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Apple vs. Google, Who Will Control the iPhone? 213

Pieroxy writes "Theiphoneblog carries a nice article on the reason Apple rejected the Google Voice application even though it doesn't violate any terms and services. The article goes in depth over the issue of controlling the hardware (Apple) vs. controlling the software (Google & Apple so far) and how Apple doesn't want Google to take over a critical part of its phone. Just like Google is going into the OS business to make sure it never gets cut out, Apple is also building a huge data center to — they guess — take over some online cloud computing business of their own and be less dependent on Google for these services."
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Apple vs. Google, Who Will Control the iPhone?

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  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:47AM (#29172471) Homepage

    Probably at the end of the day it will be some 17 year old hardware hacking genius from Croatia.

    The skills and resources of the hardware hacking community is far out-stepping the biggest corporations. I'm surprised at their resourcefulness every day when I read about a new hack.

  • by master_p ( 608214 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:50AM (#29172519)

    This is very important for the industry. It proves, once more, that software is more important than hardware.

    It also proves that Apple follows a wrong path selling hardware. It has some nice software in its hands, and it could become an alternative to Microsoft/Google if they wanted to.

    Now Google comes and stills their business - if users are accustomed to Google services, they could be tempted to buy an Android-based phone in the future, since the services would be similar to the ones they were used to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:50AM (#29172523)

    I know who should control it, the user.

  • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:55AM (#29172577) Homepage

    These articles crop up pretty much daily on various blogs. They all follow a very clear pattern:

    1. Pick a hot IT company.
    2. Pick a service they're not providing.
    3. Pick something that they're spending money on.
    4. Relate points 2 and 3.

    There's no evidence that the two things are related. For all we know Apple might be getting back into selling time-slices on servers because Steve Jobs has hit his head and thinks it's 1983 again. These sorts of poorly researched, uninsightful articles that are absolutely nothing more than *a guess* are completely pointless.

  • by kdogg73 ( 771674 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:58AM (#29172597) Homepage

    Are cars more important than the quality of the roads they drive on?

    I can see myself taking either side of this argument depending on the situation. Without quality hardware, you'll never get to this quality software. This goes beyond the box, as you must consider the infrastructure that connects us all. Quality hardware and software will work in tandem.

  • by readthemall ( 1531267 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:05AM (#29172673)
    And if you don't want to pay Apple or Google for such 'services', you can stick to the traditional model where one can choose among hundreds of phone models and use them with several providers. Just like we have several big photo camera manufacturers, and a few more independent lens manufacturers.

    A phone is just a phone and we don't need it to become another computer platform to be monopolized. Stop selling me services, please, I only need a phone (that is, hardware).

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:09AM (#29172715)

    Yeah, cause hacking something developed by talented engineers from scratch takes so much more talent.

  • by Pieroxy ( 222434 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:13AM (#29172741) Homepage

    With Apple, it is very doubtful that the users will have a say. Jobs is the ultimate end-user of Apple products and will dictate his views no matter what.

  • by IBBoard ( 1128019 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:17AM (#29172779) Homepage

    That's just crazy talk. How can you possible expect a mere user to control something like hardware? We, the hardware and proprietary OS manufacturers, together with our good friends at the RIAA know exactly what should and shouldn't be done with our hardware. Users sometimes whine about not being able to do something, but that's just because they are confused and don't really need to do it. We know best, and we know what they need. If you think we're wrong, email suckered-for-millions-in-license-fees@big-hardware-vendors.con

  • by Qubit ( 100461 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:26AM (#29172889) Homepage Journal

    Mod parent up!

    Name one large company that you'd trust to hold the reigns to your personal computing devices. Just one.

    How about i-rootkit-you-Sony, or i-turn-you-in-Yahoo? Plays-for-only-a-limited-amount-of-time-for-sure-Microsoft?

    Large companies by necessity will bow to government pressures. Large companies by necessity (and legal duty) will listen to the demands of their stockholders. The users are several steps down on the list.

  • by shreshtha ( 1609099 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:28AM (#29172915)
    To feel apple you have to live in apple's world. I can foresee the future when you have to install a Apple(r) Software and logon to it to charge the battery of Apple gadget from any computer other than the registered ones. Its up to their discretion to allow the Apple Gadget to get charged from a non Mac Computer. Software Barricade.
  • Obvious answer (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Em Emalb ( 452530 ) < minus poet> on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:29AM (#29172923) Homepage Journal

    AT&T (for now, in the US)

  • Its phone? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by houghi ( 78078 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:29AM (#29172925)

    Apple doesn't want Google to take over a critical part of its phone.

    Uh, I thought it was MY phone and I bloody well should be able to decide who takes over and how they do it. If the provider is not happy with what I send over it, that is another matter, because I RENT that. I BOUGHT the phone.

    Have people become so ignorant that there is no difference in buying and renting anymore?

    It is actually pretty simple. If you SELL something, the other person becomes the owner and it isn't YOURS anymore. Perhaps they should make a version of "mine" and "yours" like this: []

  • by Rob the Bold ( 788862 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:32AM (#29172947)

    Actually yes. MythTV kicks the utter crap out of any other PVR ever made.

    The MythTV developers are at least 800% more talented than ALL of the TiVo dev team combined.

    do you not understand how 3000 developers are better than 10? did you not pass basic math in high school?

    I'm not bagging on the Myth guys at all -- they've done a great job. But I know from experience that creating the second new something is much easier than the first. This is the "First Waffle Theory". This theory works especially well if you can get someone else to make that first one.

  • by 99BottlesOfBeerInMyF ( 813746 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:39AM (#29173031)

    How does having iPhone users receive calls via their Google Voice number affect the iPhone overall at all?

    Apple walked into this market out of the blue and to get anywhere they had to make serious concessions to AT&T. Right now, Apple is getting ready to renegotiate, this time from a position of strength. Apple gets hardware sales from the iPhone and a strategic influence that can help their other products. So what do they have to offer phone companies in order to make the iPhone more functional and thus sell more handsets? Basically, they're offering to bring in new customers and get those customers to pay for services. Every service that is not used by iPhone users, weakens Apple's pitch to cellular phone service providers. So enabling users to bypass AT&T's SMS and thus AT&T's SMS revenue, may sell more iPhones to end users, but also makes AT&T and others less interested in selling iPhones and less likely to make concessions to Apple to get that to happen. Before the iPhone was a success all Apple had was promises and the offer of an exclusive deal where users would be banned from bypassing certain moneymaking services of the cell service provider. Even offering to cut out all other providers they had a hard time getting anyone on board willing to make a good package deal for service given that it needed network tweaks to make it work as nicely as Apple wanted.

  • by MobyDisk ( 75490 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:43AM (#29173091) Homepage

    This cannot be understated. The computer industry experienced exponential growth once it became open. It all started the day Compaq produced the first IBM PC clone. That day will only come for phones/PDAs when people can use any phone, with software from any company or individual, with any telephone service provider.

    We need to treat phone technology openly, just like...well... almost every other piece of hardware on earth (TVs, CD players, vacuum cleaners, hammers, baseballs, ...)

  • Re:Its phone? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by mckinleyn ( 1288586 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:46AM (#29173123)
    Technically, it IS your phone to go jailbreak and do whatever the hell you want with. Even write your own app for Google Talk if you want it. Or you can make disgusted comments about the software the company chooses to provide. Either way, have fun.
  • by bay43270 ( 267213 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:59AM (#29173279) Homepage

    It also proves that Apple follows a wrong path selling hardware. It has some nice software in its hands, and it could become an alternative to Microsoft/Google if they wanted to.

    How does it prove that? Apple is in the business of making money. Right now their making more than almost any software company (with one major exception) and many of their hardware competitors. While I wish they would behave a little different for my personal benefit, you can't pretend they aren't doing what's in their best interest.

  • by Sockatume ( 732728 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:05AM (#29173341)

    The "holy shit" part of the iPhone is the OS, though. The original hardware was merely adequate, and only barely for anyone who didn't live in a nest of wi-fi hotspots. Yet it was enough to sell the OS to people.

    To release the One True Google Phone would undo the platform's great advantage. If someone walks into a phone store and wants something that's like an iPhone, but kind of different, probably half of the alternatives are going to be Android handsets.

  • by KnownIssues ( 1612961 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:07AM (#29173373)
    With Apple, users do have a say... with their wallets. And users will continue to pay money to Apple because Apple continues to make products that do what those users want better than the alternatives (Microsoft, *nix, etc). So Apple will continue to dictate what can be done on/with their platform.
  • Re:Its phone? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Twinbee ( 767046 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:18AM (#29173487) Homepage

    Here we go again... uhhh, as much as I think Apple is evil for doing this, and as much as I agree that they should allow any and all software on the phone, your argument about it being allowed to do these things and equating that to being 'yours' is a bit odd.

    For example, if standard PC software is restricted (misses a useful feature) because the developer wants you to pay a little more for the full price version with the feature enabled, you still 'own' both software, it's just that one is more restricted than the other - it doesn't make either version any less 'yours'.

    To summarize, it being 'yours' has little bearing on how functional the phone is or how functional it should be.

  • by vertinox ( 846076 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:29AM (#29173615)

    AAPL/GOOG are publicly traded companies and as such their only obligation is to make a profit for their stockholders

    No. Publicly traded companies are only obligated to obey the votes of their shareholders which in some cases is contrary to making a profit.

    In that regard both AAPL and GOOG have a small set of people controlling the votes so they can choose how to operate.

    Of course most public companies are about the whole profit only thing simply because that is what their shareholders want.

    In that regard, APPL, GOOG, and MSFT can basically blow through millions in R&D and short term unprofitable ventures (like the fact Xbox lost them money and not until the Xbox 360 did they get money back... what was that 5 years?) and the shareholders can't get rid of the CEO.

  • by suzerain ( 245705 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:37AM (#29173709) Homepage

    I agree with your second point, actually, and that may well be something that concerns Apple. But I disagree with the assertion in the second paragraph: Apple likes to control the software on its devices, because...they really aren't a hardware company. If they were, they'd have been dead long ago.

    Apple's always been a 'solutions' company; that's what they sell. The iPhone is not the flash memory and processor and screen; it's a package, where they fairly seamlessly combined software and hardware together into a complete whole.

    I didn't buy my MacBook Pro because it has a 2.8 Ghz Intel processor and blah blah...all laptops on the market are essentially the same. I bought it because it runs OS X well, without hackery, and is generally well made. I don't necessarily use all of them, but iTunes, iMovie, iDVD, iWork, and so on are all very nice pieces of software in their own ways, but Apple doesn't try to profit hugely directly from them.

    So the point is: Apple's always been part (and maybe mostly) software company; the difference between them and Microsoft (in most markets) is that Apple just uses the software to sell hardware, whereas Microsoft's empire was all about the software sales itself. So, I can see why Apple's threatened by Google (though as an Apple consumer, I wish they'd get over it and compete instead of trying to block everyone that's outdoing them).

  • by Duradin ( 1261418 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:41AM (#29173771)

    The customer is always right.

    (Which proves that I will never have access to a time machine capable of going back in time far enough to off the twit that first said that or that event will only occur in an alternate timeline leaving this one to suffer, for eternity, the pain and suffering caused by that statement.)

    If the customer wants something that will put you out of business you shouldn't have to give that to them. Someone else can provide it, but you shouldn't have to commit financial suicide. There's nothing stopping google from making their own phone that runs google voice natively.

  • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:51AM (#29173885) Homepage

    That doesn't follow. Just because you CAN compete with someone else on a level playing field doesn't mean you want too. If you and I were dueling to the death with pistols, and I know that I am slightly better than you and thus likely to win, should I refuse to allow a further handicap of your abilities just because I'm pretty sure I can win anyway? If I were an honorable man, or a man wishing to appear honorable for some person in the audience, I might indeed refuse to allow you to be further handicapped. Companies have no such honor. Companies take any advantage they can get, even if they already have other advantages.

    Generally speaking, the court of public opinion seems to think that Apple makes one of the best smart-phones on the market right now. It's extremely popular and selling more units daily. Google has had considerably more limited success with Android. This hardly means that Apple is going to let Google find new advantages to catch up if they can help it. By preference they want to keep their dominance, and do so with the least possible effort on their part.

  • It also proves that Apple follows a wrong path selling hardware. It has some nice software in its hands, and it could become an alternative to Microsoft/Google if they wanted to.

    Now, where to start with this...

    I don't really use either Apple or Microsoft (my iBook gathers dust and my Windows partition is there for games) but I don't really hate either even though it seems to be fashionable, especially with Ms).

    Microsoft and Google really can't be lumped together. The Venn diagrams for their areas of operation don't intersect that much. They do compete for mindshare though.

    Microsoft makes :

    • operating systems
    • corporate software
    • home software
    • "communication" software (including corporate groupware, but also personal "sharing stuff", and "chatting online" apps")
    • online presence apps
    • a search engine with maps
    • development frameworks
    • computer peripherals (made by others of course)
    • fud

    Google makes :

    • a search engine, search and indexing tools with maps
    • online applications (simple office apps, reasonably complete email)
    • libraries (often web oriented)
    • an advertising marketplace and framework
    • a number of (mostly free) applications
    • large scale online presence and community web sites that are free or low cost
    • dubious deals

    Apple makes :

    • marketing
    • design (designed in California !)
    • hardware (that's apparently quite good past 1.0)
    • software (completely closed apart from the bottom-most layer)

    Granted, Apple *could* just sell its system openly for any intel system (meaning anything that has an x86 instruction set or x86_64). And then what ?

    Then Apple would end up where Linux or BSD is. With way less people to fix it. Currently, you certainly can run Mac OS on pretty much any x86 system. You'll probably have lots of fun finding drivers for your stuff if my experience with my Mac is anything to go by but I'm sure that for the most part it'll run.

    And then what ? Do you think there's money in selling CDs with 0s and 1s on them ?

    Apple makes money moving boxes (mostly small boxes with little music players in them at the moment). Selling operating systems is the best way to kill a company. Ask Be Inc. At the time they were so far ahead of Apple (or of Microsoft for that matter) technologically (ok, Apple was 5 or 10 years behind at the time so it was quite easy) that it wasn't even funny. Of course nobody cared.
    Or look at NeXT when it tried to gulp a few lungfuls of air before going under when it was selling its system for generic PCs. That was under the direction of Jesus^H^H^H^H^HSteve Jobs BTW.

    You may be fond of Apple products, which is something you'll have to deal with on your own, and isn't a serious condition anyway, but it doesn't mean they are fit to take over the computing world. I'm glad it works for you and if it's important to you you'll probably be able to switch over a number of casual users.

    However, remember that if the best product at a given time took over the market, we'd have all run Amiga computers for quite a while. In any market, quality doesn't have a lot (if anything) to do with its success on the marketplace. There are *a lot* of factors in play. And currently, while the play field isn't as varied as it was in the 8 bit days, we're still lucky to have 3 fairly active players, none of which can ignore the others. This is a good thing for all involved. It probably would be beneficial to lower a bit the influence of the major player, but to remove any of them certainly would hurt the whole ecosystem.

  • by turbidostato ( 878842 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:54AM (#29173933)

    "Both Apple and Google ultimately work for the CUSTOMER."

    No, they don't. Both Apple and Google ultimately work for the CEO. I was going to say "...for the stakeholders" but even this is false nowadays as the recent economical crisis and the millionaire bail out clauses for their higher ranks demonstrates. The customer is not a high priority for any company but a nuisance at most.

    "If the customer wants such and such, then the customer should get such and such"

    Unless, of course, we can lock them in by other (and cheaper and more surer) means like closed data formats, or blatant FUD, or by passing abusing laws, or by making them wanting what we offer by means of marketing campaigns, or by making invisible our competitors so there's no apparent choice (or buying them out, or burying them in patent claims, or...).

    "allow me to quickly point out that the customer's dollars pay the stockholder's investment returns"

    What will be your next fairy tale? That the "invisible hand" regulates the market? It's quite a lot of time ago that stockholder's investment is not covered by the customers but by the trade market which may or may not be related to the commercial success of a company.

  • by arminw ( 717974 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @02:49PM (#29176159)

    ....If Apple's software were so much better ....

    Apple's main business has never been hardware or software, but integrated working devices that fulfill their function remarkably well, better than cobbled together hardware from one company and software from another. They have also allowed numerous third parties to make numerous accessories that interoperate with their products, as long as these accessories don't change the basic functionality of an Apple product. They want the basic functionality of the Macs, iPods, iPhones and other devices to remain distinctly Apple.

    They will allow third parties to add functionality to their products, but when third-party applications or add-ons affect the basic functionality reflecting Apple's design, they squelch that and have every right to do so. They objected to Google software, because rather than adding functionality, they claim the application takes over the basic function of their product in ways that they will not allow.

    Anybody who does not like the iPhone, has the option of buying numerous other devices that perform similar functions. Anybody who desperately wants the Google application can buy another phone and then be happy.

  • by Macrat ( 638047 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @06:47PM (#29179315)

    Nope, but let me help you out with perspective. The Inspiron 537 slim [] is entry-level at $269 including a DVD+/-RW, 2GB RAM, etc.

    But if you spec it with similar processor to the Mac mini the price starts at $664. (As stated at the same link.)

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"