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Monday, Sep 16, 2019

Sticking a knife deep in the gut

Apple’s new iOS upgrade hits Google in multiple areas, and continues the ‘thermonuclear war’ between the two firms.

brunch Updated: Jun 16, 2012 18:44 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times

Hitting below the belt, a stick into the eye, a sledgehammer straight to the gut... it doesn’t matter which melodramatic phrase you use. Apple did all of that and more to Google at the WWDC (Worldwide Developers Conference) event that took place a few days ago in San Francisco.

This means War
The Apple-Google story is one of great drama and intrigue. At one time, the two companies were great friends with deep relationships forged between key players. In fact, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt was an active member and sat on Apple’s board.

When Google launched Android on Mobile phones, Steve Jobs viewed it as pure treachery and called it a form of “grand theft” and vehemently declared a “thermonuclear war” against his former friends. Just how thermonuclear was evident when in one simple iOS upgrade Apple hit Google in multiple areas. And each is a bludgeoning blow that severely affects Google.

Reach into this wallet: Apple’s Passbook service is gunning for Google in its financial apps and services area

Twist of Knife 1

Google Maps, the main foundation of the great partnership between the two giants, has been kicked right off iOS. This critical piece of software has resided on the iPhone since the device’s 2007 debut. It was such a big deal that Eric Schmidt had appeared on stage with Jobs to announce this amazing partnership to the world. And now it’s gone, over and very kaput!

This is a serious blow to Google as it stands to lose massive advertising revenue from every Apple Google Maps user and also loses out on its favourite pastime – tracking people and pinpointing their whereabouts. Apple will release its own homegrown mapping app and has thrown in some great features (Siri Integration, Turn by Turn Voice directions) as well as a lot of eye candy visual effects (Vector-based, 3D and Flyovers) to go with it.

Knife Stroke Damage – Massive:

Google will have to do something extraordinary to make people go through the effort of downloading and installing Google Maps as a separate app.

Twist of Knife 2
Facebook has about 930 million users. Google+ has about 180 million. For Google, its social platform Google+ is a huge priority and the only way to do it is through fantastic mobile phone integration. Just when Google+ was gaining some momentum, Apple has struck with blow number two.

It’s built deep integration of Facebook into iOS 6. You put in your Facebook details just once and almost every app then becomes Facebook-enabled. You can update statuses and post on Facebook by talking to your phone – including posting photos with voice commands. With such tight, seamless and fun ways of Facebook being embedded deep in iOS – it leaves almost no incentive for any iPhone or iPad users to even think of going to Google+. And that’s a lot of people for Google to lose out on.

Knife Stroke Damage – Massive :
Google+ needs to hit a minimum of 400 million users for it to become a serious alternative to Facebook. Reaching this number could be a huge problem now.

Twist of Knife 3
Apple has come out with more than 200 new features within iOS6. Most of them seem to have their sights trained on specific Android features. Reply with Message, a second-generation upgrade to Siri, Do Not Disturb with customised exceptions, Facetime that now works on your cellular network (not just on Wi-Fi), Safari browsing with a read later (Reading Lists) feature as well as amazing Siri integration, Photo Streams now with group sharing and notifications, VIP feature in the Email app as well as the all-new Guided Access System. This is a treasure chest of new features and each seems to have a single purpose – hit Android fast and hard.

All new features: All the big ones from iOS 6 – Apple Maps, Siri-updated, Passbook and Facebook integration

Knife Stroke Damage – Minimum:

Android ICS 4.0 still has quite a few tricks up its sleeves that haven’t been touched by iOS. Plus the next version of Android is just days away.

Twist of Knife 4
In almost perfect synch with some of Google’s new and very expensive acquisitions, Apple has come out with services that try and nullify them. Once again, integration with business review service Yelp Inc. and online restaurant reservation service OpenTable Inc. have been built into iOS6. There really is no other reason to do this than to compete against Zagat, a review service that does almost the same things and was bought by Google for $151 million. Then there’s the all new Passbook service from Apple that is all-out gunning to hit Google in its financial apps and services area including Google Wallet.

Knife Stroke Damage – Medium: It’s usually tough for a start-up to hurt a stalwart, but with the huge iOS base that may take to it – this could happen.
It almost seems like the first idea meeting at Apple headquarters for iOS6 must have been called “let’s come up with an iOS upgrade solely to hit Android in that place where it hurts the most”. This is a rivalry that is now taking things deep into the enemy camp with a “take no prisoners” strategy.

I have a feeling Steve Jobs must have been smiling somewhere up there by the time WWDC got over. When he had said this was going to be a thermonuclear war – he wasn’t joking.

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter

From HT Brunch, June 17

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First Published: Jun 15, 2012 11:12 IST