OPINION

Microsoft, Apple, Google - The Battle for Domination

April 03, 2010
sufferingsocrates

With just a day to go for the Apple iPad launch in stores across the U.S., it is also a good time for introspection. Introspection about how the mobile, computing and the internet world at large is shaping up. What is clear is that, as much as technology enthusiasts complain about Microsoft's lack of open source technology support, Apple is quietly doing the same, through a different route. Microsoft has achieved success imposing their own technology on millions of computers and laptops around the world, while Apple seems to be doing the same on its mobile devices. How? Simple, by tying its customers to iTunes.

Apple is what it is, due to its flawless products and amazing user friendly gadgets. I must say, as much as I am anti-Apple in terms of products, my experience of the iPod Touch for gaming purposes was stunning. Its response amazing. But what cuts the deal short of a real game winner is undoubtedly for being chained to iTunes. iTunes maybe revolutionary. But it only works for those who are willing to be loyal to Apple and its products. Else Apple's products are just bricks.

At least as far as the iPods and iPhones are concerned. The iPad will be no different, and Apple will continue to weave its net of circumvention yet again. That the device maybe stunning or incomparable is a different matter altogether. If as a buyer I don't have the liberty to load any apps, or any games to my wish, or load songs as drag and drop is curtailed, it becomes cumbersome and downright irritating.

What Apple is doing is no different than what Microsoft has been doing with its PC marker for years now. The iPhone is proprietary to Apple and there is a strict screening process for accepting apps into the iPhone. Moreover, the iPhone platform is unique and can only make an Apple iPhone and never a Motorola or HTC phone. The extent of restriction that Apple is imposing reminds one of how it has been with Microsoft in the PC market. Apple is imposing itself in the mobile segment of music players, phones and now tablet pcs. Apple does not even support the ubiquitous Adobe Flash into its devices. Its more a statement at the masses saying, either you are with us or against us.

Contrary to Apple's iPhone, Google has been the pioneer for open source technology. Its Android platform is a prime example. Unlike just one iPhone, Google has opened up multiple avenues across handset makers ranging from Samsung to Motorola to HTC. This gives the consumer multiple options which the handset makers themselves provide, but on top of Android itself.

What's more, Android does not impose restrictions on developers who create apps for the Android. Which is why developers opting for the Android over the iPhone has been on steady rise over the past months. Microsoft has taken note of these developments, and just like it launched the Zune range of music players to compete with the iPods, it has launched Windows 7 mobile platform.

Google has a near monopoly on the internet world. It earns billions of dollars through its online advertising where it is dominant. Just like Google has expanded into the mobile world, Apple is quietly gearing up to start up its own mobile advertising platform, the rumored iAd. Microsoft, not one to be left far behind, has already tied up with Yahoo to share and expand its search queries and increase the reach of its impressive Bing search engine.

As more of the world is getting linked to the internet, the wars amongst the triumvirate giants of technology will be won on the internet. As of today, our daily life around technology resembles - Microsoft for Computers, Apple for Mobile(s) and Google for Internet. What this means is, each of these three giants control our life atleast for a majority of the time we spend on technology. Be it the internet explorer, or Google Chrome or Safari. Be it an Android mobile, iPhone or Windows 7. Be it a Windows 7 laptop or an Apple MacBook. Be it Bing or Google. Be it iPod or Zune. These three giants leave an indelible mark at some point in our daily technology consumption.

What remains to be seen though, is if Google can indeed continue on its open source path and win the battles against Microsoft and Apple?I would be delighted if Google could do it, for I want to have the freedom to choose what I want to run on my device than being told what I can. While Microsoft and Apple have laid restrictions to such choices, Google still is the hope. And what better a platform than the internet to find the ultimate winner? Internet is the only open source medium out there unless it is your misfortune of being in China.

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