The idea of a flagship smartphone by a software company makes absolute sense. The advantages associated with having full control over the device you manufacture, and writing the code yourself is a no-brainer. What makes the iPhone stand out as a product with an impressive user experience is the close synergy between hardware and software from Apple.
But Apple is a different company. And so is Google. The two are known to have a contrasting approach towards technology. Up until now, Google has been largely ‘open’ in its approach to software development. To quite an extent, it has opened its arms to the open source community. As a result, Android has thrived with the wide tinkering community, and has in fact, created communities that have forked out versions of the Android operating system. Manufacturers after manufacturers have taken on Android as the preferred platform to power their devices. Apple, on the other hand, decides for you. It’s as closed as it gets.
Acquiring a company doesn’t guarantee success
Microsoft has come the long way in the devices business. And probably its greatest lesson has been acquiring Nokia. The learning from it, as evident from the way CEO Satya Nadella has steered the company has been to either exist in a market to be a leader, or move away. Around the time Nadella took over the helm of affairs from Steve Ballmer, Microsoft was flirting very actively with the devices market. The other companies doing so were BlackBerry and Nokia.
Both companies had seen market leader positions in their lifecycles, and both were very heavily losing ground to newer entrants – Apple and Samsung. The new leaders on the block were iOS and Android. There was no other platform. Today BlackBerry and Nokia both exist, as Android smartphone manufacturers. And the route increasingly evident these day is stock Android. The leanest meanest experience to offer.
Back in the day, Microsoft acquired Nokia. The two have since parted ways. Nokia exists, but as a name. The company HMD Global is using the Nokia brand name to offer smartphones powered by Android. The promise is to rollout OS upgrades on priority in the shortest possible. Microsoft in the meanwhile focuses on its larger businesses with more focus – cloud, operating systems and AI.
Google also has acquired companies. Motorola is a good example. After putting in billions, it also wrote off billions and sold it to Lenovo. Motorola exists today, and is doing well for itself with the marketing clout and reach that Lenovo offers it.
Last month, Google and HTC seemed to have started dating. I’d love to see if this is a match made in heaven, or a very carnal relationship that withers away in a couple of autumns. In reality, the mere acquisition doesn’t guarantee success. For the greater good of a successful devices business, there’s need for great software, great hardware, great brand recall, and sticky consumer base. What’s interesting is that not all companies have all of these factors at their peak all the time. There are times when devices by Apple don’t do so well. The iPhone SE is a good example. ALSO READ: Beyond HTC, here are 15 major Google acquisitions since it went public
HTC has been struggling despite building great looking devices. The company’s specialization seems to have been industrial design. Some of the HTC devices from year ago and the brushed aluminum buzzwords they used, can still impress consumers today.
Supply chain and marketing mavericks
The real success of Apple, a company that has come back from the ashes, is the sheer brilliance of personalities. First Steve Jobs, its iconic founder, and now Tim Cook, the brains behind Apple’s superior supply chain network. The strength in Apple’s business is the result of a powerful foundation.
The decisions taken by Jobs, and the genesis of the Macintosh platform, the stripped iOS platform and the close marriage between hardware and software has brought the company and its iconic products so far. There have been failures along the way, but the performance has been largely positive.
The focus with everything Apple does has been around experience. And with us humans, that’s what instills feelings within us. We feel emotions towards the products that give us a phenomenal experience. That give us performance that stays consistent. Devices that don’t let us down when we need them the most. When all of this translated into communication by the product, it becomes a part of our life. We want to talk about them to our peers, friends and family. RELATED: Apple iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus launch: Short queues, high enthusiasm
To loosely put it, the new iPhone becomes a topic of discussion in friend circles. Irrespective of whether they’re brawns or beauties. The Pixel still has ground to cover before it acquires a cult status. In a society that has for ever wanted to project and aspire an ubercool way of life, the iPhone brings together an aura of aspiration, a subject of lust that the Pixel very well could be. Even the creator of Android – Andy Rubin – has managed to create a smartphone with aspirational elements to it. The audience that would look to it would be small. But given that there’s no corporation associated with it, the accomplishment is phenomenal.
Somehow, Google, and the clout and influence it wields, doesn’t line up with the impact of the Pixel. I’d wait for the day when users line up outside a Google store in India to get their hands on the latest Pixel smartphone. I saw that kind of fanboyism with the Nexus lineup. The Pixel up until now has been lacklustre. Whether we like it or not, this is the very hoopla that serves the litmus test for the success of the brand.