Nov 7, 2011
The “thermonuclear war” quote that has been popularized since the release of the Steve Jobs biography (available on the Android Market!) has been fodder for many internet pundits (myself included) to comment on the feud between iOS and Andorid for success in the mobile market. Apple and Google have an interesting dynamic, though; Google makes a competing OS, but provides search and mapping services to Apple as well. One hypothesis is now floating around that maybe Apple’s “thermonuclear war” against Google is not the attempt to destroy Andorid, but to actually eliminate Google services in Apple’s OS. This isn’t entirely invalid, but it still seems largely bunk, especially when looked at through the eyes of Siri.
Apple is looking out for Apple. They want what’s best for their products and design philosophies more than they do to compete. They are willing to commit to vendor lock-in because it benefits them if people become attached to Apple services that will help push future Apple product adoption. iMessage, iCloud, Siri; Apple introduces services for their OS only because they want people to use their OS. Google introduces services because they want people to use their services on as many operating systems as possible.
Could they possibly pull Google services out of iOS entirely? Sure, but it seems unlikely, given that Google is still the number one search engine; pulling Google out of iOS would ding that, but it wouldn’t be a killer blow at all. Siri is not a search engine, after all – it utilizes the data from search engines and services like Yelp and Wolfram Alpha in order to provide users its data. The intelligence that Siri provides from its speech to text service is its benefit, not that it is a search engine.
If anything, Siri won’t be a major factor for a long time; it’s still in the novelty and testing phase with iPhone 4S users; there doesn’t seem to be anything keeping Siri off of earlier devices besides just Apple trying to sell more units of the iPhone 4S. If Apple added more Siri-compatible devices, then maybe it would be a threat, but right now, Siri isn’t a threat to Google’s search empire. In fact, given the 65.3% market share that Google commands, losing every single iOS device would be a hit, but a small one at best.
The rest of the article’s suggestions as to Apple’s “thermonuclear war” seem silly at best. iMessage to replace IM and email services? They use email addresses as a backbone, and are more clearly a replacement for text messaging services, not email. They provide the benefits of instant messaging in many ways, but it seems more like an MMS replacement than that. Apple replacing Google Maps eventually seems possible, especially if they bought mapping services; after all, Apple’s been implementing their own wirleess location services, supplanting Skyhook.
Apple is trying to compete with Android, and they want to win, I’m sure. But remember – Google is perfectly willing to both work with and against Apple, and I doubt that especially a post-Jobs Apple would be willing to ditch the biggest search engine on the planet just because of what ultimately amounted to bluster from a leader who was hardly known for his restraint. It was why Steve Jobs made Apple a success. But I doubt that one blustery quote is entirely guiding Apple against their biggest mobile OS competitor. They’re smarter than that.