Apple and Google approach the mobile divorce aisle

Apple is likely to push Google Maps out of its own Maps app next week, in its long march toward nixing the search giant as a default service provider, but the bigger war in the Apple vs. Google saga will be courting developers.

Flurry's Peter Farago sums it up:

This month, the world's two largest mobile app platform providers, Apple and Google, enter what is arguably the most critical month of the year for each company, when each hosts their annual developer conference, the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) and Google I/O.

While engaged in a multi-year platform war, their success largely depends on innovation provided for their platforms by the third-party developer community. If the developer community embraces one platform over the other, developers will build the software that infinitely extends the value of the consumer experience, giving a platform a meaningful edge.

Bottom line: developers will follow the money. Apple developers garner more app revenue — folks pay for iOS apps, but Android versions are often free. Google will also have to push its iOS wares through Apple's App Store, as any of its currently built-in services will eventually get the boot.

Today, Apple's on-going effort to replace Google Maps and other services has little to no financial hit. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster noted:

Media reports continue to suggest that Apple will replace Google Maps with its own solution in iOS 6. While the immediate financial impact to Google is minimal, we believe the move would suggest a clear strategy on Apple's part to minimise Google on iOS.

Moving forward, we expect a continued tug-of-war between Apple and Google. We believe Google is likely to push more of its apps through the App Store, including Chrome, while Apple will continue to innovate around discovery on the iPhone, through Siri.

Financially, Munster reckons that iOS will only provide 2 per cent (about US$4.5 billion) of Google's total revenue in 2012. Of that sum, Google gets US$500 million from mobile display ads and US$4 billion from search. It's unlikely that iOS is the largest portion of Google's search revenue. If Apple nixes Google Maps, it won't break the bank.

A few other thoughts:

  • If Apple replaces Google services, users aren't likely to notice
  • These moves by Apple, to replace Google services, will probably lead to nixing search. If Google is replaced by an iOS default search, that will be the ultimate test case for users
  • Developer loyalty appears to be with iOS based on Flurry data. Indeed, most apps go to iOS first, and then Android
  • Siri may be the wild card. What happens if Siri excludes Google results over time?
  • It's unclear that Google can cut it in the Apple app store framework. Google has multiple free apps, but its biggest ones check in at number 70 on the charts, and below.


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ozoneocean posted a comment   

"If Apple replaces Google services, users aren't likely to notice"
Really? I think they will. You have a lot of faith in replacements that are technically immature and untested in real world conditions (globally by millions of users simultaneously). Traditionally there hasn't been a very good track record of those things, even with Apple.

As for "developer loyalty" that is just one of a number of interpretations of the data. It's probably more likely that ios is easier to develop for, given the limited number of models, so it's a good first choice for any developer- if the app is a success and the demand is there they move farther afield. That's not "loyalty" so much as a good business strategy.

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