Mobile Technology

The enemy of Apple’s enemy is… Microsoft?

17th June 2013

For those of us who have been keeping track of the current mobile wars, it’s been a fairly simple picture. Apple and Google rule the roost, Apple gets all the profits, Google get all the customers, Microsoft and Blackberry bring up the rear, taking whatever scraps are left. Recently it’s been looking like Google have been only increasing their footprint in the mobile world, with Android going from strength to strength and Samsung becoming the next rising superpower in the market.

Apple have definitely noticed this, and they’re taking steps.

What steps? Well, as we all know the youtube app was unceremoniously booted from iOS a little while ago (before being brought back by popular demand), but one very interesting thing happened at WWDC. It was almost too quick to catch, but it was there if you were paying attention. Eddy Cue, one of Apple’s executives, during the demo for the iOS 7 version of Siri, stated that Apple’s voice activated assistant will be running through Bing rather than Google.

Looks like Google’s just been jilted and Apple has just jumped into bed with an old enemy.

It’s a strange role reversal from the 90’s where Apple had to essentially go cap in hand to Microsoft to stop them from from stopping support for the Mac version of Office, now Microsoft is the one who’s happy to take any kind of succour from Apple. What it does show is that Apple are as committed to ditching Google as they appeared to be when they got rid of the maps app (something they also regretted).

Apple and Samsung

In fact, Apple are having some bad luck in trying to ditch partners at the moment. They are trying to move away from Samsung after they had their own spat in court (which Apple won) but it seems that story isn’t over. It would appear that Apple can’t find a suitable replacement to the technology that Samsung can offer, which is a problem as the iPad Mini 2’s Retina screen needs to be made, and it looks like Samsung are the only ones who can do it.

It’s an interesting reflection on the state of the industry though, where the battle lines have been drawn and now alliances are being formed or broken depending on who can do what. It would seem that Apple is trying to at least coax Microsoft to help them in terms of services, something that Apple lags behind Google with, and the fact that they’re using them for Siri, a core iOS component, shows at least a little trust going on there.

Either that or they’ve backed themselves into a metaphorical wall by rejecting Google Apple are finding they’re rejecting one of the core parts of the internet these days. Whether that says more about Google or Apple isn’t entirely clear, but it will be interesting to see how Apple manage to make this situation work if they plan on continuing cutting ties with Android OEMs (of which there are many).

With the number of users of iOS though, what could happen is a slow marginalisation of Google searches due to people preferring to just say “search” rather than “Google”, it is easier after all. Could we see Apple slowly eating away at Google’s search monopoly?

Time will tell.

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