Google, Apple And A Technological Moat

March 5th, 2013 | thinking

Originally written at the weekend for my newsletter.  Which fell into a spam abyss, so most people didn’t see it.

I get oddly annoyed at my phone.  I’ve been using smartphones since the 90s, and I am annoyed at how stupid it still is.  Which is a stupid thing to be annoyed about.  (Unless you, too, have been travelling outside your country of origin and didn’t have the time/energy to sort out a local SIM card with a data plan (possibly because you had an international plan in place that seemed to have inexplicably evaporated), and so spent a few weeks manually throttling your cellular so you didn’t rack up a £1000 bill.)

Nested parentheses.  I should quit while I’m ahead.  But I’m always bugged by how my phone seems never to be working hard enough.  I’ve just, finally, found a podcast app I like, Downcast, which does the thing I thought was bloody obvious: it automatically downloads podcasts itself, and syncs information between all my instances of the app (iPhone and iPad).  How was that hard?  Really?  I’m baffled — but fucking Apple couldn’t do it.  iTunes would never do it without a cable connection, and their Podcasts app isn’t fit for purpose.

I don’t think it’s arrogant or demanding, these days, to expect that a (yes okay I have disposable income) premium smartphone should bring me stuff (yes okay like a slave shush).  That said, I’m starting to get the sense that Android may do that job better.  In fact, in many respects, I’m getting the sense for the first time that I may have backed the wrong mobile-OS horse.  I am looking particularly at Google’s hires of late, and the appearance that they seem prepared to spend their money.  I wonder what happens when Google decide to look at TV interfaces, long expected to be an Apple focus going forward. 

What happens when Google’s field of interests do not directly intersect Apple’s as such, but simply surround them?  Cutting off the bridges of intent that Apple have been slow to lay, and putting a commercial moat of sorts around Apple?

I’d rather that than the technological equivalent of a coalition government, in which no risks are taken and no forward motion is achieved.


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