Apple and Google are interesting companies to compare. Obviously, in terms of size and profitability they both tick the right boxes. For years they have been partners and that partnership has been very successful in creating profits for both parties. But times change and so does business, probably nowhere quicker than in the information and technology sector. In recent years there has been a drastic shift in these companies from partners to rivals, and there are bound to be some casualties when this happens.
Both companies constantly change their strategies en objectives and always have to weigh up the ‘goldilocks’ zone in terms of cooperation. In other words, as the balance shifts from pure partnerships to a new rivalry, they don’t want too little cooperation where they don’t maximize profits; nor do they want too much cooperation where the part of the other company that has become their rival knows too much. No, they want the amount of cooperation to be just right, like Goldilocks described the porridge.
That is all good and well, and obviously I have no idea of the inner workings of Apple or Google, but one fact remains: consumers should never be disadvantaged because of the changes in strategy. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened with Apple introducing their own mapping solution instead of sticking with Google’s in the recent release of iOS6.
Now that the Apple iPhone5 has been unleashed to consumers and more and more people and publications are getting their hands on it, there seems to be some reoccurring themes in all of them. The Apple Maps service is not up to scratch. Let me begin by showing some funny mistakes on Apple Maps:
- Manhattan has apparently been moved to Brooklyn and the Helsinki railway station is in someone’s yard.
- A very interesting bridge has been built within a week.
- Berlin shall from now on be situated in Antarctica.
In my opinion, Apple made a huge mistake dropping Google Maps at this stage. They have a very loyal following and the last thing they would want is to alienate their customers. There are those conspiracy theorists that say Google decided not to support Apple anymore, but that doesn’t make any sense. Google obviously get huge royalties from Apple using its impressive mapping system. But it’s not all about the money.
There are millions of iPhone users out there, and whenever their Maps is connected to the internet, Google receives all the precious information most of its business is built upon. I believe that is why Apple made this decision. While I can understand it, it was certainly not the right time to do so. Apple is basically screwing its customers out of the best experience possible because they don’t want to help Google improve Google Maps anymore.
Funnily enough, Google is doing the exact opposite lately. They are releasing as many apps that use their services on iOS. Apple let Google take control of the YouTube app, and Google totally overhauled it and made it superior in every way. Google also released a great Google+ app and most recently released an iOS version of Google Drive that has all the capabilities that its Android counterpart has.
Of course Google is doing this to get as many people using their services as possible, so Apple allowing these apps on the App Store boosts Google’s revenue, but that doesn’t matter. Apple allowed it because those apps make the iOS experience, and more importantly, the iPhone experience better. Apple’s Maps on the other hand, does not. It’s not only the strange mistakes I showed above, but also simply a lack of information. Look how the information differs for the same locations.
- San Francisco University (which map would be useful for a student or visiting parent)
- San Francisco International (Apple’s map shows no detail whatsoever)
I have no doubt that Apple can catch up, but that could take years. That’s years of iPhone users forced into using an inferior product because Apple wants to limit Google’s access to iOS as much as possible. Google’s CEO Eric Schmidt recently spoke in Japan, and basically said that Apple would have to beg Google to release a version of its app on iOS. He further added “we think it would have been better if they had kept our app. But what do I know?”
One thing is for sure, battles between platforms are bad for innovation. The Apple vs. Android lawsuits is dragging on, with no end in sight. But rarely before has this had a direct impact on the end user, like it does here. Customers are being punished by Apple’s decision to cut Google Maps from iOS. This decision should have waited a couple of years until they could offer a product that does not hinder the customer’s experience, in my opinion.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.
Pictures source: Cnet