants whatever’s cost-effective. But things change drastically when it comes to consumers. They want well-designed devices.
Microsoft’s partners were not able to do so. Every partner wanted to stand out among themselves but in reality, they all were just a variation of one another.
Microsoft soon realised this and launch their own line of products named “Surface”. This product line is being received very well, they are considered premium. A surface product is seen as the best marriage of Windows and hardware. Remember Surface Studio?
This has worked so well for Apple & Microsoft that now Google has switched its strategy, risking relations with its partners.
Google is now making its own products like Pixel series, Chromecast, WiFi routers, Google Home and many more. Google wants to create “Pixel” a premium brand. It wants to show the best of its softwares which wasn’t possible with partnering.
Google took things to the next level when they took the “Made by Google” strategy. Unlike Apple, Google has its hands almost everywhere, prominently in machine learning and artificial intelligence. They are putting these expertise to good use when creating their own set of products.
All Google products come together very well to help you. You have the same Google assistant in your laptop, phone, speakers, also now in your ear to help you. They even combined Google translate and Google Pixel Buds to give you real-time translation both ways in 40 languages.
This might have been possible when partnering. But Google choose to go solo. Maybe it’s not willing to share all its expertise with them or it might have taken more time to develop or just that Google wants perfect design and integration.
Whatever may be the reason, they are now offering their own device family just like Apple.
“Devices that work together to make life run smoother.”
— Made by Google
What the future holds?
In my opinion, we will see both Apple and Google making their own devices for some time. But my belief is that Google will come out on the top when the dust settles.
Google has shifted to an “AI first” approach. Google’s AI and machine learning is the biggest weapon it has. They have started using it in their devices while Apple relies on best hardware, design & integration of software to hardware.
Apple was the first to bring voice assistant to the market. But today Google Assistant is way smarter than Siri.
Apple is not going to sit and watch Google win. They are hiring talented people in AI and machine learning. But Google sure has an upper hand in coming war.
Do you think Google is becoming like Apple? Comment with your views.
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