Almost close to a decade ago, at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, Steve Jobs took the mobile handset device world by storm with the launch of the iPhone, a device that combined three products – a mobile phone, a widescreen iPod with touch controls and an internet communications device. That after various iterations is now the iPhone7 that was launched early this September.
But, despite accounting for almost 16% – 225 million of the 1.4 billion smartphones shipped globally – of the worldwide smartphone sales in 2015, tricky times could be ahead for Apple. It has seen sales of the iPhone falling from 183.16 million devices in the first three quarters of 2015 to166.38 million in 2016. Revenues from iPhone sales too fell from $122.8 billion in 2015 to $ 108.5 in 2016 over the same period.
While that is an internal issue, things could get tricky for Apple with the launch of the Google Pixel. The reasons are not hard to find. For starters, the $ 75 billion Google has managed to achieve something that only Apple has till now done – integrating devices and software to build a powerful ecosystem. Samsung which developed the OS Tizen has not been able to ensure that it is an integral part of devices.
The commonalities with Apple are just too many. While the Apple OS – iOS – is a walled garden, the Google OS – Android is open source. Among the biggest users of the Android OS is Samsung, the world’s single largest smartphone vendor. Apple also changed the smartphone paradigm by introducing apps through its App Store. Google has the Play Store which has Android versions of all apps. Also, since the Android user base is much higher, no app developer can ignore it. While having many apps is good, it ended up eating real estate on the mobile device. Apple solved that to a large extent by allowing users to tap into the iCloud. Google has done just that. It is offering Pixel users unlimited cloud storage for full-resolution photos and video.
With the world going in for artificial intelligence (AI), iPhone has the voice-activated Siri, while Google has the Assistant. Very soon, Indian users will be able to use the Hindi version of the Assistant. While the commonalities end here, the advantage that Google has is that it can tap into its parent Alphabet that has multiple projects going. This includes connected cars, connected homes and Nest. What that means is that over the next 10 years, the car that drives you – as opposed to you driving the car – will be powered by software, and be powered by renewable energy.
The stakes are quite high for both. But, it’s a battle that could lead to making life a lot more easier for a lot of people.