It seems that with every mid-year tech product announcement, the battle lines become even more drawn out and GigaOm reckons it’s starting to look a lot like Google vs The World. Now that the Glass fanfare is starting to die down it’s plain to see that Google isn’t the only company that has quite a few battlefronts, against formidable foes, to cover. Let’s discuss a few:
1. The platform war
Android vs iOS; and to a smaller degree vs Blackberry OS 10 and Microsoft OS vs Chrome OS. iOS users spend more money on apps and in-app purchases; and online developers are finding that developing for the iOS platform is more lucrative than developing for Android. Fab.com is getting more than one-third of its visits come from mobile, and of that 95% is from iOS and only 5% from Android. RIM is dying, and the smart money is on Microsoft to buy the flailing Nokia to keeps its Windows mobile OS alive — Surface isn’t going to be enough.
2. The tablet war
Nexus 7 vs iPad vs Samsung vs Microsoft Surface. Let’s face it, Android has some way to go to dethrone the iPad from being the ultimate tablet. The idea though, behind the Nexus 7 tablet is to show the market what a cheaper competitive tablet looks like and it’s priced at $199 for the 8GB model and US$249 for the 16GB model.
The Kindle Fire, the best-selling tablet running Android, is going for US$200 but has been marred by its lack of camera and slow performance; and its sales have already begun to drop off. Apple did it right by building the hardware that runs with the software and now that Google’s done it with Nexus 7, one feels the playing field is starting to level out. Not to be outdone, Microsoft is also clambering for “tap-top” votes by pushing Surface.
3. The TV war
Google’s Nexus Q is aimed at taking on Apple’s TV but at three times the price, it’s not economically viable. The route to winning the TV war is not going to be via a set-top box, in fact, as we become multi-screen consumers, I doubt it’s going to be via an actual TV either. The battleground is going to be where users gather their content and so far iTunes users listen to more music, buy more content and create more revenue than Google Play users.
4. Cloud war
Google Drive (including Locker, Docs, Picasa) vs Dropbox vs Apple’s cloud products vs Microsoft Skydrive. Online storage of data is the new technology frontier: our children are going to reminisce about hard drives the same way we reminisce about 1’44 “stiffy” disks. They will wonder why we ever stored our data on our devices especially when they access their online storage bank for all of their media.
5. Wallet war
Google Wallet vs PayPal vs Square vs Apple’s Passbook. The buzz words here are: Near Field Communication Technology. Google’s using it in all of its new mobile devices, including the Nexus 7, and over 300 NFC terminals are being used in conjunction with the Samsung Galaxy S3 at the Olympics this year. iTunes reportedly has over 400-million credit cards on file and if Apple can find a way to make purchasing beyond apps, music and games possible, it’s onto something massive.
This kind of all-encompassing multi-player tech war has varied outcomes for the consumer: as many companies fight on many fronts it’s hard to imagine one company having the human firepower to come out on top of all of them. Empires that fight on multiple fronts fail and it’s worrying to note that all of the big tech players are fighting on multiple fronts, making them jacks of all trade and masters of none.