Apple and Google’s Partners

It’s been a busy couple of weeks in tech news, despite the traditional summer lull where major news is concerned. Among the biggest news this past week has been Apple’s launch of Apple Music and Beats 1, and Microsoft’s sale of its display ad business to AOL (Verizon). I want to use these two particular items to highlight an interesting difference between Apple and Google that’s becoming increasingly clear and it relates specifically to these companies’ relationships with their partners.

Apple, Taylor Swift, and more

The obvious recent news story as it relates to Apple and its partners is the launch of Apple Music and, especially, the way in which Apple capitulated to the demands of Taylor Swift (and to a lesser extent, small independent music labels) in paying royalties. Apple sees musicians and their labels as key partners in its efforts to bring music services to consumers and has done so ever since it first launched the iTunes store a dozen years ago. These partners are critical to Apple’s success but Apple also makes clear, again and again, it wants to sustain and not disrupt these partners, to help them transform their businesses and adjust to the new realities in the music industry. First, the transition to digital and now, the transition to streaming. Though Apple undoubtedly benefits in both cases, its u-turn on paying royalties made starkly clear how committed it is to these partners and to having them as friends rather than enemies.

But Apple’s commitment to partners goes beyond music labels and musicians. Developers are a crucial set of partners for Apple, and it has made huge strides in providing, not just tools for creating apps, but an ecosystem in which those developers can actually make money in ways that don’t compromise their values. The TV and movie industries are another valuable set of partners and Apple’s new TV service is likely to reinforce that relationship. Interestingly, it seems Apple first attempted to partner with Pay TV providers, notably Time-Warner Cable and Comcast, but when those talks went nowhere, it partnered instead with the content owners and is now in the process of bypassing and potentially disrupting those previous potential partners. Yet another example is Apple Pay. Where Apple could have attempted to build its own proprietary payment system, instead partnered with banks and card issuers to create a system which they could benefit from it rather than be disrupted by it.

None of this is to say Apple has never disrupted anyone or that erstwhile partners haven’t eventually been excluded from Apple’s business or replaced by its own efforts. But, for the most part, Apple is a company that understands and leverages partnerships heavily in its business and generally treats those partners well.

Google: losing friends left and right

When it comes to Google, however, the trend is almost all in the opposite direction. Though the sale of Microsoft’s mapping and display ad businesses this week was the headline, an important part of the ad sale to AOL was that AOL would switch its search ads from Google’s to Microsoft’s. And this isn’t the first of Google’s search partners to switch sides – Firefox switched its default search provider from Google to Yahoo in the US late last year and Google has lost several points of market share as a result. Of course, there’s Apple itself. Then-CEO Eric Schmidt was on stage at the first iPhone launch event to talk about the points of integration between Google and Apple (and even jokingly suggested merging the two companies while on stage), but Apple is one of a number of companies which started out as a close partner of Google and slowly saw Google encroach on its territory and, therefore, began to distance itself. This began with the exclusion of YouTube and Google Maps from iOS a couple of years ago but has also more subtly continued with the advances Apple is making in Spotlight and Siri, both of which have switched to Bing as their underlying search engine and are pre-empting many Google searches.

But these aren’t the only partners Google is slowly losing: YouTube too, has been struggling to retain its key creative talent, as channel owners find it harder and harder to make a living on YouTube with the increasing restrictions Google is placing on monetization and they are starting to explore alternatives. The announcement Facebook would be sharing ad revenue with video content creators is yet another sign Facebook is serious about stealing away these creative types and the fact it’s gaining traction is further evidence of how Google has mistreated what should have been valuable partners.

Even when it comes to developers, which Google courts as Apple does with its annual developer conference in the summer, Google is constantly creating conflict with its attempts to get users back to the browser and out of their apps. The Chrome custom tab product announced at this year’s I/O, for example, was presented as a boon for developers, but seems like a fairly transparent ploy to get users back into a domain where Google can track them and serve ads. Its relationship with hardware vendors, too, has been thorny over the last few years as Google has attempted to regain control over Android and reduce the OEM customizations.

There are, of course, counter-examples here too, but the trend seems to be very much that Google is losing many of its most valuable partners one by one. This stems from its ruthless pursuit of its own business and advantages, often at the expense of these partners. If Google doesn’t change this behavior soon, it risks putting its business at serious risk from former partners who turn against it and sidle up to competitors instead.

Published by

Jan Dawson

Jan Dawson is Founder and Chief Analyst at Jackdaw Research, a technology research and consulting firm focused on consumer technology. During his sixteen years as a technology analyst, Jan has covered everything from DSL to LTE, and from policy and regulation to smartphones and tablets. As such, he brings a unique perspective to the consumer technology space, pulling together insights on communications and content services, device hardware and software, and online services to provide big-picture market analysis and strategic advice to his clients. Jan has worked with many of the world’s largest operators, device and infrastructure vendors, online service providers and others to shape their strategies and help them understand the market. Prior to founding Jackdaw, Jan worked at Ovum for a number of years, most recently as Chief Telecoms Analyst, responsible for Ovum’s telecoms research agenda globally.

1,316 thoughts on “Apple and Google’s Partners”

  1. Well if you think about it, no one should ever partner with google, simply because of the nature of their business. They are every business potential enemy, since they will go to where the people are, that’s how they make money. Apple, so far have only provided a good enough experiences on its ios platform, while leaving lots of room for apps developers to come in flourish and thrive on the platform by providing a more richer and expanded experiences. Google needs it’s services to be top notch for users to continue to use them which that in turn then to leave little room for developers to come in and extend on those experiences like they can on the ios platform.

    If you look at all the moves those two companies are making, they are slowly steering their platform to their strengths, their bread and butter. For google, its all about search, the web and browsers. For Apple, it’s all about the product and the hardware. For that reason, Apple business model allows them to be a better fit, a natural partner for many businesses. It also makes them (Apple) less likely to stab you in the back in the future. For those google business partners, the scary thing is their business model give them an edge that is almost impossible to compete with (free).

    What is still up in the air, is whether those concerns are turning into roads block for google. So far, from the outside, I can’t really tell. However, if I were one of those potential business partners of google I would be very leary of them, their track records have not been great.

    1. “If you look at all the moves those two companies are making, they are slowly steering their platform to their strengths, their bread and butter.”

      Agreed. Chris Marriott also touched on this point in his comment, and it’s an important one. Google is not strongly and directly aligned with end users.

      1. Yes, we keep forgetting that Apple’s and Google’s primary customers are a totally different set of people.

        1. That wildly overblown though. Advertisers want views, views are generated by suers… There’s almost a 1:1 relationship between getting end users and generating ad revenues.

          1. Not quite. As you said in another comment: “Aren’t Google’s revenues and profits directly proportional to.. users actually using their stuff ?”

            This is mostly correct but you’ve missed an important detail. Google’s revenues and profits are tied to people using “their stuff” in specific ways that optimize advertising opportunities. The key driver of the user experience is very different. The result is a less strong and less direct alignment with the end user. This is obvious.

          2. What is more obvious is that Google is actually letting their users *not* use their devices as would most benefit Google. You can use a GMS-Android phone but replace the PlayStore, OK Google, gmail, gdrive, Browser/Chrome, Youtube, gdocs… with third-party alternatives, and not only use 3rd-party alternatives, but make them default. You can even install a firewall and make sure to blacklist all Google’s IP adresses if you want a belt+suspenders approach.
            That laissez-faire approach is pretty built into Google’s DNA: they want us to use their stuff because it’s good, not because we have no choice. For ages, they’ve had a Google Takeout tool to export away your data if you wish to switch away, too.
            That’s in sharp contrast the Apple which is all about no choice and lock-in, and I know the concept is hard to grasp for people who’ve never used the Android ecosystem.

          3. The vast majority of users don’t do what you’re describing here, so it isn’t relevant to the discussion. Your experience may differ of course, but I’ve never found any of Google’s services (outside search) to be very good. The reality is that Google is not strongly and directly aligned with end users. There is some alignment yes, but that alignment is driven by Google’s business model. The same is true of Apple of course, and some (like you) view Apple’s model as bad or evil, but there is no question that Apple is by nature more strongly and more directly aligned with the end user.

          4. Possibilities are important. I’m not using my country’s health coverage right now, but It’s very important I got it nonetheless. It’s there if I ever need/want it. Same for the ability to cut ties with Google: if they ever do something egregious, or just stop being good, a tutorial or even an app can migrate everyone away from them and towards substitutes.
            As for Google’s services not being good… I strongly disagree. Granted, some are so-so (hangouts, Music, the PlayStore is a mess…), but search, maps, mail, drive, apps, OK google and others… are not only best in class or competing for it, but also sometimes significantly moved the needle when they where launched: for being free, for using standards (IMAP !), for offering better features (Maps). In the gmaps vs amaps and OKG vs Siri matches, the Google side comes ahead.

          5. “Possibilities are important. I’m not using my country’s health coverage right now, but It’s very important I got it nonetheless. It’s there if I ever need/want it.”

            The difference here of course is how easy it is for you to utilize the system, to make the possibility a practical reality. In the case of healthcare it’s incredibly easy, you’re simply making use of the default system. In the case of cutting ties with Google it is much more difficult, and it is not simply making use of the default system. So again, your argument isn’t relevant.

            I’m glad you like some Google services. I don’t find them to be good enough. Your experience isn’t more valid than mine, it is simply different.

          6. Switching away from Google apps and services is extremely easy. Say, for email:
            1- get an account somewhere else (both Yahoo and Hotmail support IMAP too, now)
            2- Install a 3rd-party email client, K9-Mail is good (it fetches mail, ah !), add the new account to it. You’ll get asked if you want to make it the default mail app next time you handle mails.
            3- In Android’s settings, delete your gmail acount and disable the gmail client, so you don’t pull mail, get app updates, nor a “share to” item for gmail. You can still get your old mail online.

            Congratz, you’re now on a fully non-Google mail track. You can even back your old mail locally via Google Takeout, or even copy/move it to the new email server (IMAP FTW !). Or both.

            I certainly can do mail, web, search, maps, contacts.. in less time that it takes to get a tooth pulled: install alternative app (open alternative account if there’s a server component), make it default when asked, disable Google’s app. Rinse, repeat.

            As for gservices’ quality, it not just me saying it (and actually I’m not qualified to compare them to Apple’s which I don’t use heavily). It’s S. Jobs himself: “- Strategy: catch up to Google cloud services” (source: http://recode.net/2014/04/05/the-six-juiciest-documents-from-the-apple-samsung-trial-this-week/ , that’s a bit below “tie all of our products together, so we further lock customers into our ecosystem” ^^)

          7. This is easy for you, and it’s easy for me. It is not easy for most people, and even though there isn’t much of a learning curve there’s enough friction that most people simply don’t do this. You’re confusing a possible reality with the actual reality.

            But, let’s imagine the vast majority of users do kick Google to the curb and cut all ties. What happens to Google and their services?

          8. Same as any company which loses their customers/users: big problems, leading to maybe a change in paradigm, maybe more efforts on the product, maybe something else. Apple derive 60% of their revenues + a mighty halo effect from a single fashion-driven gizmo, they’re much more at risk than Google ?
            I’d also argue that’s why Google are not about lock-in: they’d rather get early warning if there’s an issue and see it built gradually w/o reaching irretrievable boiling point à la MS/Nokia/RIM.

          9. “Same as any company which loses their customers/users: big problems”

            Yes, but this is unlikely, as the reality is that users do not cut ties with Google. Again, all we’re learning here is that your argument isn’t relevant.

            What we should look at is how Google’s current alignment affects their services and products, and what future risk is inherent in this. Users are not cutting ties with Google, even though that is possible, so we can and should ignore that possible reality and attempt to analyze actual reality. Of course if we get data that shows a significant number of users cutting ties with Google, then it might become relevant, but as of today this scenario isn’t relevant.

            I’m not sure why you keep bringing up Apple, maybe your astroturfing is paid per mention of Apple?

          10. Well, you asked the question, I just answered it. I agree it’s not relevant.
            As for mentioning Apple, we’re (again) in a very biased (again) “Apple vs Google” article. Mentioning Apple seems topical, especially to try and correct the original FUD.

          11. No, I said your argument about users possibly cutting ties to Google wasn’t relevant, and then you spent a few comments arguing the point. Now you agree your imagined scenario isn’t relevant? So why argue with me about it? More and more I suspect you are paid per comment, with a bonus each time you include a dig re: Apple.

          12. And I think you try and amp up your Apple shares , and buttress your Apple-buyer ego each time you make a comment. Who cares ?

            As for the question/answer
            Space Gorilla > obarthelemy • 2 hours ago
            But, let’s imagine the vast majority of users do kick Google to the curb and cut all ties. What happens to Google and their services?

            obarthelemy > Space Gorilla • 2 hours ago
            Same as any company which loses their customers/users: big problems,

          13. No I’m not, I’m admitting I don’t care what you think. You are the one commenting for financial reasons: your shares.

          14. Heh, if only a comment here and there could actually impact Apple’s stock price. Apple doesn’t need my help, their future success is obvious and inevitable.

            Back to your twisted version of *very recent* history, you need to go back just a tad more when I said:

            “The vast majority of users don’t do what you’re describing here, so it isn’t relevant to the discussion.”

            This was my reply to your imaginary scenario of cutting ties with Google. I said it wasn’t relevant.

            Then you proceeded to argue with me, trying to prove that it was relevant:

            “Possibilities are important. I’m not using my country’s health coverage right now, but It’s very important I got it nonetheless. It’s there if I ever need/want it. Same for the ability to cut ties with Google”

            And in another comment:

            “Switching away from Google apps and services is extremely easy.”

            You even added a handy list of steps to show how easy it was to cut ties with Google. Each time you argued the point and each time I said it wasn’t relevant because users don’t actually do this.

            But hey, it’s all good now because you’ve decided to agree with me. The imaginary cutting ties with Google scenario is not relevant. You do still agree with this, right?

          15. You also said it was hard. 1+3 steps (create account, download app, make it default and disable Google’s) isn’t hard.

          16. Sorry, I never said it was hard. You’re always harping on reading comprehension so here’s exactly what I said: “even though there isn’t much of a learning curve there’s enough friction that most people simply don’t do this”

            So, now you’re back to arguing that an imaginary scenario where users cut ties with Google, even though that isn’t happening, is relevant to this discussion. Dude, pick one and stick to it, please! It either is relevant or it is not relevant.

          17. “Sorry, I never said it was hard.”. Erm.
            Space Gorilla > obarthelemy • 4 hours ago
            “In the case of cutting ties with Google it is much more difficult, and it is not simply making use of the default system.”

            It do take “much more difficult” to mean at least “hard” ?

          18. It will be helpful to look at *all* of what I said and not just a snippet out of context that fits your imagined narrative. Here’s what I actually said:

            “The difference here of course is how easy it is for you to utilize the system, to make the possibility a practical reality. In the case of healthcare it’s incredibly easy, you’re simply making use of the default system. In the case of cutting ties with Google it is much more difficult, and it is not simply making use of the default system. So again, your argument isn’t relevant.”

            It should be obvious from the *whole* paragraph that ‘much more difficult’ was in relation to ‘incredibly easy’ and ‘default system’. That’s tough to argue against, although I’m sure you’ll try. Cutting ties with Google *is* much more difficult *than* using a default system which requires no additional effort.

            I’ll end this now. You’ve caused enough pollution of the Techpinions site. Maybe the proper approach is to just ignore you. That seems to have rid Asymco of your nonsense. Perhaps the same approach will work here.

          19. You’re very welcome to ignore me. Arguments that “much more difficult” means “easy” are fun, but not that interesting.

          20. And no, As I said before, I don’t agree that lock-in is irrelevant. Lock-in always comes back to bite buyers/users. That’s why Apple is pursuing it in a very focused manner.

        2. Google should be regulated as a public utility. Reason being, you don’t really have a choice of using them. Their partnership network runs too deep. Even Apple has received, I believe $2.7 billion to have them as the default search. So before we get too righteous, Apple has sold out their own customers to Google.

    1. Well here’s where we definitely have some common ground. There’s plenty of hubris to go around. Where we may differ, I can’t speak for you, is that Apple’s hubris isn’t ‘good”, in fact, it may be worse because it extends directly to the user level.

  2. You mention that Google should change its behaviour. At the same time, I wonder if it can. I wonder if there is something in Google’s culture or even in it’s business model that pushes it to act the way it does. If that is the case, telling Google to change its behaviour is like telling a drug addict to stop; it just can’t even if it tried.

    Although I myself haven’t been very successful, I try to understand if Google indeed has an addiction and what that might be. I think it’s related to their tendency to provide services for free but I haven’t yet given it enough thought.

    1. It’s as you said in your second paragraph, it is related to their business model. If they try to change, their business model will suffer.

      1. Of course not. The only situation where it would be a problem is if following its mission was destructive to the company. This is what I want to understand.

        As with anything and with any company, there are unintended consequences to any mission. The question that I have is whether this applies to Google right now.

          1. I have some vague hypotheses suggesting that Google may be on a destructive path, but the evidence is still very weak.

            Since you have be careful not to introduce bias, good evidence is hard to collect. As I have mentioned in a separate comment, I find the evidence presented here in Jan’s article to actually be very weak.

    2. Google’s tendency to give products for free is based on being an internet company at their core, in the internet the key competitive advantage is network-effects ,and to get that you need to give stuff for free. To a certain extent with everything being connected, Every-thing behaves more like this.

      But than after you give stuff for free, and you achieved lock up , you might even charge money. For example youtube music subscription and youtube children subscription.

      1. Yes, but not every Internet company ends up behaving the way Google does (How it does behave is actually not yet well defined in the context of this argument. As I have mentioned before, I’m not convinced that the examples in this article suggest evil behaviour by Google).

        My current hypothesis is that a lot of Google’s behaviour is related to the fact that it provides services for free, but at least for the purpose of understanding it’s relationship with partners, it’s not likely to be the main reason. There are too many companies providing free services on the Internet which however demonstrate different behaviour.

  3. The sad truth is that Google is a service company, therefore their natural partner are hardware maker, (ie) Android, Chrome OS, etc, and their potential enemies are other service providers, the same is also true for Apple who treat their component partner like Samsung, Boss Fit bit and many others as enemies because their compete with them

    You said that Google treats the contents creator on YouTube badly at the same time praise Apple for they way they treat IOS developers.

    Have you spoken recently to IOS’s developer before writing this?

    With all these antis Google Article I see pop up everywhere in almost every Apple blogs, sometimes I wonder if you all have an hidden agenda behind it, or if it’s just a matter of fear.

  4. I’m bemused by the whole article.
    – where’s the context ? Google as a lot of OEMs partners for example, who seem quite happy, whether in phones, cars…
    – the confusion between suppliers/clients and partners has irked me since my very first days as a sales rep. Partner means you exchange something beyond money vs product/service.
    – Lately in the news, Apple has mostly instant-banned all apps with a confederate flag (some of those were legit cases, says civil war wargames), then un-banned some, with no warning and no explanation. Does that smack of an healthy “partnership” (your word). Maybe communicating would upgrade the relationship status to “partnership”, right now it is anything but. But hey, devs finally got a modern language to write in, only about 15 years late ^^
    – In the same vein, they have un-certified Monster (for having contractual issues w/ Beats) and are no longer selling Bose gear. Basically anyone working with Apple is on an ejectable seat, whenever political or business winds turn, or Apple decides it wants a specific business for itself.
    – The backpedaling on song revenue seems weird: was Apple’s collective strategizing unable to foresee the issue (that seems surprising “hey, we’re gonna give your stuff for free so we can lock in our user. For 3x longer than anybody else. So good amirite ?”) ? Did they backtrack because of the issues, or of Mrs Swift’s PR ?
    – The flow is not as one-way as you try to make it. Some gaming content creators are happy to have an alternative to Twitch; Google is taking steps to improve in-app data collection and ads…

    1. I agree that this article could be considered one-sided.

      Although I agree that there might be some brewing tension between Google and partners, whenever we engage in this kind of argument, we have to be careful to not bias the examples or arguments. This article fails to do that.

      For me, the most obvious bias is the Firefox default search example. Unless we have knowledge of how much each bidder was willing to pay, we cannot reject the most likely hypothesis that Yahoo simply outbid Google. Unless we know that Firefox chose Yahoo because it hated Google and not because Yahoo paid more, this example simply should not be included.

      Although I do sense that confidence in Google may be waning and that this may be related to how they treat their partners, it’s very difficult to measure. Including dubious examples doesn’t help.

  5. My, how far the world has changed if Apple is now the poster boy for “plays well with others”. I think the biggest difference between Google and Apple is that Google wants to own and control everything. Every market, every demographic, every product category, every piece of information, everything they can possibly gobble up. Apple only wants to sell devices to the higher end of the market and wants to gather as little private information as needed to remain competitive.

    Put things that way, I just realized why Google is so creepy. They kind of sound like Dr. Evil.

    1. Except they don’t. Apple are the ones who censure competing apps (or any app they don’t like:confederate flag, sex, …), Google are happy to let OEMs include directly competing apps, even whole appstores, right on their devices’ home page. And make their core OS FOSS.
      How someone can try to turn the facts around to such an extent is unbelievable.

      1. Except they don’t what?

        How you can twist somebody else’s words to suit your agenda, that’s what is unbelievable.

        I laid it out clearly enough for a five year old: Apple targets the upper income tier of the market. Google wants to corral everyone into Android– not just everyone, but everyone’s private information. That is undeniable, which I suppose explains why you proceeded to put up and attack the tired old straw man of openness and censorship.

        One company curates its ecosystem more tightly than the other. Apple does what it does because it believes, rightly or wrongly, that a highly curated ecosystem leads to a better product for its customers. Google on the other hand believes a more loosely curated ecosystem is actually what its customers prefer. How could they arrive at two diametrically opposed approaches? Simple, they have different sets of customers. Apple’s customers are the device owners, Google’s are advertisers.

        No matter how many logical and rhetorical contortions one employs, it remains an inescapable fact that Android device owners are not Google’s customers. I would not trust a company who claims they have my best interests at heart even though their revenues and profits come from someone else.

        1. Aren’t Google’s revenues and profits directly proportional to.. users actually using their stuff ? The main difference is Apple derive most of their revenues from device sales, while Google derive their revenues from users using their services (hence generating ads and data). Both want the same thing: more users. It’s simple enough for.. I’ll raise you one, let’s say a four year old ?

          Curation and censorship are very closely related, especially when there’s no choice but to shop at the censored shop. And it’s not done only for the users’ good, it’s also done to further Apple’s commercial interests. One company openly tracks you and gives you ways out (just replace Google’s stuff with others and set defaults accordingly), the other purports to not do it, though they’ll do it when they think they can get away with it: https://nakedsecurity.sophos.com/2012/10/17/how-to-disable-apple-ios-user-tracking-ios-6/ , and won’t let you replace their stuff (tracking included, beacons included). Painting one as evil and the other as holy just doesn’t make sense.

        2. Apple targets the upper income tier of the market.

          This is the biggest misconception ever about Apple. They don’t actively target the upper income market, they offer heavily subsidised plans that everyone can afford. Selling a 10k smartwatch would be targeting the rich, but they also sell the sport version.

    2. I understand your logic, but the results do not agree. I have never come across any brand survey that paints Google as an evil and creepy company. Granted, this might change in the future, and it might happen soon. However for the meantime, we have to recognise that in almost every brand survey, Google ranks very high.

      That’s for consumers. Regarding Google as a business partner, unfortunately we do not have any survey results on whether Google is regarded a nice partner or not. On the other hand, Apple was reported to be the main reason behind GT Advanced (the sapphire supplier) going bankrupt. It’s very clear that Apple is a very tough negotiator, and not necessarily what one would call kind or even fair.

      So is Jan’s article without any substance at all?

      I don’t think the problem is losing partnerships. It’s OK to be tough with business partners and it’s OK to bully them to a certain extent, and even sometimes cause them to go bankrupt. That’s what negotiations are about. The problem is elsewhere, and I think one large problem is that Google does not always seem to have a good plan B. For example, with the Apple Maps issue, Apple clearly had a plan B (Apple Maps). It wasn’t as good as plan A, but it has improved and Apple has arguably gotten stronger by going through with plan B. However, Google did not have a good plan B. They simply lost a significant chunk of iOS users. As Apple partners with Bing and others for Siri, and extends its capabilities to the point where iOS will use Google much less frequently, Google needs to recognise that the risk of losing its current partnership with Apple (default search on Safari) is imminent. Apple is preparing its plan B in plain sight. The question is what is Google’s plan B for ensuring that iOS users will be shown Google ads?

      Also regarding Android OEMs. The partnership with Samsung is of paramount importance, but here again, Samsung is preparing its plan B (Tizen) in plain sight. It’s not nearly enough yet, but Samsung is preparing for the day when they might decide to cut ties with Google. The question is, what is Google’s plan B? They are being tough on Samsung and forcing them to stick to plan A. However, do they have a contingency plan? A contingency plan would comprise of helping either LG, Huawei, HTC, Motorola or Xiaomi to beat down Samsung in both the high-end and low-end markets, if they were ever to move away from Android. Or maybe Google could try to make its own hardware. If Google had a good plan B, they should be chipping away at Samsung’s dominance in high-end Android market share, but that hasn’t been happening.

      The question of whether Google is creepy or evil is really not the issue. The question is whether Google is prepared for when partners go away.

      1. Perhaps the problem for Google is that how it makes money (gathering data and selling ads) is too easily disrupted. If software is eating the world, it becomes more and more unlikely that Google can be everywhere, which means they’ll keep losing little bits of the data/advertising/revenue pie. Even Android is diverging in ways that Google can’t control and gets no benefit from. Of course this doesn’t mean disaster for Google, it just means Google probably won’t be dominant five years from now.

      2. I think you’ve articulated one of the key differences here. People talk about this much as they usually focus on the platform and business model differences, but Apple is very strategic in its approach to almost everything, and very careful.

        This probably comes from its near death and a deep understanding of the importance of doing more with less. The company that introduced the iPod had about the same market cap as Dominos Pizza does today, but it managed to create the string of immense successes we’re all familiar with, and for the most part it is operating today with the same DNA.

        Google on the other hand has never had a lean moment, beginning with near-instant success and catapulting itself straight into the market-cap big leagues with its IPO. The company is driven by an ideology, which I sometimes like and sometimes don’t, but doesn’t seem driven by much of a need for fiscal efficiency. It famously operates on the throw-everything-at-the-walls-and-see-what-sticks approach. Maybe careful, smart decision making is actually an advantage.

        1. If I had significant proof that Google is indeed souring its relationships with its partners (which I don’t think I have yet), I would probably try to make the case that the throw-everything-at-the-walls-and-see-what-sticks approach is very ineffective at making breakthrough products, and instead skews strongly to treading on the toes of partners, competitors and everyone else in between. If you have too many unrelated products that are spawned without much discipline, then it’s no wonder that you will find yourself copying and needlessly competing with your partners.

          Having said that, if I were to gather proof for my thesis, the examples would probably be very different from the ones in this article. There are many much better ones like how they compete with Yelp, Amazon, RottenTomatoes, TripAdvisor etc. by scraping off their content and manipulating the search result ranking, for example. I think that this better demonstrates Google’s attitude towards the IP of others, which they also direct to their closest partners.

          1. I don’t know if Google’s method doesn’t work. There seems to be deep thought and good strategy at least behind some of their products, for example material-design[1] Google Fiber(which succeeded in increasing net speeds in the u.s.) and even android wear[2] – so their strategy could be considered successful in that regard.

            [1]Material-design basically took Apple’s and Apple’s app devs strength – design – and broken into rules and commoditized it so even people without artistic talents could create good designs.

            [2]Like we talked before – the iWatch sold lots, and still no sales for the android watch. Does this mean That Apple owns the only segment who will buy this ? Does this mean Apple can market it better ? Or does this mean Android Wear is an inferior product(not likely – very similar to Apple Watch).

          2. I do think that Google’s method works in some cases. That is not my argument.

            I just don’t think it works well for breakthrough, new category products. I also think that Google’s approach tends to expand too widely the scope of their products, and hence the battlefronts with other companies. With so many battlefronts, it gets increasingly harder for Google to find partners who aren’t also their competitors. At the same time, the strategic value of many of these battlefronts is often dubious.

            The question for me is not whether Google’s method is effective or not. The question is that by throwing everything at the wall, you are creating enemies even in the markets where your efforts didn’t stick. You are making enemies when it isn’t worth it at all.

          3. There are many much better ones like how they compete with Yelp, Amazon, RottenTomatoes, TripAdvisor etc. by scraping off their content and manipulating the search result ranking, for example. I think that this better demonstrates Google’s attitude towards the IP of others, which they also direct to their closest partners.

            That doesn’t make sense, how is Google disrespecting their IP when it rebuilds their search results? It’s a totally new ranking, isn’t?

          4. Are you aware that FTC’s investigation claimed that Google’s “conduct has resulted – and will result – in real harm to consumers and to innovation in the online search and advertising markets”?

            http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/mar/20/google-illegally-took-content-from-amazon-yelp-tripadvisor-ftc-report

            Staff also found Google illegally took content from Yelp, TripAdvisor and Amazon to improve its own services. In one instance, Google allegedly copied Amazon’s rankings for how well products were selling, and used them to rank its own results for product searches. Reviews and ratings were also found to have been lifted from Amazon.

            Google was also found to have used its muscle to threaten sites that complained about their content being “scraped” or lifted without permission. When competitors asked Google to to stop scraping their content, they were threatened with removal from the search engine rankings, the FTC staff found.

          5. FTC’s investigation claimed

            Anyone can claim anything. If it’s not official, I don’t care.

            This would generally be considered as copyright infringement

            And you are a hypocrite for supporting companies who built their wealth on the backs of their users’ work but not Google.

            When competitors asked Google to to stop scraping their content, they were threatened with removal from the search engine rankings, the FTC staff found.

            You cannot be serious. That article is full of sensational bullshit. Google scrapped and used content from the Internet (duh, it’s what it does), companies asked for Google to stop that, and Google responds “sure, but you know you just asked me not to include you in my search engine ranks, right?”

            Seriously, there’s nothing exciting here. It’s just how businesses work.

          6. You clearly have very little understanding of copyright law.

            Let me be clear. Countries are governed by law. Not by how certain Internet businesses work.

          7. Whether or not they are actually charged is not the issue, especially when you consider that most lawsuits are settled out of court. The issue is that Google repeatedly behaves questionably and creates many enemies, but the strategic significance of doing so is often unclear.

            They are not picking their fights carefully enough and I believe this is an indirect result of doing too many projects in often scrappy ways.

            http://www.dailytech.com/Google+FTC+Settle+Antitrust+Spat+Without+Any+Fines/article29540.htm

          8. Whether or not they are actually charged is not the issue

            That’s exactly what the issue is. If a court doesn’t settle this, who will? You? Because I beg to differ from your opinion. So what now?

            The only reason to settle is when you are not confident you’re gonna win. And to have the audacity to say that you own copyright of the hard (and free) work of your users which got you there on the first place is the highlight of their hypocrisy. Give me a break.

          9. So? Settlement proves guilt these days? Or was it innocence? Does it depend on your favorite company of the day?

          10. Or you could try and have a discussion and a point instead of one sentence dismissal for people who don’t automatically believe “Google is evil, obviously, no proof needed!”

          11. FYI Google became the 2nd largest lobbyist in Washington DC in terms of spend

            That’s how/why FTC dropped their suit & essentially became Google’s PR agency.

            Money is speech

  6. Thinking back on it, should we count Google and Samsung amongst Apple’s “friends” ? They’re sure doing a lot of business together, I’m sure you’d call that a “partnership”. Yet Apple professes to be in a holy war with one, and keeps suing the other (which is apparently sufficient cause to sever all ties when it’s Monster instead of Samsung). Is it a sign of strength or weakness that Apple is so dependent on them ? Or a revelation that Apple will do whatever earns money, whatever the smell ?

    1. At the all things D interview, Steve Jobs said this in reply to a question about whether they will remove Google as the default search engine.

      Just because we’re competing with someone doesn’t mean we have to be rude.

      Viewing the competition among these companies as an all out war is misleading. Suing a company doesn’t mean that you want to destroy them. It just means you want them to stop, but they wouldn’t listen.

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