How the new Apple Watch surprised the world and made Google fans even more jealous.

Admittedly, the ECG function, however unlikely-we-actually-all-need-it, does sound so cool. Like heart rate tracking when it first came out, it is cool, and another order of magnitude higher in difficulty. Lovely. Hope more companies get onto it, and it gets cheaper to make. (However please don’t make all gadgets yet more expensive, ugh. Wallet cries.)

Google fans will lament how the Apple Watch system grows better each iteration, and how Android/Google watches stagnate and grow irrelevant across the years. It’s totally true. I wouldn’t actively recommend Android Wear watches now. Buyers need to make their own choice and live with it, don’t blame me!

It’s a narrow view to see the whole consumer wearable and electronics industry as just these two companies, there’s also the Samsung behemoth, Fitbit, and many others that make lots of phones, watches, wearables, trackers, monitors, etc. Although none are as huge as these two in presence. And many people do purchase Samsung phones (which have some great ones like Note 9), FitBit trackers which have great battery life, etc. Good worthy options.

So let’s assume for a moment the rest dont exist. If our lives depended on Apple vs Google. If the only hope of catching Apple was for Google to buck up, what would the situation be?

Apple
phone hardware – great and growing. cpu chips good, display good. innovation on things like screen poor. visual unlock good but lame. security good.
phone OS – so far acceptable. security good. little innovation right now.
watch hardware – pretty good
watch OS – improving steadily in the right direction
tablet hardware – good. steady enhancements.
tablet OS – same as above
voice assistant – poor, and maintaining
maps, backup, search and other accessory software services – poor and maintaining. no big changes to be seen. some investment.

Google (incl Android in general)
phone hardware (assume pixel) – not bad, some improvements. industry standard cpu. not much innovation other than camera which is sufficiently solved for everyone
phone OS – stable, but not much improvement visible. actually lots of underlying work but not sure it’s appreciated. security still needs help.
watch hardware – poor. slow outdated hardware components
watch OS – poor. slow and little support or integration.
tablet hardware – poor and maintaining
tablet OS – same
voice assistant – leader and growing steadily in multiple directions. languages, dual language, functionality, integrations all growing quickly.
maps, backup, search and other accessory software services – leader and maintaining. not much revolutionary innovation lately but small enhancements maintain.

Frankly the two are still, and have always been such different companies. One is hardware based, one is software/data based. If iphones, watches are 80% of Apple, Android and accessories is probably like 20% or less of Google. As a consumer, we see Android and Search etc as the face of Google. Within Google, Search (+ ads) and Cloud are probably the two biggies. I mean, Google Cloud has grown tremendously in terms of revenue, share, focus, manpower. Tremendously. And it has great potential in bottom line, unlike Android which has poor revenue stream other than indirectly through Ads, and which the legislators in EU are giving so much undeserved flak over. If you dont like Android, fine, go and stay within Apple and have no choice and pay through the nose, daft. G as a company does not, would not, and should not, have the focus on expanding/improving Android phones and tablets and watches. It doesn’t bring in sufficient licensing (near 0), nor hardware revenue right now, and foreseeably slow unless the ecosystem business model changes dramatically. Would be an earthquake if it does. Would not be easy or clear path to victory. Might even backfire and cause more problems. Why risk that when they have lots of better revenue on Ads and Cloud side.

If you look at the focus from inside, Google prioritises projects that 1. change humankind (self driving cars, flying cars, quantum computing, AI, etc), 2. are technically challenging and cool (better network, write new OS, containers, cool code), 3. have to do with billion-count audience, free, contains lots of data, analytics, search, India, etc (Mapping, languages). Never forget their core mission of organizing the worlds data and making it accessible – they really repeat it alot and really live it. Do fancy watches and tablets come in here? In a limited way but the important thing is – it’s not the focus.

Companies that don’t focus on something from top to bottom, usually don’t succeed at it. That’s why Google prunes old projects mercilessly. Killing all our favorite apps because it didn’t grow big enough, didn’t fit their plans, or nobody wants to babysit it anymore. Sads.

So we really would not expect Google to give us the next fancy perfect watch or tablet, or phone even. That should and could come from a different company. If we just want an Apple Watch-esque device, Fitbit etc could do the same. It doesn’t need to run 1000 apps with an appstore, just proprietary apps with cool functions would do. My Fitbit charge 2 works great, paired with Android too. (tldr we should give up on Android Wear?) I guess the reason we still root for Google to do this is because 1. we trust Google’s engineering which is usually reputable in software and security, 2. good warranty followthrough, 3. not many companies have the deep pockets to go up against Apple, 4. integrated data would be cool (though so many ppl are anti google monopoly sigh).

So, would the Pixel 3 have anything new? Kind of unlikely to have anything earth shattering. Most software enhancements like Google Lens, AR just don’t have that real-world impact yet. Most new enhancements are sweet but people just don’t market or remember it enough. I love how Pixel 2 has great call filtering (actually all Google dialer), great remote support in app, great Google Assistant integration, great Android P features like smart battery saving etc. But many new Google features are always ported to other phones.

So, we’ll all be watching (ooh pun), but don’t expect any great announcements. But I still strongly recommend the Pixel phones over iPhones. =p

 

p.s. remember the most stunning part of Google IO 2018? The super smart Google Assistant conversation making remote calls to make restaurant bookings. That, is your indication of where Google is focusing on. Google’s AI vs Apple’s hardware. Each their own unique strengths and obsessions. Dang I want that AI on my phone.

How the new Apple Watch surprised the world and made Google fans even more jealous.

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