10 Ways Google Can Defend Its Android Turf Against Apple iPhone

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-03-17

10 Ways Google Can Defend Its Android Turf Against Apple iPhone

The battle between Apple and Google continues to heat up. Recently, Tim Bray, a prominent former Sun Microsystems software developer, recently joined Google's Android mobile OS team. The new hire wasted no time publicly criticizing Apple's stance in the mobile world. Bray said he plans to use his new position to prove that Apple's strategy in the mobile market is all wrong. He believes that Apple is attempting to control the space and manage a "sterile" environment where developers can't truly express themselves through their applications.

Bray's comments join a growing number of contentious issues that have emerged lately between the two companies. Nowhere is that friction more evident than in the mobile market. Google has done a relatively fine job of mimicking what Apple has done, but Android is still far behind the iPhone. But that doesn't mean that it's willing to give up. And it certainly doesn't mean that it's willing to hold back. It seems clearer than ever that Google plans to defend its Android turf and show the world that its way might be the best way.

Here's how:

1. Talk freedom

One of the major issues facing Apple's App Store is its draconian policies. Apple has gone out of its way to remove anything and everything that might be even remotely considered offensive or suspect. It's understandable to some extent, since the company wants to maintain a particular image. But if Google wants to steal some market share from Google, the company can stick to Bray's rhetoric about freedom. It can coax developers to its side by making them aware that Google won't stifle their creative voice. And as Apple has shown, the better the apps, the better the sales.

2. Talk open

Google has hitched its future to open source. It's a smart strategy. Open-source software is quickly becoming an increasingly coveted solution in both the enterprise and consumer circles. It also underscores Google's desire to be viewed as the "good guy" in a market where the competition keeps everything closed off. Apple is one such company. If Google can make that an issue with the mainstream, it could capitalize heavily on the iPhone's closed-off software. Now it just needs to figure out how to do it.

3. Stick to software

Google has little desire to break into the hardware game in the mobile market. Even its Nexus One smartphone was built by HTC. Google has decided that it wants to take on Apple and solidify its position in the market by offering software to vendors, rather than hardware to a single carrier. That means more Android phones will hit store shelves. And it also means that there's even more competition for Apple to worry about.

4. Beat the iPhone where possible

Google knows that it can't necessarily compete with the iPhone on every level. Apple's device is well-built and well-protected, thanks to all the patent applications the company has filed. But wherever possible, Google needs to find ways to improve upon iPhone OS. Microsoft has done a fine job of it with Windows Phone 7 Series, but now it's Google's turn. The iPhone isn't a perfect device. Google needs to remember that.

Google Needs to Push Apple on Multiple Fronts


5. Use its cash

Google can use its cash to its advantage. One of the virtues of being Google is the ability to acquire just about any company it wants, as long as it doesn't violate antitrust regulations. Although Apple has boatloads of cash of its own, it can't match Google. That's a key advantage for the Web giant. Google can continue to use acquisitions as a way to best the iPhone. Its acquisition of ReMail was a good start, but it needs to do more.

6. Go to marketing

If there's any company in the tech industry that can match Apple's marketing, it's Google. The Web company has historically done a fine job at getting its message across to consumers. If Google really wants to hold its ground against Apple, it needs to start advertising. The company must make it clear to consumers and even enterprise customers that the iPhone is not without faults.

7. Get after Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs truly believes that everything Apple does and offers is superior in the market. Google can capitalize on that. Jobs is viewed as the hero of Apple and one of the saviors of the tech industry. If Google wants to be successful in the mobile space, it needs to beat Jobs. And it needs to show the world that not everything Apple's CEO does turns to gold.

8. Use the Web

If there's anything Google fully understands, it's the Internet. Why the company hasn't been using the Web more effectively is anyone's guess. Android needs to feature far more Web-based components than it does right now. There's a real opportunity for Google to set a new standard in mobile operating system design that Apple won't be able to easily match. If Google can get to work on integrating more Web properties into its OS, it will be a step ahead of the iPhone.

9. Leverage relationships with carriers

One of the problems with offering the iPhone exclusively to AT&T is that other carriers don't take kindly to it. Google will continue to use that to its advantage. Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile are likely not too fond of Apple. At the same time, they want to capitalize on the burgeoning touch-screen-phone market. That's most easily achieved by working with Google. The more Google leverages those relationships, the more it can ensure that it will be a thorn in Apple's side for the foreseeable future.

10. Be Google

Perhaps most importantly, Google needs to remember to be itself. The search giant is one of the more respected organizations in the tech industry. It's also a household name that the mainstream trusts. In order for Google to defend its Android turf, the company needs to maintain its strategy of attempting to do what's right. Consumers have and will continue to respond to that. And if they see Apple as a closed-off behemoth, they might just defect to Google's shores.

If Google stays true to itself going forward, it can be successful against the iPhone.


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