Google is doing everything that many investors and pundits want Apple to do.
As I wrote yesterday, many refuse to understand Apple’s attempts to build its business by releasing luxury goods instead of commodity products. They argue that the company should release a cheap smartphone, or operate its own data network, or improve its software to a point at which it would seem foolish to use anything besides Apple products. Google has done all that and more.
The cheap smartphone
Many expected the iPhone 5c to be a cheap version of the iPhone made to better compete with the many low-cost smartphones that rely on Android. Everything about the product makes it seem that it could have been a cheap iPhone. It’s running year-old hardware that powered the iPhone 5. It’s “unapologetically plastic” instead of unashamedly metal or unabashedly glass like its predecessors. It’s everything that someone could want from a cheap iPhone — except it isn’t cheap.
The Nexus 5, on the other hand, is a cheap smartphone. Google announced the device yesterday after ignoring months of leaks that detailed its shape, manufacturer, and which version of Android it would ship with. It’s plastic. It features a new-and-improved operating system. It costs just $349 — without a contract — through the Google Play store. Basically, it’s everything we expected from the iPhone 5c.
The data network
People have been wishing for Apple to create or purchase a data network for years. It would allow the company to control even more about the iPhone experience while also helping consumers ditch the reviled carriers of today. Apple hasn’t acted on these wishes, though, and so far appears to be uninterested in becoming a carrier as well as a consumer tech company.
Then there’s Google, which is slowly introducing its Google Fiber network into new neighborhoods and cities. The network offers ultra-fast connections at a lower cost than the (much slower) competition and comes bundled with a television service. If Google were to take this nationwide and introduce a public WiFi system through which people could use their phones without paying many fees, Google Fiber could become the data network people have been asking for. It will simply have been made by Google instead of Apple.
The cloud services
Apple is finally getting good at cloud software. In the last few months, the company has introduced a music streaming service, improved its data sync service, and rebuilt its productivity suite to better take advantage of everything the Internet has to offer. It’s also begun to offer these services for free and use them as further incentive to purchase an Apple product instead of a cheaper device from its competition.
Google is better. The company has become nigh-ubiquitous in everything from search and email to calendaring and video streaming. It continues to improve its productivity suite, too, and is trying to create the next generation of “search” with Google Now. Its services have become so compelling that they’ve become the de facto industry standards. They’re also free, widely available, and indifferent towards what device someone is using to access them.
Apple probably isn’t going to do many of the things its investors and customers want it to. It’s willing to compromise in some instances — the company doesn’t charge nearly as much for its software as it used to — but otherwise it will continue to produce luxury goods that compete on quality instead of price.
Google is willing to do many of these things, though, and has demonstrated that more in the last year than ever before. In many ways, when people suggest that Apple should do many of the things discussed in this post, they’re really suggesting that the company become more like Google.
Is it any wonder, then, that Apple continues to ignore those suggestions?
[Image courtesy jakemaymar]