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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 AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @09:51AM (#29172527) Journal
    the MS of the phone era.
    Make the software and see an internet portal become the end user experience.
    Or they could just have a VOIP deal []
  • by mcwop ( 31034 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:00AM (#29172615) Homepage
    Daring Fireball had a good piece on this:
    Googleâ(TM)s dependence on hardware and carrier partners puts the final product out of their control â" and into the control of companies whose histories have shown them to be incompetent at design and hostile to users.
    Iâ(TM)d be happy to be proven wrong, but my hunch is that the only way weâ(TM)ll see an iPhone-caliber Android phone is if Google does what theyâ(TM)ve said theyâ(TM)re not going to do, which is to design and ship their own reference model âoegPhoneâ. That doesnâ(TM)t mean Android wonâ(TM)t still be successful in some sense if it remains on its current course, but that I donâ(TM)t expect it to be successful in the âoeholy shit is this awesome!â sense that the iPhone is. []
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:28AM (#29172907)

    Apple does not "control the software" with respect to their laptops and desktops as Google and other companies provide email clients, web browsers, IM, calanders, contacts, etc. which compete with Apple's offerings. Apple seems to be doing just fine here and no one is raising a fuss about it. I would have liked to seen a discussion as to why the authors feel that the iphone so different from Apple's other platforms.

  • by eldridgea ( 1249582 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:31AM (#29172937)
    Here's what they should do:

    Get with Google and make the iPhone completely run on Google Voice VoIP.

    Make it carrier-agnostic (duh) and make it data-only.

    The iPhone would become a data only device that would have VoIP built right into the device.

    It would work an any network and could even change networks with impunity.

    Also, it *should* be cheaper since you're not paying for tradition phone/voicemail/SMS.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:32AM (#29172953)

    YOU FAIL IT (it is sanitizing UTF8 quote marks)

  • by wandazulu ( 265281 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:40AM (#29173037)

    I would think a rising tide lifts all boats: Apple says it's a hardware company, so they produce the best hardware and the best interface to said hardware (OSX and the iPhone variant), period. Make the hardware absolutely bulletproof, a dream to program for, and sit back and let the $$$ roll in.

    If Google come up with software that allows me to make 60-way calls while also making toast and watering the garden, then there should be no reason for Apple to stop them; "we made the best hardware and the best interface to that hardware around. That's all we care about. Go for it!"

    In other words, why is there a problem in the first place? Does Apple really make enough additional money in its contracts with at&t et al to justify meddling in software developers' affairs? I own a Mac, I run OS X, and it gives me everything I want to start with. They've done their job, so now I can install the software I want to use to actually get things done, and go about my business. Why does it have to be different with the iPhone?

    I personally believe the app store is a great idea insofar as it's a single place to go for everything; it was a total nightmare to find JavaMe apps for my Razr and even worse trying to get them installed. That said, I also totally disagree with Apple's heavy-handed approach; if you don't want questionable apps, don't install them, and if they turn out to be not what they purported to be, then review them out of existence.

    In other words, leave me the hell alone to make my own damn choices about apps I want to run. Let Google write whatever they want; if it works for me I'll use it. If it doesn't, I won't. But let me choose for myself.

  • by jDeepbeep ( 913892 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:40AM (#29173047)

    In short, I don't think we've heard the real rationale

    My first thought on the matter is that Apple has something similar up it's sleeve (to GVoice) and hasn't brought it to market yet.

  • by The Second Horseman ( 121958 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:41AM (#29173059)

    Google is going to be the Wal-Mart of the industry - both on services (trying to get everyone to rely on them instead of having their own IT organizations) and on information (the ridiculous, likely-treaty-violating WGA deal, for example), etc. Relying on content from web sites to deliver ads, but then sharing little of the revenue, etc.

    They haven't figured out how to be a "good parasite" yet - but few have noticed, because they're just becoming big enough to kill the ecosystem they're relying on. Trust me - Google is Wal-Mart. And as much as I really don't care for Apple, they'd be smart to keep Google at arms length.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @10:41AM (#29173067) Homepage Journal

    I came here to say the very same thing. I've read several articles on the case now. (Oddly, I've not yet read TFA, LOL)

    Both Apple and Google ultimately work for the CUSTOMER. If the customer wants such and such, then the customer should get such and such - not what Jobs thinks is best for the customer, and not what Google thinks the customer wants. (Someone is going to pop off with the idea that Apple works for it's stockholders - allow me to quickly point out that the customer's dollars pay the stockholder's investment returns)

    In this particular case, I think that the customer wants what Google is offering. It should be made available, so that the customer can vote with his dollars. I don't have any Mac products, but I do get tired of reading about Mac acting like a martinette, telling the world what is acceptable on their phones and computers.

    Everyone should jailbreak their damned phones, and use them as they see fit. Everyone who paid for a phone has paid for that right.

  • The real reason (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Alzheimers ( 467217 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:29AM (#29173613)

    The real reason Apple doesn't want another VOIP app is that it would have the potential to turn the iPod Touch into a viable competitor to their own iPhone.

  • by Halotron1 ( 1604209 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:32AM (#29173657)

    Just strange that they let Yahoo control multiple features (Weather, stocks, search (you can opt for Yahoo instead of Google)) with no concerns for them taking over the device.
    Plus Yahoo has apps for Y! Messenger, Y! Music, and another app that brings in quite a few other services.

    Then on the phone technology, there's Fring which let you make calls through skype and bring in all your IM contacts, and TruPhone which I think also brings in skype and you can make soft phone calls over 3G.

    Seems like their decision was based more on the corporation they were competing with than the technology conflicting on the iPhone.

  • by tlhIngan ( 30335 ) <> on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:38AM (#29173731)

    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.

    Apple DOESN'T want to. They are in a nice spot right now - they can sell fewer product, but at higher margins than the rest of the industry. They don't care that their sales volume is smaller, or their marketshare is 1/10th of their competitor. Once you start lusting after more people, it becomes a race to the bottom. It's why Apple has no computer to compete against the low-end PCs, why the mid-range Apples don't have features enthusiasts want (i.e., expandability), etc. It gets harder to meet the needs of more diverse set of people, and marginal costs to support the next customer rise faster than revenue gained from those extra customers.

    The iPod is an irregularity, and while a money maker, you can tell Apple's not really liking having to sell a whole range of iPods - the line's pretty much stagnated except for the Touch. The only thing keeping them up there is that their competitors are equally stuck - unable to out-iPod the iPod.

    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.

    The cellphone industry already has seen this. 10 years ago, the cellphone population was nowhere near where it is now. Maybe 20 years ago if we include the rest of the world. Cellphones are everywhere. Nokia makes the vast majority of the phones sold, and thus, the vast majority of the phones sold can also run Java applets. There's very little growth left - those who want "a phone" have the low end (which is increasingly including stuff like cameras, mp3 players and such). Those who want an awesome email platform have the millions of Blackberry models out there. Those who want to surf the web have tons of phones that run WebKit. All Apple brought to the table was innovation - the only way to break into a crowded market. Even the iPhone's low marketshare makes Apple happy - they command a good chunk of industry revenues.

    And we won't see open hardware and open OS distributions anytime soon - phones are embedded devices and highly customized to their hardware. Take a look at DD-WRT for open hardware and open OS, and see how many different binaries you need to support all those routers. And that's just because they all are based off similar hardware designs, but still there's no "install this software package and it'll configure itself" distribution.

    As for the "any service provider" - we're already there. It's called GSM (or UMTS/LTE... 3GPP anyhow). Buy an unlocked phone. Buy a SIM card. Put latter into former. Make calls. Go to another country. Buy a new SIM card. Replace existing SIM. Make calls.

  • by Tanktalus ( 794810 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @11:45AM (#29173811) Journal

    Right track, wrong analogy.

    Which sells more cars? The latest and most bleeding edge engine, or the curves and colours of the body? The accuracy of the speedometer, or the layout of the dashboard? The effectiveness of the airbags, or the fact the seats are heated? The range on a single tank of gas, or the ipod interface to the radio?

    The fact is that though we really *should* care more about the former, society generally seems to care more about the latter. We assume the former works, so all advancement is assumed in the latter. We assume the basics (e.g., hardware) are all covered and are perfect, and it's only software that has the problems (or, in the car analogy above, the niceties and extras that are optional and thus distinguishing between vehicles).

    What Apple showed was that our old cell phone hardware could be shown as drastically out of date. What they're getting hurt by is the apps: everyone is just assuming their hardware now. Its value has been commoditised, even if the price tag hasn't been. Google, RIM, and any other competitors in this space are out to show that the hardware really is commodity. Google just has an interesting take on that tactic: by providing a user-interface that is phone-independant, they really are making the hardware commodity.

  • by bill_kress ( 99356 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @12:11PM (#29174165)

    Apple has ALWAYS followed the hardware path.

    When IBM tried to lock down their hardware and failed, Apple succeeded.

    IBM tried to regain control with the PS/2 using the same tricks apple did--but it failed for exactly that reason, most people rejected a single vendor system.

    If Apple were to try to replace Google's services, I'd probably ignore Apple's offerings (Ever notice that Apple tries to charge for every little thing? I have some icon in my toolbar that I can't get rid of that's linked to a pay apple service, why aren't they being sued for this--Microsoft sure would be!).

    If I couldn't replace them, I'd look at Android. I really like my Mac but at this point Google is much more important to me.

    (I was already called a Microsoft "Secret" marketing droid on /. once this year, going for Google now. After that I'll take on Mac for the trifecta)

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @12:13PM (#29174207) Homepage Journal

    Mythbuntu does everything but set up the cable provider zipcode.

    I wish. For one thing it sets up the permissions wrong. Another is that it either formats partitions if you didn't tell it to or it refuses to mount them if you didn't choose to format them. Then there's setting up the storage - I understand LVM but I have no idea what "storage groups" are even supposed to be? Directories? Something like logical volumes? To add insult to injury the default partitioning recipe puts your media where it will be lost if you upgrade. Everyone agrees this is wrong but it's been like that for a year and at least one major version.

    Mythbuntu is a big disappointment. I'm going to give Mythtv one last go as a separate install and then sod it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday August 24, 2009 @12:14PM (#29174219) I can answer that. Bling and shiny sell cars. Heck, I have sold cars where they never even looked at the engine or drove it, once I sold a car that had a dead engine but a very nice shiny body and decent non trashed interior (these were all used cars). After the sale agreement, and the customer didn't know it had a dead engine, he never asked to drive it, or I would have told him, I made the mechs go through their pile of stuff and build an engine. the customer just went over, looked at it sitting there and walked over to me and said "how much"? that was it, the total transaction. So he leaves, says he is coming back in the morning wih the check, I told the mechanics then they had to stay there as late as it took and get an engine built and installed because in the morning the dude was coming by to pick up the car. They did it, too. But that bling and shiny, it was the sharpest looking ride on the lot, did the sale. Now ME, I couldn't care less, I look for fluid leaks, the pattern of wear on the tires, the sound of it starting, all that stuff, check out everything mechanical before I even think about the bodywork or shiny-ness.

  • by Budenny ( 888916 ) on Monday August 24, 2009 @01:34PM (#29175197)

    Its a bet the company strategy, in a context in which its not clear that they need to bet the company. The bet is that they can tie together a monolithic offering, where people will buy into the whole thing because of the excellence of the individual bits. So you buy into iTunes, iPod, the store, the PC software, then that gets tied into the iPhone via the app store...and so on. They have been trying to do this for many years, e-world, running only on Macs, was an early example.

    This is one part of it, but it also has a flip side: the need to exclude apps. The problem is that you are trying to tie apps to hardware to services, to construct a closed little world that your customers never leave. But if they do leave? Then you lose the service revenue, or the app revenue, or the hardware revenue. So you end up with coercion in one way or another, and the immortal line, which probably really reflects what Cupertino has brainwashed itself into, the view that being able to run Google Voice on your iPhone - being able to, notice - detracts from the user experience. They probably really believe this stuff by now, they say it to each other every day, and they get their shills to post it all over the net.

    You see tje risk of course. If it comes about that there is a must have service (like maybe Google Voice, or something in the cloud) or a must have bit of hardware or a must have non-Apple peripheral, all of a sudden they are in the position of having the model break, or else being feature deficient. This is basically what happened to the other monoliths of the 80s and 90s of the last century.

    The puzzling thing is that the vast investments required to keep this thing going, whether in legal fees, in huge data centers, in new product and market entries, are very risky. You cannot afford to have one big loss. But one big loss is inevitable sooner or later. Meanwhile, there is an alternative almost totally risk free strategy, sit on your laurels and pay dividends, and gradually open up all the platforms, and try to maximize returns from each one individually.

    The difficulty is that there is a real tension here. The OS would sell far more free from the tie to the hardware. But the hardware would also sell far more freed from the tie to the OS. The same will happen with the app store as mobile apps develop. You'd have a more viable store if it sold apps for more phones, and you'd sell more iPhones if it would run more apps. Not yet, but that day will come. The same thing will happen with services. The only way, for instance, to make a success out of e-world was to have it run on any OS at all. The only way to make the Mac a success online was to have it support the ISP and online service of your choice.

    So this is what they are targeting, and what they are running headlong into. And it will end in tears. In a few years, but it will end in tears. As it did last time. Learning and repeating history.

  • by VJ42 ( 860241 ) * on Monday August 24, 2009 @03:19PM (#29176547)

    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.

    I can already do that here in the UK, I can buy any phone I like, with any Mobile provider; if I don't like the provider, I can just change the SIM and get my number ported. I've never had problems installing things on previous phones (mostly from Nokia) or my current Phone []. The only phone that tries to restrict what I can install on it is the iPhone, hence why I don't have one.

  • 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).

    I disagree. To a large extent, the phone stopped being interesting a few years ago, and increasingly the phone is simply a commodity that's built into your PDA/mobile computing platform. If you didn't want that, then you wouldn't need an iPhone or any other smart phone. You'd just be using a bargain free-with-plan phone.

    No, the vast majority of people buying iPhones are looking for a portable entertainment device with mapping, Web browsing, email and number of other critical features that have nothing to do with the fact that the device happens to have a phone built into it.

MESSAGE ACKNOWLEDGED -- The Pershing II missiles have been launched.