The “Google way” is supposed to be the way companies do business today. Their philosophy of making their prices as low as possible, even free, to get as many users as possible; of making their software both open-source and easily-integratable; of being invisible, instead of loud; of being focused on software instead of stuff; is the widespread best practice nearly all new-age organizations are looking to adopt today.
All, but one: Apple. Not only does Apple reject the Gospel of Google, it relishes in its own mystique and ignores those who dare oppose it.
The perfect illustration of the premise above? Apple’s latest move where it agreed to a deal with HBO where people can buy HBO NOW! – essentially an app that offers all of HBO’s content without having to buy cable – for $15 a month.
The catch (along with the price, which is nearly double what Netflix charges)? HBO NOW! is an Apple app, so only a user with an Apple device, i.e. a Macbook, iPhone, iPad or Apple TV, can download it.
Google would never do that. Google would make it available to everyone, as Google rejects the idea of exclusivity. And most companies agree; very few other organizations would try what Apple is doing.
And yet Apple is doing it because it just doesn’t care. It loves being exclusive, and it is going to charge its users a premium to access that exclusivity. Apple believes it is the best in the world, it has the best products in the world, the best software, the best hardware and rejects deals, integration or, god forbid, this whole “freemium” concept.
What Am I Talking About?
The obvious beginning point in this piece is explaining the Google way. What is the Google way?
Well, look at what they do. They spent their first few years not even worrying about making money, just building the best search engine possible and getting as many people to use it. They built the greatest map in the history of mankind, and give it away for nothing. They built the best browser going, and it’s free. They mostly shun hardware and brick-and-mortar stores for heavy investments in software that they give away and then try to figure out how to make money off it later.
Bottom line, Google believes its users have all the power, and treats it as such. And that core philosophy has widely been accepted as a best practice, where the focus is on pleasing the end user first and then making money second.
A best practice with one major exception: Apple. Apple rejects this concept. Apple doesn’t treat its users as if they have all the power and they are fortune to serve them; Apple believes it makes amazing products and considers its users lucky to be able to buy them.
Just look at their prices: the iPad is more than a $100 more than comparable products. The iPhone costs pretty much the same as its competitors, but a MacBook is nearly twice the price as similar PCs. And none of the software is open source, so only other Apple products can tap into them.
Here’s another core difference between the two: Google, as I’ve argued before, wants to be almost invisible. It wants you to use Google and Google products without you even realizing you are using Google products, which is why nearly everything they do can so easily integrate into other apps and sites.
Apple, meanwhile, is anything but invisible. They are the kings of self-promotion. When they release a new product, they hire U2, invite any tech reporter/blogger worth reading and it dominates the news cycle for the week.
Nobody loves Apple more than Apple. And they’ve done an amazing job of getting a lot of people to buy into their vision and buy their products, even at a premium.
Apple, to use a sports reference, is sort of the Muhammad Ali of corporations. In a business world where most other companies are trying to do the best they can and adapt to users’ wants, Apple proclaims itself the best in the world and forces users to adapt to it.
By doing this, Apple puts a lot of pressure on itself. Pressure to hire the absolute best people. Pressure to build really great products. Pressure to put on amazing promotions for each new release.
But they love that pressure. They live on that pressure. And they, even after the passing of their transformative leader, continue to flourish under that pressure.
Yes, the Google way is great, and Google has gotten heaps of love (including from me) for the way it does business. But it is nice to know that not everyone has to do it their way, that there is still room for rouges out there like Apple, who, as they so boldly proclaim, think different.
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