Sometime last week Google released their much anticipated Maps App for iOS and caused mad app downloading hysteria in one night, and FanBoys on each side stirring up trouble. Android Fans pissed that Google gave the iPhone Maps, Apple Fans still pushing Apple’s Maps as better. I guess you can’t please everyone.
Anyway even before that Eric Schmidt made the comment, “The Platform War is Over and Android won” which I agree with, but with some caveats. I believe Eric is talking about the platform war in regards to the race to get user market-share. That has always kind of bean what the platform war is about. Companies create services and hardware to attract more and more users, Google needs it to push more ads, Apple and Samsung needs users to sell more hardware. Anyway I won’t get into business model differences here.
My point is that the Platform War was more of a battle, to see what OS will become dominant. What platform will more users be using. The answer is a resounding Android and you really can’t argue with that. However, the platform battle is a big chunk of the larger Ecosystem War. Google, Amazon, and Apple are the big three players on the ecosystem side. Samsung and other OEMs do not play in their league, and will probably never play in their league.
Each ecosystem offers a robust App Catalog, Music, Video, Books, Magazines, and services all integrated together for the user. However each company is fighting the Eco-System War differently.
Amazon provides users with a forked Android experience taking the popularity of Android and using that to create their own App Catalog which is basically Android Apps. They key here is that Amazon now has app exclusives and offers competitive pricing pulling Android users into their store. Amazon additionally has Music, and Video offerings which rival that of iTunes in pricing and availability with Amazon starting to offer their complete ecosystem on the Android and Apple ecosystem it will eventually start poaching users from iTunes. Amazon does not have it’s own smartphone which is the primary device these days. So it does create an issue when you have to relay on another Ecosystems primary device to put your ecosystem on.
Google’s Ecosystem is built on Android, and is a different beast. Google considers Android the Ecosystem of ecosystems, touting it as an OS that is designed for you to choose the ecosystem of your liking. However, because Google basically controls the Android OS, they make sure Google services are more deeply integrated into the OS at it’s core. This includes features like Google Search and Google Voice, which is much more integrated than Skinned versions of Android. Now Google’s move is to offer their services to as many users as possible. Because Google does not sell products like Apple, or Product and Services like Amazon. Google sales targeted ads. That is how they make their money. So the more people that are using Google services the better Google is at targeting ads accurately. This is why you do see Maps, Search, Chrome, Drive, Earth, and other services for iOS. I think we will eventually see Google Music, Google Magazines, Books, and other content come to the iPhone as a native app as well. Yes I know Android phones will balk, but it is business, I think as Android becomes more polished the OS will be able to stand on it’s own. I think we are at that point that the majority of people want Android because of Android. I predict Google Now will stay an Android exclusive until the OS is 100% polished, and then they will port it out to iOS.
Now we all know Apple’s ecosystem, it is more of a closed wall ecosystem on the mobile side. They do not offer their services natively for any other OS. You basically need to find an app that will be able to tie into iTunes, AirPlay, iCloud, etc…This aspect basically forces the user to purchase Apple hardware if they want full integration to their services. Is it right? Yes, it is right for Apple, they are a hardware company, and that is how they make their money. Think if Apple just the iTunes app for Android, that will cut into their bottom line because they are no longer making money off the hardware purchase which is about 60% of Apple’s profits. If Google loses an Android user because of Maps (It will happen but it won’t be anything major) Google still makes their cash because that user is still using their services and is still tied into their ecosystem.
Long story short Apple provides probably the best streamlined ecosystem compared to Amazon and Google, when the user completely buys in to Desktop, Phone, Tablet, and TV. However we all know the majority of people operate in mixed platforms something Like iPad, Android Phone, Windows Desktop, and an Apple TV or Roko. When that is the typical device make up of a user it is inevitable that the company that wins the Ecosystem war will be the company that has more interoperabillty between the different platforms.
So who wins? I honestly don’t know I think the battle for the Television space will play a huge role on how the ecosystem battle shifts. I do feel Google is winning on the shear fact Android has more users, and their services are accessible to more people regardless of platform. As Google begins to create more native Apps on iOS rivaling Apples services Google can start making huge jumps ahead.