By Sidhant Srivastava
Edited by Michelle Cherian, Associate Editor, The Indian Economist
The title might be misleading. The screens being talked about are not tv screens (Big Boss won that battle a long time back) or even our computer screens. I am talking about the screens which almost every one of us carry in our pockets- smart phones and tablets.
About a decade ago, one needed different devices to listen to music, make phone calls, check emails and browse the internet. Then a great visionary, Apple CEO Steve Jobs thought of combining all these features in one device. Over the next three years, there were a lot of executives at Apple whose sole responsibility was to turn this vision into reality. Be it the software (iOS) or the hardware (guerilla glass screens) or the battery life or the numerous glitches in the functioning, everything had to be taken care of.
In January 2007, Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone at a press conference. It was, rather is a device which you could carry in your pockets and could simultaneously make phone calls from, use to check emails, browse the internet as well as listen to some quality music. Jobs gave a demo of the phone at the conference and made it all seem so effortless.
Meanwhile, google was working on an operating system- Android to be used as software in various phones like Samsung, Motorola etc. Google had planned to launch it by the end of 2007 but Jobs stole the limelight with the iPhone and with the kind of features the phone had, he changed the entire ball game altogether.
Google later on, launched an enhanced version of Android for various phone manufacturers and the battle has been going on ever since; in fact they have started a revolution. But this battle has caused a lot of collateral damage as well. The mobile revolution has suddenly put roughly $ 250 billion in revenue in about half a dozen industries at stake. Some drastic changes have been brought about by this revolution. For those on the wrong end of these changes, the past five years have been unpleasant. Newspaper publishers have seen print advertising revenues and circulation fall to twenty year lows. This worries the book publishers as well as they anticipate that they will be hit in a similar fashion. Companies like Amazon which sell ebooks have not only dropped the price to levels which publishers find difficult to make profits at, but also are luring in manybest selling authors. Movie studio executives are already suffering heavy losses as their DVD business is diminishing. Now as soon as people watch a movie, critical acclaim spreads like wildfire over Twitter and Facebook so it hinders the building of audience for not –so- good movies. The television industry is being affected as a lot people nowadays watch a show on YouTube rather than on television.
Google’s five year long fight with Apple hasn’t been a distraction for either company. In fact, it has made both the companies better. Apple might not be having an app store if Google hadn’t planned one first. The Android software might still have looked as if it had been designed for engineers and not consumers, had Google not been forced to compete with Apple. The list just goes on and on. This is a struggle that is reshaping our technology and the content we see and use on every desirable new gadget.
The momentum in the battle was definitely in Google’s favor by mid 2013. Google definitely seemed the dominant player in the fight as Apple seemed in 2011, three years after it revealed the iPhone. The android’s share was continuing to rise, 75% in the Smartphone arena and 50% in tablets. Moreover, the competition had pushed down the prices Apple could charge for some devices and that was eating into Apple’s once unassailable profit margins. The share prices of Apple which were once riding to new heights are falling, while Google share prices are at an all time high. Apple is losing its ranking as the most valuable company and this is turning out to be a symbolic change.
It’s tempting to predict that it’s only a matter of time before Apple comes back with its own new revolutionary device. Certainly that’s how the competition between the two has been up until now.
Sidhant graduated from IIT and discovered his creative bent of mind towards writing after having a near death accident, he had never thought of taking his writing to a professional level. He started blogging just last year, but got an amazing response to his blogs (http://ihavenothingelseto.blogspot.in), he then joined a fashion and lifestyle magazine as the sub editor. He is more than happy to contribute insightful articles on diversified topics to The Indian Economist.