Apple: Cast ye (Google) demons out!

Apple doesn’t like Google. This much is obvious. In the formative years of the (modern) smartphone market – by that, we mean the iPhone era – these two companies were good friends, brothers even – Cain and Abel. They were the ‘cool’ tech companies; they were a solution to the staid Nokia and Microsoft. Amen.

Apple happily farmed out some of the functionality of its iPhone devices to Google, even going so far as to build the YouTube app for the iPhone on Google’s behalf. Maps was also supplied free of charge. But Cain soon grew restless.

The now very paranoid Apple is in the midst of an exorcism. Steve Jobs’ near psychotic pursuit of lawsuits – against Google, HTC, Samsung… anyone really, that had the audacity to release a smartphone in the last 5 years – is now coming full circle.

Much of the past 18 months has been spent crippling YouTube and Maps – not so much proactively, but more through a lack of action – neither has seen much in the way of updates or added functionality. Apple’s apps are mere shadows of the web versions; Maps on an Android device is vastly superior to any iOS device. YouTube the same. The knives are out.

And Steve did say unto the faithful, "I saw Google fall like lightning from heaven." (Jobs 10:18)

Thanks to Adhurl

Following the release of iOS 6, which will follow the launch of the iPhone 5 in around September/October, there will be no pre-installed YouTube app. Apple claims that this is because the YouTube license has expired, and that Google will be supplying its own version of the app shortly (no date has been specified). Google Maps will also be replaced with Apple Maps, amongst a host of other changes.

Judging by Apple’s press conference, this has been anointed from on high. We are apparently meant to be excited about this path chosen for us. I, unfortunately, am one of the infidels who just want the most accurate and useful map available. May Steve have mercy on me.

For the same reason I buy the Oxford Dictionary or Encyclopaedia Britannica (rather than cheap knock offs), Maps is an authority. It is the defacto standard in online mapping software.

Anyone who has used the poor Bing Maps recently knows where Apple’s dark path can lead.

The phallacy (sic) of Apple’s thinking is simply that Apple Maps will be better than Google Maps by virtue of it being Apple. It’s a simple fact that Google has been at this game for longer – 7 years. Apple is starting at ground zero with unproven, third party technology (now first party), without Google’s street view, or any other tidbits. I don’t particularly want satnav on my phone or iPad thanks, when I have needed this functionality, Google Maps has more than sufficed in almost every country I’ve used it. 3D maps, also useless.

While ostensibly this won’t make too much of a difference to the average Apple user – who can still use Google Maps through the browser – the in-app integration won’t be there. Not that it was in the first place – this is an advantage to Android users, who won’t get a compromised experience.

That’s it really – for once, Apple will be offering its users a sub-par, ‘compromised experience’. For the uncompromising Jobs, this is somewhat antithetical. It’s emotional. It’s personal. An inability to accept that any other company might do something better. The hatred of anyone piggybacking off your revenue stream, even if it makes you money too.

The removal of YouTube is a bit more psychotic again, as there is no Apple alternative. Apple isn’t going to attempt to build its own $500m user-generated video network. This decision was made out of spite, and will do little more than remove another cluttered icon from the iOS home screen (Somewhat ironically, I have actually wanted to delete the undeletable YouTube icon from my iPhone for years).

Most I suspect will simply bookmark YouTube to their iPad homepages, and it will function similar to before. So why bother? iCleansing. It is sending out a message.

So what next? Will Apple be stupid enough to cast out Google search functionality? It almost certainly would love to. But this is a bridge too far. Bing is horrid – and owned by Microsoft. Yahoo search is irrelevant. What else is there? The broken Siri?

Apple is probably hoping iOS Apps take over the whole mobile internet – the AOL walled garden approach – which would make the iTunes/App Store the default search engine, funnel advertising cash through Apple’s coffers, and cast Google down into the fires from whence it came.

This isn’t going to happen.

Much like explaining to the spoilt child in the supermarket that he can’t have all the chocolate on the rack, Apple might have to realise that HTML5 and other opportunities will mean that Google will always be a part of Apple’s user experience. Apple is stretching itself thinly, and soon it will reach its limits.

Despite what may seem, on the surface, to be a pretty minor issue considering all that is going on in the tech world, this kind of passive-aggressive behaviour only makes Apple more like Microsoft circa 1999 – the anti-trust era. Apple’s brand is being damaged.

While Microsoft’s brand is attached to a nerdy, buggy, corporate-macho culture, Apple is rapidly being associated with techno-fascism (note: i too hate any reductio ad hitlerum debate). The fact that TV show Futurama has even made an episode mocking Apple to this effect should be of concern. Satire means an opinion is being formalised, normalised and stereotyped.

Futurama's Attack of the Killer App
Futurama’s series six episode – ‘Attack Of The Killer App’

The next generation of users will not be so eager to follow the Apple church in such a cult like fashion – much like teenagers rebel against their parents. Apple is taking advantage of its long built up (and very much earned) good will – but you can only push so far before you get pushed back. Apple will end up in court for anti-competitive practises. The EU is already watching.

How is a ‘baked in’ Apple Maps any different to Microsoft launching Windows with Internet Explorer built in? Google has the (rather spurious) open-source argument to fall back on. Apple doesn’t.

Another shock for Apple may be the fact that there are those of us who like Google AND Apple. This is not some tribal fanboy battle to the death. Google users aren’t just idiots that have yet to discover Apple’s awesomeness; they are people who want the best possible mobile experience.

Apple used to want that for us too.

Type: White Paper


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