It isn’t clear what started the war, but in the chaos of bombs and gunfire, all that matters is staying alive. Apple and Google have each been dancing in awkward, fan-sullying steps since the two decided to get phoney. The first awkward step may have been Apple’s insistence that Android phones forgo multitouch in order to protect the then-precious iPhone hegemony, but then again, no one knows who started the war which has hit both director’s boards. The second – forget the second; suffice it to say that both parties have been stepping on the other’s toes time and time again since the middle of this year. The party is over; Apple and Google’s romance, spurned by a mutual disrespect for Microsoft has decayed into uneasy competition. To make matters worse, Apple’s exclusivity with AT&T may finally be biting them in the apps: Verizon, a potential customer, have begun taking staking stabs at Apple’s iPhone. The carrier, in a vendetta against rival AT&T have the iPhone in their sites, shooting with nothing less than the powerful ammunition, Google Android.
Perhaps ‘me too’ is too harsh an evaluation for the large makers, Lenovo and Dell, two companies who are respective giants in the Windows world. Dell, like Apple, began its life in a garage and now is one of the largest corporations in the world and Lenovo, who took over for IBM in 2005, continue to produce high-quality notebooks and PC’s. So, the groundwork is laid; both companies are great PC makers – if you’re into that sort of thing. But when it comes to sex appeal – perhaps I should rephrase that – or lack of sex appeal, both companies would be better off burning their design books. Dell never shook the garage feel and carbon monoxide appearance from its company, which despite great sales, has yet to make anything which is universally sexy. Lenovo? Their largest shareholder at 27% is the government of China. Not saying that governments cannot be sexy, but the word alone sends shivers of grey down my spine.
Laugh if you will – the creator of the NOMAD hasn’t been competitive in the marketplace in the last handful of years, but this year may mark a turnaround for the beleaguered company. The Zii EGG represents the first significant engineering push which Creative have taken since their glory days around the turn of the millenium. On paper, the new player is an iPod touch killer, however, unlike other iPod touch killers, Creative haven’t betted the farm on hardware alone.
Their platform is based on Google’s Android – a platform which is destined to give the iDevice a run for its money. Creative cannot write software, standing on Google’s back, they may be be given a second chance at influencing the portable market.
Believe it or not, Google are pushing their own agenda; an agenda that speaks of the strength of the web as the best content distribution system. A strength that will usurp the current juggernaut, Apple’s App Store. It would be a misstep if Google, the undisputed leader on the internet, did not support what is largely, its playground.
Layar, an interesting app that allows the simultaneous use of the GPS, camera and digital compass in Android phones like the G1 to give real-time digital information about a location. While not yet a Star Trek Tricorder or scanner, this app is shiveringly enticing. Available as of 1 June, it is clearly only an Android release, but if we know anything of software designers, there will be the same sort of software on the iPhone 3GS before too long and possibly, even from the same company.
Google’s Android platform, open source and relatively new, is a force to be reckoned with. So is the iPhone and its App Store juggernaut. Both are based on *NIX operating systems that have desktop niches and conceivably could be ported to just about any hardware with a CPU (and conceivably, even the iPhone). Philosophically of course, they are very different. MacOS X’ roots are open source with the project called Darwin, but Apple are often about as community friendly as the RIAA. Google, ever the stealth operator, expand even into our streets without so much as a hissyfit (unless you live in the UK).
Today’s WWDC (World Wide Developer’s Conference 10 AM PST) will usher in a new wave of enthusiasm for Apple’s devices. Positive or not, charges will be set under both Apple’s faithful and its heretics alike. Last year saw the App Store’s maiden voyage and the launch of the iPhone 3G; 2008’s conference was one of the most historic and revolutionary events in Apple’s life. Now, with a mature Leopard in the innards of every Mac and the iDevice, they will need to do the impossible yet again: wow the ever-expectant crowd.