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Friday
Aug192011

Apple's Internet vs. Google's Web

With Apple's revelations regarding iCloud, the upcoming replacement to their often frustrating MobileMe service, the distinction between Apple's vision for the Internetworked world and Google's vision for a Web-based world is becoming clear.

Apple seems to have learned the challenges they faced with the performance of their MobileMe service and with iTunes and the Mac or PC centered tethering architecture for iOS devices. They have seen the challenges, and the shortcomings, what worked and what didn't work. They have taken what the market has shown them - what users want and how they use their iPhones and iPads, and balanced that against their vision for the future. Their vision for the Apple ecosystem is no longer tethered to a Mac or PC, but is evolving into a iCloud-centric ecosystem.

What is significant about iCloud is that it is not a web-based service accessed by users via a browser. What it is is an Internet- or cloud-based service, or constellation of services really, that is accessed by your devices, their operating systems and the applications that run on them. It is a resource your devices and applications use to enable them to provide to you the services you want and are coming to expect from your devices. This perhaps seems to be subtle distinction, but it is an important one. It is this distinction that differentiates Apple from companies like Google or the emerging web-based media and software & services companies who deliver their wares over the World Wide Web via your browser. This distinction becomes clearer when you consider how each of these companies makes money. Apple is, at bottom, a hardware company, and that's how they make their money, selling devices. So Apple is focused on producing the most beautiful, useful, intuitive innovative and "insanely cool" devices they can produce. Apple is focused on providing the best experience to their customers, the people who but their hardware.

Google, by contrast, makes their money selling advertising. Their is nothing wrong with this, it means I get lots of very useful stuff for free, paid for by Google's customers, their advertisers - no complaints from me there. The distinction here is that Google's customers are their advertisers, not consumers who use their services. This is where they still make most of their money. We, the consumers, are their product. Google is selling our attention to their customers, and they deliver us, primarily, over the World Wide Web. Hence, their motivation to keeping us in a web-based environment.

Apple, motivated to provide the best possible experience to their customers, the people who buy their products, us, the consumers. Truthfully, the best possible end-user experience is still provided by locally-running applications - more power and flexibility and less latency. But today these applications are increasingly network-aware. This software model has exploded since the introduction of the iPhone and the associated App Store. Apple and its developer community have learned a lot over the past few years developing IOS application for the iPhone and then for the iPad. These are locally running networked applications. A testament to their superiority to web-based application is the way they almost immediately supplanted the web-based application that preceded them on the iPhone platform. With the iPhone and iPad applications of today, you interact with the application and the application does what it needs to and gets what it needs from the network. You interact with the application, not the Web or the Internet, the application takes care of that for you.

With iCloud, Apple is bringing this model to the Mac and Mac applications. iCloud is a resource that Mac application will access in the same manner IOS application access network resources. It has proven to be a better model than the Browser-based applications model, and will provide a better overall user experience. iCloud will also release iPhones and iPads from the need to be synced to your computer for backup and updates, and iTunes data is moving up into iCloud to make it more easily accessible from all your devices. Apple is selling the best possible user experience and for today's mobile, multi-device users, with iCloud, Apple will again distinguish itself at the top of the class.

With Apple's revelations regarding iCloud, the upcoming replacement to their often frustrating MobileMe service, the distinction between Apple's vision for the Internetworked world and Google's vision for a Web-based world is becoming clear.

Apple seems to have learned the challenges they faced with the performance of their MobileMe service and with iTunes and the Mac or PC centered tethering architecture for iOS devices. They have seen the challenges, and the shortcomings, what worked and what didn't work. They have taken what the market has shown them - what users want and how they use their iPhones and iPads, and balanced that against their vision for the future. Their vision for the Apple ecosystem is no longer tethered to a Mac or PC, but is evolving into a iCloud-centric ecosystem.

What is significant about iCloud is that it is not a web-based service accessed by users via a browser. What it is is an Internet- or cloud-based service, or constellation of services really, that is accessed by your devices, their operating systems and the applications that run on them. It is a resource your devices and applications use to enable them to provide to you the services you want and are coming to expect from your devices. This perhaps seems to be subtle distinction, but it is an important one. It is this distinction that differentiates Apple from companies like Google or the emerging web-based media and software & services companies who deliver their wares over the World Wide Web via your browser. This distinction becomes clearer when you consider how each of these companies makes money. Apple is, at bottom, a hardware company, and that's how they make their money, selling devices. So Apple is focused on producing the most beautiful, useful, intuitive innovative and "insanely cool" devices they can produce. Apple is focused on providing the best experience to their customers, the people who but their hardware.

Google, by contrast, makes their money selling advertising. Their is nothing wrong with this, it means I get lots of very useful stuff for free, paid for by Google's customers, their advertisers - no complaints from me there. The distinction here is that Google's customers are their advertisers, not consumers who use their services. This is where they still make most of their money. We, the consumers, are their product. Google is selling our attention to their customers, and they deliver us, primarily, over the World Wide Web. Hence, their motivation to keeping us in a web-based environment.

Apple, motivated to provide the best possible experience to their customers, the people who buy their products, us, the consumers. Truthfully, the best possible end-user experience is still provided by locally-running applications - more power and flexibility and less latency. But today these applications are increasingly network-aware. This software model has exploded since the introduction of the iPhone and the associated App Store. Apple and its developer community have learned a lot over the past few years developing IOS application for the iPhone and then for the iPad. These are locally running networked applications. A testament to their superiority to web-based application is the way they almost immediately supplanted the web-based application that preceded them on the iPhone platform. With the iPhone and iPad applicatons of today, you interact with the application and the application does what it needs to and gets what it needs from the network. You interact with the application, not the Web or the Internet, the application takes care of that for you.

With iCloud, Apple is bringing this model to the Mac and Mac applications. iCloud is a resource that Mac application will access in the same manner IOS application access network resources. It has proven to be a better model than the Browser-based applications model, and will provide a better overall user experience. iCloud will also release iPhones and iPads from the need to be synced to your computer for backup and updates, and iTunes data is moving up into iCloud to make it more easily accessible from all your devices. Apple is selling the best possible user experience and for today's mobile, multi-device users, with iCloud, Apple will again distinguish itself at the top of the class.

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