I could have included other companies, like Samsung and Sony, but they mostly run licensed operating systems on their devices. There is a certain degree of cross platform inter-operability between these devices. For example, there is an iOS app that gives remote functionality for the Google TV, and it is still possible to run iTunes on a Windows machine, and thus stream video to an Apple TV via AirPlay. Apple tends to develop proprietary standards, making it impossible, for example, to stream video from an Android device to Apple TV. Apple does this for 3 reasons:
- Security - Apple is very careful about allowing other devices to connect to its ecosystem, thus preventing viruses from spreading.
- The Halo Effect - Building on its huge iPhone user-base Apple can promote their complimentary devices which further enhance the user experience.
- Licence fees - Apple can collect licence fees from hardware manufacturers looking to incorporate features like AirPlay into the devices.
The reason for this is because Apple and Google have very different business models. Apple make premium hardware devices, and make their profit from the huge margins they charge. On the other hand, Google make most of their profits from advertising, and anything that gets people online is to their advantage. However, this seems to be changing. With the success of the Nexus 7 tablet, and more recently the Nexus 4 mobile phone, Google are reportedly looking into sourcing their own Chromebooks to complement those already made by Acer and Samsung.
This 3-way battle is essentially a land grab, because all 3 companies will try and lock users into their respective ecosystems. Apple is leading at the moment, Google has the most flexibility, and Microsoft has the most to lose.
I am a huge fan of Google, and have been a longtime Windows user, but ever since I switched to an iPhone I have been drawn further and further into Apple's "walled garden"; I now have an iPad 3 and a latest generation Apple TV. I have been hugely disappointed in Windows 8, so I'm now considering switching to one of the new iMacs as my main home machine. I still use Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs, etc, and I will continue to use my 18 month old Windows 7 laptop until I can afford to replace it, but more and more I look to Apple for my digital fix. Which ecosystem do you use?
Thanks for reading.