The big players in the computing industry are racing to build eco-systems that tie users in to their products and services. Apple is trying hard, and largely failing, with iCloud and Google is following with the Nexus Q and the many recent changes made to Google Play. Where Google wins quite easily is in its ability to provide web services that work at speed and more importantly in harmony. Microsoft is also trying hard, but is struggling a little to deal with the disparate nature of Windows and the fact that so many users are using different computers, different versions of Windows and the free-for-all that is the Windows app industry.
The key to a useful eco-system that can tie people in is in making it work in the home and Apple has led the way here. I always thought that Apple TV was a gimmick until I bought one and was able to tap a button on my iPhone and watch the movie on the TV without doing anything else. It’s all wireless, instant and rather magnificent in its approach. It can play movies and music stored on my iMac in an instant and it all just works. iCloud is way behind this experience and this is where Google leads. I can go to Google Play on my desktop and install an app to my phone without even touching it. Google Calendar, Gmail and all of its other online services are instant and reliable and streets ahead of everyone else.
So, Apple leads in integrated hardware and Google in software, but they both face the same problem in trying to grow their respective markets. They need to tie users in while at the same time letting them be free to make their own choices. Apple is particularly bad at this and often comes over as ruthless in its approach to competition. Google is particularly good at this, but requires a lot of personal information for us to make the most of its services.
Eco-systems are the future and we are poised at a ‘very’ interesting point in their development. As to who will win, let us know your thoughts on the issue.