Apple Gains Strength as Google Rattles Its Cage
May 11, 2011 5:00 AM PT
Apple seems to be getting stronger over time, despite competition from Google and, now, Amazon.
Older Apple iOS products sold at a discount such as the iPhone 3GS and the first-generation iPad are reportedly selling better than new Google Android devices.
The debut last week of the iPad 2 in China drew huge crowds, the inevitable scalpers and, at one Apple store, reportedly resulted a beatdown of some customers by a foreign employee of the establishment.
But the competition isn't just sitting back and taking a beating.
Google announced Tuesday that the next version of Android will run on both smartphones and tablets, much like Apple's iOS does. It also unveiled music and movie services to go head to head with streaming entertainment services from Apple and Amazon.com.
Meanwhile, Amazon.com, which launched its own music streaming service recently to take on Apple's iTunes service, has now added access for iOS-powered devices in what seems to be an acceptance of Cupertino's dominance in the field.
Finally, for publishers on the iPad, some of which may be feeling trapped, Yudu is offering a new system that lets them sell subscriptions to their products directly from their own websites. This will save publishers the 30 percent cut of the take Apple gets when consumers subscribe to magazines through the iTunes App Store.
Apple share prices stood at $349.45 at closing time Tuesday, up $1.85.
The Cupertino/Mountain View Saga
Consumers apparently would rather purchase older Apple iOS products such as the iPhone 3GS and first-generation iPad at a discount than fork out for newer devices running the Android operating system, Canaccord Genuity technology analyst Michael Walkley wrote in a note to investors.
Apple did not respond to requests for comment by press time.
For some time now, one advantage iOS had over Android was that Apple's operating system ran on both tablets and smartphones while Google's didn't.
Why, consumers and analysts have asked, doesn't Google follow Apple's lead and create just one operating system for both?
On Tuesday, Google unveiled plans to do just that at Google I/O, its annual developer conference, being held in San Francisco through Wednesday.
Google reportedly gave attendees a preview of the next major Android update, called "Ice Cream Sandwich." This will be released later in the year, and it will run on all mobile devices.
However, Google may still remain behind Apple in the mobile OS area. The next version of Apple's Mac OS, nicknamed "Lion," which will debut in the fall, will reportedly incorporate many of the best features of the iPad.
Apple has incorporated "a lot of the concepts in the iPad and iPhone" into Lion, Carl Howe, director of anywhere consumer research at the Yankee Group, told MacNewsWorld.
Further, Lion will save everything all the time, Howe stated. "The stuff's stored locally on your disk, and Lion has a versioning file system, so it keeps a back copy as well," he added.
Lion will also make resuming work easy. "Everything always starts up where you left off, and all the programs work that way," Howe said.
Google also announced Tuesday a beta online music service on Android and movie rentals on the Motorola Xoom tablet through downloads from the Android Market.
Amazon Submits to iOS -- or Does It?
In a move that appeared to bode ill for Google's fledgling streaming music service, Amazon.com, which launched its own music streaming service recently, has now added access for devices running Apple's iOS mobile operating system, according to a report in TechCrunch.
"It seems like a nice concession on Amazon's part to recognize the fact that a lot of people with iOS devices download music from sources other than iTunes," Andrew Eisner, director of community and content at Retrevo, told MacNewsWorld.
However, Amazon spokesperson Cat Griffin would not explicitly acknowledge the extension of the company's streaming music service to iOS devices.
"Amazon Cloud Drive and Amazon Cloud Player are compatible with any Android phone, Android tablet, Mac or PC," Griffin said. "We have not announced availability on iOS."
Amazon Cloud Player for Web currently supports Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari for Mac and Google Chrome, Griffin told MacNewsWorld.
The inclusion of iOS devices is really "a very smart move, it's recognition that here's an opportunity to sell more MP3 files, and this is what Amazon does best -- sell books, music and videos," Eisner said.
Relieving Publishers of Their Pain
Publishers hawking their digital content on the iPad have been feuding with Apple over its insistence that subscriptions be sold through the iTunes App Store, as they have to give Cupertino 30 percent of the take.
At least one publisher, Conde Nast, has bowed to the system. The iPad edition of The New Yorker became the first periodical to use Apple's in-app subscriptions this week.
However, Yudu is offering a dual subscriptions system that lets publishers sell subscriptions to their products directly from their own websites while letting Apple device owners download these purchases onto their devices through the App Store. This will save publishers the need to give Apple its cut of the take.
Yudu's subscription system, which is installed on the back end of publishers' websites, is in full compliance with Apple's rules for the iTunes App Store, Yudu CEO Richard Stephenson told MacNewsWorld.
"No comments have been raised on any apps submitted regarding this scheme," Stephenson said. "We have over 75 apps live and are submitting a new app a day, and we talk with senior people at Apple in Cupertino most weeks or whenever we have a borderline issue."