We shop in browser windows, we read the news in browser windows, we sign up for this or that, and even bank online– all done mostly in browser windows. Apple changed all that with the iPhone.
Here’s how I figured out exactly why Google really, truly, deeply hates Apple.
Among browsers, the pecking order differs on Mac vs. Windows PCs. On Windows, it’s usually Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, then Opera.
On the Mac, there’s no Internet Explorer any more, so the order usually is Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, then Opera. Last again. But it’s Opera’s latest version which got me to thinking about our browsing habits, and why Google hates Apple.
Opera never makes the top three browsers used, Mac or Windows. But Opera is a very capable, fast, and feature laden web browser. It’s cross platform, has unique features and speed, even on slow network connections. There’s built-in fraud and malware protection. Bookmarks are easier to manage than in Safari.
I used the latest version of Opera to do my web browsing for a few days and I admit the experience was pleasant, despite a few quirks (old habits are hard to break). Then it struck me.
I thought, ‘Why would anyone need another browser beyond Safari, Chrome, or Firefox?‘ Then I thought, ‘Why bother with a browser when apps will do the job?‘ Now, that’s not true in every case on the Mac or PC desktop. Browsers still rule. Which means Google’s search engine rules. Which means most of Google’s revenue and profits come from using a browser.
On iPhone and iPad the world is entirely different. Browsers don’t rule at all. In fact, they’re mostly an afterthought. Apps rule. For mobile devices, what we used to use a browser to do– search and view sites– we use apps to do.
Whether news, banking, searching for restaurants, checking out product specifications or doing any of what we mostly do on a Mac browser– we do on apps on iPhone and iPad, and Android OS-based smartphones and tablets are no different (except there, usage is much, much less than on Apple devices).
Apps on mobile devices marginalize Google’s main source of revenue. Here’s a theory of mine.
The iPhone’s iconic design surprised the Android engineers at Google. Google would still have ruled search on the web with Chrome for iPhone had Apple stuck to the script and allowed native apps only from Apple.
Instead, Steve Jobs caved in to pressure from his executive team, and a year later apps and the iTunes App Store appeared, and Google was very unhappy. Why? Apps negate the need for Google’s bread and butter search business.
Giving Android OS away to cell phone manufacturers was Google’s way of leveling the playing field. Years later, Google still struggles to make money on mobile devices while Apple takes home 75-percent of the industry’s profits.
Can you imagine how powerful Apple would be in mobile had Google not given away Android?