Google announced recently that it has improved its mobile search service to allow users to find applications both online and in mobile application stores. As expected, users will be able to find apps in Android’s Market from within search. But they will also be able to find applications in Apple’s App Store, making it a useful application for those who don’t want to use the built-in search in those stores.
For its part, Google is being careful to give users the option of finding apps within search without pushing them in one direction or another. It’s a smart move. It also shows how powerful Google has become.
Google is arguably the only company that has the ability to overcome Apple. As this latest move has shown, the company can work its way into some of Apple’s core operations and attract customers. Admittedly, an improvement to search likely won’t be enough to take Apple down.
As time goes on, the chances of Google dominating Apple will be slim, given the success the hardware company has achieved over the past few years. But overtaking Apple as the top tech company is a long-term campaign. This has nothing to do with ruining Apple, only replacing it as the de facto leader in the industry. It’s something that no other company but Google can do. This is how it can happen:
1. Google appeals to consumers
Like Apple, Google does a fine job of appealing to consumers. That’s an important element in its ability to compete with Apple and potentially overtake the hardware company at some point in the future. For years, Apple’s key selling point has been its appeal to consumers. Without it, the company wouldn’t have been nearly as popular as it is today. Meanwhile, other companies, such as Microsoft, simply don’t have that same appeal. And that will only hurt its chances of coming close to supplanting Apple as the dominant company in the tech business. Thanks to consumers, Google is the only company that can do it.
2. Google knows how to innovate
Google understands the value of innovation. The vast majority of other firms in the industry simply don’t. Rather than sit back and follow the lead of its competitors, Google, like Apple, has gone out and found ways to innovate beyond what’s already available. That was especially true with its search-and-advertising efforts, but it’s quickly becoming clear that it wants to do the same in the mobile business, in the operating system market and in the living room. Going forward, as long as Google continues to strive for innovation, it will have a better chance of overcoming Apple.
3. Apple is huge
One of the main reasons why no other company can overtake Apple in the tech industry is its size. With Steve Jobs presiding over Apple, the hardware company has become more valuable than Microsoft. That significantly bolsters its standing as the leader in the market. After all, with more than $40 billion in cash on hand and no other major competitor that has both its size and vision, Apple can rest easy knowing there is little chance of it being supplanted as the top company in the industry. Except, that is, if Google can get its act together. The search giant is extremely big, and it’s starting to see the value of innovation. If it can continue, it might give Apple something to worry about.
4. Microsoft won’t cut it
Microsoft might be a hugely successful company that continues to do well each quarter, but its influence in the industry is slowly diminishing. Years ago, there was little debating which company was the biggest and most important in the tech space. Today, all that has changed. Microsoft has failed to innovate, it doesn’t have a vision, and all the while its financial success has diminished over time. A few years ago, Microsoft might have been a real threat to Apple, but as the hardware company has shifted away from computers, it has left Microsoft far behind.
Google Keeps Its Eye on the Prize
5. The market is changing in Google’s favor
There is one place where Apple has failed to adequately see the future: the Web. So far, Steve Jobs and Company have focused heavily on hardware and the mobile industries. Given its success, it was the right move. But by doing so, Apple has lost sight of the next frontier in the tech industry. Google hasn’t. The search giant is ready to invite more consumers and companies to the Internet. It not only has all the services ready to go, it also has Chrome OS, the operating system it needs to introduce folks to the cloud. Google’s Trojan horse could be Apple’s Achilles’ heel.
6. Steve Jobs won’t be at Apple forever
A quick glimpse at Apple’s history reveals one important fact: Apple needs Steve Jobs. For the foreseeable future, Jobs will remain at Apple and lead his company. But a time will come when he needs to leave Apple. And when that happens, it might be the opening Google will need to take charge of the industry. It won’t happen overnight, since Jobs is smart enough to have plans well into the future. But once his influence is gone, Google can step in and supplant Apple as the top tech company in the industry. Given Jobs’ recent health issues, it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that he leaves Apple sooner than some might think.
7. The right strategy is in place
Google has the right strategy in place to take over the tech industry from Apple. Not only has it cornered the search market-a key battleground going into the next decade-the company has also revealed itself as the go-to advertising firm on the Web. That alone should help it eventually surpass Apple. But it goes beyond that. Google is also positioning its Android OS as a fine mobile alternative to iPhone iOS. Plus, the company is branching out into other areas, such as building a fiber network, to expand its operation even further. Google isn’t just a search company anymore.
8. Mac OS X is a big question mark
Mac OS X could be a problem for Apple going forward. Although the software is beloved among designers and those that want to get away from Windows, it still holds a small portion of the operating system market. And now that Google is preparing to release a Web-based operating system, it might only be a matter of time before Apple’s lack of focus on Mac OS X catches up to it. That said, computers are still a key component in what Apple brings to the consumer’s table. It just needs to realize that if it’s not careful, Google will pass it by.
9. Android is a force
Android OS is arguably the biggest threat to Apple right now. A recent NPD report found that more consumers bought Android-based phones in the first quarter of 2010 than iPhones. Granted, Apple is only offering a single device, while Google’s operating system is running on multiple phones. But it effectively highlights that Google is starting to gain traction in the single market where Apple has tied much of its future. If Google can continue to perform well, things could get worse for Apple. And it could eventually lose its standing as the top tech company to Google.
10. Touch isn’t everything
Although Apple has made multitouch functionality a key component in its business plan, it’s important for the company to know that, as Google has shown, touch isn’t everything. To stay atop the tech industry over the next 10 years, Apple needs to branch out beyond iPhone iOS and find a way to stay ahead of the curve in more areas than the mobile sector. At the same time, it can’t be everything to everyone. It should determine its core competencies, find out where it can make an impact and focus its efforts there. Let Google be the company that does it all. If Apple focuses too much of its time on multitouch and not enough on other businesses, the company could be in for a rude awakening when Google supplants it as the top tech company in the industry and never looks back.