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[Discuss] [OT] Apple is the AOL of consumer electronics

On Aug 7, 2011, at 3:44 PM, Tom Metro wrote:
> I had the thought that Apple is the AOL of consumer electronics. Sure
> enough, not an original thought. Google finds, "Apple is the new AOL
> because of iPad, which offers a safe, easy way to consume content
> without venturing out onto the vast Information Superhighway."[1] (And
> deeper analysis in the latter half of this blog posting[2].)

Apple isn't the new AOL although it is easy to make that comparison.  The logic is deeply flawed, however, just as comparing Apple to Microsoft is flawed.  Apple is neither hardware vendor nor software vendor, nor is it a service vendor despite selling hardware, software and services.  Apple is, as I've pointed out several times in the past, a user experience vendor.  It sells The Apple Experience.  The hardware, software and services are the packing used to deliver that experience.

Apple has no serious competition at this time.  Google and Microsoft are the most obvious contenders but neither are actually competing with Apple on the same field.  Google is a services company and Microsoft is a software company.  That said, Microsoft has started to figure it out.  First with the hiring of dedicated UI people to work on Vista and Windows 7 and to further refine that work in Windows 8.  Second with the genuinely cross-platform Windows 8 with its single developer path for multiple devices.  This last is going to be very painful for both Microsoft and .NET developers alike but it needs to happen.  Apple went through something similar twice in recent years, with the transition from OS 9 to OS X and then the transition from PowerPC to Intel.

Google isn't even trying to compete with Apple.  You can see it in the applications.  The most obvious thing about OS X applications is that they all look and act consistently.  The same goes for iOS applications.  I haven't seen any two different Google applications or services that do that.  Google Mail and Google Reader should be practically indistinguishable from each other, but they're not.  Google+ looks and acts like yet another completely different code base.  And that's not even looking at the "diversity" in Google's own Android applications.  It is, quite frankly, an unholy mess.

Not that everything is rosy for Apple.  While The Steve has a 10-year head start over Microsoft in the experience department, Google is at least 5 years ahead of Apple in on-line services, and it shows.  OS X Lion has been called the big step in the convergence of OS X and iOS.  It is this, but this isn't the biggest change.  Lion marks the shift from Macintosh as the digital hub, the core of Apple's strategy for the last decade, to the cloud, where Google and Amazon excel.

At the end, it is not a matter of picking a side.  It is a matter of picking hardware-software-service or user experience.

--Rich P.

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