What if Google had never made Android: how would iOS 6 be different today, and who would be Apple's biggest competitor?

The title really does say it all -- if Google had never gone ahead with Android and, instead, if they'd maintained their close relationship with Apple, what would iOS 6 be like today? Would Google Maps still be there, and would it be as good as Google Maps on Android is? Would YouTube still be there, and be as good as YouTube on Android? What other services might have been integrated, GTalk instead of iMessage? Google sync instead of iCloud? Would the iPhone 5 ship with NFC-powered Google Wallet? Would the iPad mini come with 20 GB of free space on Google Drive? How far and how deeply could the Apple and Google love affair have gone?

And who would have taken Android's place as Apple's biggest competitor? Would webOS have gotten on Verizon sooner and enjoyed all the marketing that went instead to Droid? Would BlackBerry have kept more of its user base and gained more of the not-Apple share? Would Samsung have gone all-in on Windows Phone and be neck-in-neck with Nokia for the top spot? Would Facebook or Amazon have already rushed in to fill the void?

Put your imaginations to work and give me your best guess -- where would our iPhones and iPads, and the rest of the mobile industry be today if Google had never left Apple?

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Georgia

Senior Editor at iMore and a practicing therapist specializing in stress and anxiety. She speaks everywhere from conferences to corporations, co-host of Vector, Review, and Isometric podcasts, and should be followed on Twitter @Georgia_Dow.

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What if Google had never made Android: how would iOS 6 be different today, and who would be Apple's biggest competitor?

29 Comments

Without Android, iOS would have vastly bigger handset market share and slightly larger pad market share (due to Android's near total lack of iPad competitors.) And, ironically, Google would be making a lot more money too.

Google makes more money from iOS than they do from Android. Even now. Just imagine how much they would be making if they hadn't dumped Android onto the market...

um look at the facts you idiot... You really think apple would let google make more money by using ios ? Est tardus... Ignorance is bliss though so I guess that's why you live in your own little world

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What if Google had never made Android... Googlevil did never made Android... Georgia ... they bought it ... it was a Windows rip-off originally... that's why they can't make money from licensing it... like Mr.Soft does (YES ... from ANDROID !!!)

Why would you be so harsh and randomly jump and call someone an idiot for something they wrote. Perhaps you should seek counseling. It seems as though you have anger issues. This a tech website not a place to go and rip people apart. So many people on these websites love to get so tough and verbal over little things. It's easy through a computer when your not in someone's face. I never comment on these things but I guess your the straw that broke the camels back. Get people skills dude.

There has been some speculation that Google makes more from iOS users than Android users; for now, let's grant it as true, because ultimately it is irrelevant to Google's motivations here. Google acquired Android not as a profit center itself, but to defend its service and ad revenue streams against being shut off by somebody else controlling the device chokepoint as users shifted more from the web to mobile. In iOS6, this is exactly what is happened, so it seems Google was wise here.

You probably would argue that Apple never would have done this had Google not released Android, but you can never be sure, not to the level a multibillion dollar business requires. In the 90s, Power Computing never thought Apple would try to revoke their license (eventually buying all assets of the company outright), but they did, almost immediately after Jobs returned. In the 2000s, IBM and Motorola never thought Apple would never abandon the PowerPC architecture right up until the point Apple did. Apple had good reasons for turning their back on those partners, and that is the entire point -- good reasons can and do crush partners.

Apple's motivations were not Power's motivations, were not IBM's motivations, and are not Google's motivations. When interests diverge, Apple is going to do what is best for Apple, as they should. The business who, without leverage, depends on another business always having perfectly aligned interests eventually gets kicked in the teeth, in the case of Power Computing, fatally.

Android positioned Google to avoid that fate, and, from that standpoint, Mountain View has to consider it a success, despite the current pain of evictions from iOS.

iOS 6 will be pretty much the same perhaps still have Google Maps and Youtube. Palm/WebOS would be alive. Nokia would be more successful and perhaps still rock Meego Symbian or whatever they call it. RIM would still be a hot mess. Perhaps Windows Phones 7 would be more show cased on three headed monster of Samsung, HTC and Moto.

I doubt iOS6 would be what it is today. The things that Google put into Android have been strong influences to the direction of iOS for the last 3 versions.

Apple would be even more dominant. It's really hard to say about Palm. Carriers without the iphone were dying for a slab substitute. Palm refused that route going with their crap plastic qwerty kb Pre. Android makers (HTC, Moto & Samsung) eventually filled the void, first on Sprint with the Hero and then with Droid on Verizon. Palm had no chance and yet for some reason kept trying to make a go with revisions of their qwerty plastic disaster.

With no android to speak of? It's possible the carriers would have influenced Palm to give them a slab. Google would also have probably supported them better. Licensing webOS becomes a consideration (but this is palm..and nobrainers were often puzzles for them). Rain down on carriers with webOS devices of all sizes and all of a sudden, it's android all over.

I think without Android iOS would be similar but it would have taken a lot more time to gain the new features it got in newer releases.

As for the primary competitor... I guess Windows Phone?

If Android never existed, the iPhone would suffer. Without Android, it is possible ios6 would still have Google Maps (though the same issues over control and air supply would still exist), but iOS would have had a 4 year period with no credible competition, and that would have been far worse.

A riding-high Apple got complacent once, and it nearly killed them. The disappearance of Android would not have made Palm, RIM, Nokia, or Microsoft any less mistake prone since 2007 - they would have still floundered, so, without Android, Apple would have faced effectively zero outside competitive pressure for half a decade.

For all the conventional wisdom that Apple learned that lesson, and that Jobs would never allow it to happen *again*, it is human nature to relax when not under pressure for that length of time. Android has been the sole external point applying pressure upon Apple to stay hungry, which has been a net boon for ios development over the last few years, and, more importantly, has ensured complacency has had no option to take root in Apple's culture.

Very well put. And very cohesively written comment.
Competition makes companies to constantly push what is possible. Blackberry failed in this aspect, and they let complacency take root. BB had virtually no competition especially on enterprise until iOS and Android came along. They got to fat and forgot what it means to run

On September 12h, we'll find out whether Apple has become "complacent" or not. Rumors are one thing. Released products in Apple's case, are often another.

Palm once ruled the roost growing up from the PDA days, and their only real competition at the time was WinCE / WinMob, which sucked. And the Treo was a very decent handset.

I think that if there was no Android, that Palm's WebOS would be the one Apple competes against. Their biggest problem, which lead to their complete collapse, was that with the market saturated with iPhones and Androids, the carriers didn't push Palm hard enough to make the handsets people actually wanted. The WebOS is/was fantastic, it was simply hobbled by bad hardware design.

I played around with the Pre when it eventually got to Verizon and I thought its UI was very elegantly done, it was even more intuitive than iOS. It's just that the screen was too small, the hardware keyboard was too small AND recessed in such a way that it was hard for me to use the keys at the edges.

If WebOS came on a handset the size of the OG Droid or iPhone, with or without a sliding keyboard, I think it would have been a very good unit and the market share between Palm and Apple would be close.

Not exactly. The real issue for Palm seemed to be money. They didn't have enough of it to really do well by webOS or the Pre. They seemed to have cut corners on the first Pre they put on Sprint and other launch carriers because they didn't have enough money. That really hurt them and just caused a downward spiral of them not getting enough return to push the updates to webOS that were needed to bring it to a fully stable state.

Not so. Success begets success. Had Palm done well by Sprint, they could have gotten more money. Let's not blame Sprint anymore or the fact they launched a few carriers at first. Android did the same thing. Apple did the same thing. This was needed.

But let's focus on that Sprint launch being what it was. A failure. The launch started off great. The hype at the beginning was great. The product? Not so much. The hardware sucked. And webOS was too slow & buggy.

A premium slab form factor would have done wonders for people to accept webOS the way it was. This isn't hindsight. It was just as obvious then. Yet there was something about the Pre form factor that they should have continued with the idea as a niche phone to a main slab phone. The Pixi was all she wrote. I think I sold any stock I had when I heard about it.

You say money? Explain the Pixi. Explain the Veer when Palm DID get money via HP. The list goes on a mile long.

I didn't blame Sprint. If you had seen the issues, the QA issues, with the first Pre you'd understand what I was talking about.

We can only guess what HP let them use the money for but it seems HP only looked at phones as an after thought and was instead driving for tablet development.

this is it. palm was down, they came out with a product, but too many other people (Android) did at the same time, and without the money to go a couple of rounds it didn't last. I bet palm and M$ would be the major competitors.

Being like what everyone had become used to -iOS- droid was the os that took off. Blackberry's touchscreen was limited, clunky, didn't work, and was not for me.

Plus, I think people didn't like the BB network. not only did you have to deal with the cellular network, it could and did go down making your device useless even when you have service. Not to mention you had to double pay for data. Of course, you are paying as much now, but you are actually using more, and doing more. Imagine paying the more and the BB fee.

If Android had never been invented, I wouldn't hear as many friends bitch about how much they hate their Android phones. lol

You'd still here them complaining about their feature phone, BB, WinMo because, let's face it, the only bad Android phones are the cheap ones that are put out there as low hanging fruit.

Without Android IOS wouldn't have anything to follow. I spent 2 years with an iPhone 4. Its a great phone if you don't know what you're doing with a phone. Just turn it on and there it is. IOS 6 will finally have a few of the things Android has had for years. And not the good stuff.. It will finally get its own maps ( Which we all know will be crap to start out. I mean lets be honest. Nothing is ever great fresh off the line). It will finally get signatures on email. Etc etc.. Just as that is all coming out Android is continuing to move on to bigger and better things. Which of course Apple will follow the following year. Not bashing Apple. Its just the truth. Who knows. Even though I just switched back to a galaxy S3. When the new iPhone comes out it might be worth the cost to move back. But for now the iPhone is just following Android.

If Google does in fact make more money from iOS than Android, then it's no wonder that Apple removed Google Maps from iOS, but Apple can't bar every Google service from iOS because that would be anti-competitive and the Gov would come down on them for that. It's in Google's best interest for iOS use to continue to grow and unfortunately, Apple can't bar everything Google from iOS. So in a strange way, that makes them partners. How ironic.

When you take google off the OS side of things, that's effectively removing them. Yes, Google can live in the app store but millions won't go there.

did apple finally approve of the google voice app?
Will apple allow push to google apps?
I hope so. They will be the big bully if people can say my google apps are ruining my battery life. Especially if there battery life is lower with only the new OS. i.e. the app didn't drain the battery when it was integrated

Argh... I hate when I see android trolls on the daily android sites I visit, and same applies to Apple trolls here and on other Apple sites I visit daily. Trust me, many people are fully capable of being both Android fans "and" Apple fans. End rant here and I apologize if I come across as being harsh.

My background: Own two iMacs, Macbook Pro, iPad, iPod, and had every iPhone through the 3GS. So yes, I am huge Apple fan but made the jump to Android about 2 years ago and have no plans (unless Apple makes drastic changes to iOS) to go back to an iPhone.

Now to the question: IMHO iOS has improved greatly thanks to Android. Just look at the notification system we have now. While I can admit Android has been influenced by Apple nobody can deny Apple took their new notification system from Android. It's not as polished but it is still a great new feature (now I can only hope they also borrow Androids quick settings so I don't have to jailbreak my iPad and use SBSettings).

I also still say that Androids voice actions, voice search, etc. has been in place and fully functioning for years (in other words "before" siri). There are more influences Apple has incorporated but those are my main two...

I think we'd see a very different landscape, with Palm's webOS being the primary beneficiary. I think what people are forgetting is that while, yes, the Sprint Palm Pre was a bit of a disaster due to quality control, the Pre+ launched on Verizon less than a year later, and was the phone the Pre should have been. Verizon ordered a whole mess of them, and it looked great for Palm at that point. At the last minute before launch, Verizon fell in love with the Droid, and instead of throwing its marketing muscle into the Pre+, it did so with the Droid ... which launched the day before the Pre+. Verizon ended up sending a bunch of Pre+ units BACK to Palm because they didn't want to sell them anymore. If you went into the VZW stores around that time, you couldn't get a salesperson to even talk about webOS. They *only* wanted to sell Droids. IF that marketing and sales muscle had instead gone toward the Pre+, the phone would have sold much better. And, IF more Pre+ units would have sold, we would have seen more updated handsets and more variety in them. Palm (and later HP) were working on that slab phone with webOS. Palm didn't have the money to pull it off, and HP wasn't interested.