By Aldo Panessidi
The rumor that Open Street Map will be replacing Google Maps as Apple’s default mapping application looks inevitable. Given the symbiotic relationship that Google and Apple have enjoyed for so long, you can’t help but speculate about what this means to the future of Google’s spirit of cooperation on the app front.
Google has always been willing to develop Apple-friendly app versions of their products, but now Apple appears to be invading Google territory with Open Street Map.
It looks like Google has a couple of ways to respond. They can take their apps and go home, or show Apple they ain’t seen nothing yet for iOS. Of course, as a third option, Google could keep letting Apple decide where their apps are welcome and where they are not. That just doesn’t sound like Google.
Here is some speculation (with a heavy dose of opinion) about how Google might be able to create a little independence from Apple and give Apple users Google alternatives.
Google might want to take this opportunity to develop its own third-party iOS-compatible map application. It would give them complete control over how their product is used and what goes into the iOS version. Google’s balancing act would be to provide a map app that Apple users want to use more than their parent’s version, and be just short of what they’d get with Android so they’d consider making the switch. Of course, Google has to walk the thin line of keeping Android users at home, too.
The opinion around here is that Google should show up Apple. Google would have more control over their maps app on the iOS platform, and not lose advertising dollars. Google should give its Android users an app that has better navigation than anything Apple’s loyalists can expect. Android losing users to iOS has been the trend for too long. It’s time to show Apple how good they really are at maps.
Google Drive is a strong competitor for Apple’s iCloud and Dropbox combo, but all Google seems to have done is rename Google Docs as Google Drive. Regardless of its name, if Apple wanted to create some competition for Google Drive, they’d have to at least marry iCloud and iWork.
Google has an iOS version of Drive in the works. Again, the challenge is how to design the app to entice Apple users to use it, and get some of them to switch to Android because of what they can only get with Android. It would come down to Google being able build a better Drive, something we haven’t heard is on the agenda right now.
There’s another twist to Google’s dilemma. Unlike Maps, Drive has a lot of competition. Although Drive is a nice all-in-one package, other apps have features that Drive doesn’t. Google has to give Apple users the full-featured Drive; otherwise they already have other places to go.
There is nothing else out there like Google Music. Upload your entire music collection right from iTunes, and access it from anywhere you can get on the Web – your phone, your tablet, your computer, or someone else’s computer. Really it’s more of a question of where you can’t access it.
Now that we’ve established that Google’s product outshines anything Apple offers, would it be worthwhile to Google to design an iOS version?
Consider first what being a Google Play user means. When you want to buy new music, you press the Google Play button in Google Music and go right to the Google Play Store. While you can upload the music you purchase on iTunes to your Google Music account, Apple isn’t going to make it easy to buy anything from the Google Play Store. There’s no referral money in it for them, and they’d lose their own iTunes sales.
If Google were to release a Google Music app for iOS, instead of buying their music in iTunes and transferring it, Apple users would buy their music from Google via the Web. Besides, while Apple charges a subscription fee for iTunes Match, it’s free to sync your music to you Google Music account. There’s no reason to make the extra effort to buy music on iTunes, and only to transfer it to Google Music.
There is the loss of ad money to consider if they create a Google Music client on iOS, but we’re sure Google is taking a hard look at its options on this one.
There is really no competition out there for Google Chrome. It’s the best browser choice on any platform. Other competitors have tried to topple Google, but no one has come close. When you want to do a search, you “google it”, you don’t “bing it” or “yahoo it.” Does Apple (or anyone else for that matter) have any hope of competing with Google on the browser front?
Google has been cranking up their investment in Chrome. What Google created on the Web, they’ve duplicated for mobile with Chrome for Android. Now, with their minimalist approach to operating system design, Google has got Microsoft looking over its shoulder with Chrome OS for devices like tablets and netbooks.
Google defined “search engine”, and it’s doing that very successfully for other platforms. There just doesn’t seem to be any reason for Google to share it with Apple and iOS.
Google could consider going after Safari Mobile with a Chrome iOS that is as full-featured as the Android version. There’s an inherent problem with making this effort though. With Android you can set Chrome OS as the default browser. Everything you do with the web will be done through Chrome if you want it that way. With iOS, Safari would be the default and the user would have to make the manual switch to Chrome with each search.
Again, Google knows its stuff when it comes to this product. Google is probably already in the game on this one.
We’re probably not telling Google anything they don’t already know. They have had a good thing going with Apple for awhile now, but the app game is changing very quickly. Hardware and software keep out-doing one another, so there is plenty of room for new directions. One of those might be making a bigger effort at crossing platforms with some of Google’s mainstays like Maps, Music, Drive and Chrome. They are all well-designed products, and a couple of them have no serious competition.
Go for it Google. We like choices!