The University of California, San Diego last week released some metrics describing our current information diet. The implications for mobility are enormous. The implications for various industries is already being witnessed. The successful companies in the future will control both the services and the device profiles in a more refined manner. My guess is that we are going to experience a tidal shift so quickly that most of the current players won’t even understand until it’s too late. Very simply, Apple and Google are set to dominate.
Google and Apple compete in other areas, like online distribution of music and video, Web browsers, and soon, computer operating systems. But it is in mobile phones that the two companies appear to be battling most aggressively. In recent weeks, Google has unveiled a string of cutting-edge services for smartphones that run Android. They included an application that gives turn-by-turn driving directions, which Google is giving away free. A comparable application from the satellite navigation company TomTom for the iPhone costs $99.
Apple does have a strategy between the mid-level and the high-end, but a true shift is possible with an assault on the low end. A web-capable device for the third-world that was essentially free and could access services via cell networks or Wi-Fi would be nothing short of earth shattering. In the US, such free devices would be incredibly popular, and with sales of Android devices still lagging the iPhone, priming the pump could promote a shift in developer thinking. Such an action could push Android to the top of the market almost overnight. It would also affect the future of the telecom market.
Attaining the market share necessary to make services useful is difficult at best, and nearly impossible even with capital. Google is in a unique position to change the landscape. A device like the Peek that ran Android and had a decent touch screen would be a game changer if it very simply accessed Google services. It would be revolutionary if it accessed the cell networks for free. As the article notes, Google is experiencing what Apple did with Motorola — a company that can make great products but is mired in a market where group think dominates.
Google’s actions speak very much to Apple’s choice of moving on without such a partner. They are much more of a threat to AT&T and the telecoms in general ensuring that their reception would be chilly. The market interpreted Apple’s move as revolutionary where it was simply evolutionary. I would bet money on Google having plans that could undermine the mobile industry from the core. Timing is the issue. We will see a free device from Google; it is only a matter of time. Competition for the high end is not the ball to watch.