There are many tech companies out there, but the market is dominated by a handful of giants shaping our digital lives. We all know them, and use their products and services, and we all know that they do things their own way.
Apple has its own distinctive line of products paired with its own software and services. Microsoft is focusing on software and services, with hardly any devices bearing its name. Finally, Google is focused almost exclusively on services, lending its name to a handful of products (like the Chromebook Pixel and the Nexus line) that are built by other hardware companies.
This was the case until recently – because now it seems that Google is planning to go down Apple’s path, planning to release its own line of hardware, and opening its first store in Lower Manhattan.
Will this be a good thing for us?
It most likely will, especially when it comes to software.
First of all, Google will be able to take full control of its users’ experience by providing them with both software and hardware – much like Apple does. I’ve seen many sub-par handsets running the latest version of Android – to serve as a selling point, I think – that offered a sub-par experience to the user.
Imagine visiting a gaming portal, like europalace.com, and trying to play a game, just to see the browser struggle to render its content. Imagine loading one of the games at the Euro Palace on such a handset, and see your game run choppy. The Euro Palace has done everything it could to make its games run on almost any hardware / software combination, but such a handset is a challenge ever for them. Surprising as it may sound, the same Euro Palace games run perfectly on the same hardware, but with an older version of Android – showing that the games themselves are not to blame for the issues. Neither is the operator.
With Google providing both the hardware and the software – like Apple and Microsoft (in case of its Lumia line) – we won’t have to wait for new OS versions to be rolled out, like we do today. Which is definitely a good thing.
Will this be good for Google?
Maybe, maybe not.
Apple has a clientele comprising of enthusiasts, loyal to their choice of a brand. Google does not have the same following, and it would take them a while to build it from scratch. Besides, Apple is the only company to build iOS-powered devices, while Android phones are made by all other companies (Microsoft might be an exception). Google’s Pixel handsets could only be as successful as the iPhone if they had something exclusive – something important, that every smartphone user craves. At this point, it doesn’t have any.
How the smartphone market will evolve remains to be seen. At this point, it evolves toward diversity – and this is good for us, I think.