Why Google is seen as invulnerable and Apple as merely hard to kill

Why Google is seen as invulnerable and Apple as merely hard to kill

Though it may slowly be changing, Google has enjoyed incredibly good public and market sentiment for the last few years while Apple has seen itself beset by doomsayers. Horace Dediu has taken a crack at explaining just why that is, and why it might not be entirely bad for Apple. Asymco:

I suspect the absence of scrutiny comes from Google being seen as an analogy of the Internet itself. We don't question the survival of the Internet so we don't question the survival of Google — its backbone, its index, and its pervasive ads which, somehow, keep the lights on. We believe Google is infrastructure. We don't dwell on whether electric grids are vulnerable, or supplies of fuel, or the weather(!)

Apple is treated like a movie studio, where blockbusters are expected and perception holds they're only ever one flop away from oblivion. Google is treated like entertainment, where no matter the fortunes of any specific element, the thing itself has and always will endure. Until it doesn't.

Is perception really reality, however, or at a certain point does the string of successes Apple has put together, and the value they've created have to transcend the base fears of media and market? In other words, at what point is Apple itself successful enough that Wall Street and its journals start treating it the same as Amazon, Google, and other, less historically profitable businesses?

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Why Google is seen as invulnerable and Apple as merely hard to kill


I think it's because google is in more things when compared to apple. Apple needs those successes since it's main revenue is iPhones and with ever increasing competition one not so hot debut and they would really be in trouble. I also think this is why google can and does take more risks with various endeavors.

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I agree.

But it's kind of a act that Apple has placed themselves in, it's a good thing that it leaves the world behind it's every move yet kind of a concern if the device happens to be not up to standards of what people want.

Apple slowly take their time with releasing new products out to the market, I believe they understand the pressures they are in. With the upcoming iWatch and the mysterious iTV... Apple understand whatever they present has to change how people live. If it doesn't, why bother.

That's a good point. The only product/service that would cause them to implode would be if someone challenged them on their ad/search services which all of their other products are set up to support. I don't think there are currently any major contenders in that department that I'm aware of. All of the other products Google puts out can fail without much issue for them. On the other hand Apple has serious competition for most products they provide either by Microsoft, Google, Samsung, etc.

Yup, although it's fair to say you never see your obsolescence coming. Alta Vista certainly didn't see Google coming. Yahoo! survived Google, and Google has survived Facebook even better (though it did push them into social), but becoming infrastructure seems to be more confidence building then being the stuff that runs on it.

Agree and that's not something that will just happen over night. Google has such a head start in search that most others won't really or are unable to try and challenge google for search revenue.

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Google might be in more things but the bulk of their revenue and profits still come from advertising.

Exactly this -- "That Google is in more things compared to Apple."
And yes, one not so good product from Apple will get them a lot of flak although I don't think they would really be in that trouble for one mistake. Maybe 3 or 4, but I don't think that will happen.

I think Apple should go into more things that are products as well as services. I think they should buy tesla and get into cars, they should be a bank, they should be a credit card, they should get into smart appliances, camera's.

A few years ago they took away Apple Computer and became Apple. Well now they can actually be in other industries. There are many things that needs improving.

I cant stand car infotainment system. They arent smart enough. Electric cars are the future and Apple has the cash to get in on that. Household appliances arent smart and apple can get in on that.

It doesn't hurt to be a finance and bank powerhouse. Can you imagine if they subsidize their own phones and collect money from people instead of the telecoms. They can pay telecoms the full amount and collect the money from us. If its successful for telecoms then it can work for apple too.

And as a matter of fact they should slowly become a telecom as well. Start with their top markets and slowly get into other markets.

So are we basically saying is that 2014 is going to be Apple's "make or break" year?

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Most people and all of Wall Street have given up searching for truth; they settle for a decent fantasy.

Asymco usually has flawed commentary and this is no different. Take this for example:

"I suspect the absence of scrutiny comes from AOL being seen as an analogy of the Internet itself. We don’t question the survival of the Internet so we don’t question the survival of AOL — its backbone, its index, and its pervasive ads which, somehow, keep the lights on. We believe AOL is infrastructure. We don’t dwell on whether electric grids are vulnerable, or supplies of fuel, or the weather(!)"

Sounds ridiculous, yet at one point in history AOL was Google (just as Yahoo/Netscape was Google).

To me it seems that there has always been a strong belief of Apple to be beleaguered and their chief competitor propped up to demi-god status (at one point Microsoft was invulnerable, just as IBM was). It's as if some Apple fans like being the underdog but more likely due to the cult of personality that surrounds Apple.

Remember Alta Vista? Palm? Apple almost failed as well. Maybe the take away is that no one and nothing is forever, it's tough to see your obsolescence coming and avoid it, and that diversity really is the best thing for consumers?

I agree but it's also hard to kill any company (look at Blackberry, a company that has more doomsayers than fans). Apple though is in a very unique position than all those others failures in that they have a pile of cash (like Microsoft). Meaning if there is such a decline it will be slow just as we are seeing with Microsoft (inertia and all that).

Yeah, secondary+ businesses are good. Samsung could bankroll mobile on its appliances and dozens of other businesses until it took off. Palm and BlackBerry had no other businesses.

Google, like Amazon, are strong in markets that require slow, expensive, and public buildup. They are not invulnerable, but they the nature of their markets grant them lead time to react and diversify if their core businesses are threatened. (Which Google has done with Android, and perhaps with its robotics and automation efforts.)

Apple's strength, by contrast, is it's laser focus - which is also its vulnerability. It's fortunes are completely tied to a handful of products, in niches that have historically been vulnerable to surprise, wrenching disruption. That Apple has been the disruptor, and not the disruptee, in recent years is no guarantee the trend will continue. Just ask RIM, or Microsoft, or 1990s Apple, or IBM, or WANG...

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There is so much mistrust of Google right now (see Nest-purchase fallout) that Apple should capitalize on it.

Apple should just buy a search engine like DuckDuckGo that does not track users' searches and rebrand it as Apple's own search engine. They could market it as the "non-privacy invading search option" while integrating iCloud/iWork cloud services. People would flock to it in droves.

Disagree. Microsoft is trying that tactic with Outlook (Scroogle is reading your emails!) and as far as I can tell they're flushing money down the toilet.

Most people don't care. I'm one of them. I want the search engine that returns the best results and that's Google. And if most people did care there would be a successful alternative by now.

The problem there is that Microsoft, like Google, is doing ad-based business. Makes it more like the pot calling the kettle black.

Considering the number of articles akin to the one entitled, "Nest's Tony Fadell Keeps His Cool as Google Deal Brings Heat," the issue must resonate with many people (myself included).

As for Google versus DuckDuckGo, my experiences have been negligible in terms of results, which is why I felt comfortable switching to DuckDuckGo.

I love iOS' Maps, and it just keeps getting better.

Apple is so scrutinized that when they released Siri in beta, there was this collective outrage among many of the technorati that Apple would ever release something not 100% polished. Meanwhile, Gmail can sit in beta for years and nobody bats an eye.

Apple has admittedly had some hiccups rolling out services (see Forstall's walking papers), but so has Google (see Google Maps lawsuits and privacy violations). I believe when it comes to actual delivered products, Apple has the best track record in the industry.

I'm not sure it's as dramatic as all of that. Apple still sells the majority of smartphones. The issue with the "Apple is Doomed" philosophy stems more from the "pro-sumers" and tech enthusiasts. The average tech user has yet to become fully integrated with the technology they own, thus, Apple's mobile products work very well for them because they are simple, the UX is straightforward, and items that are often ancillary for techies (i.e.: camera) are actually quite good for the average user. When Apple introduces an 4.5" screen iPhone, with a file manager app and a more customizable home screen - no one will be saying Apple is doomed. Google just presents a more flexible software option at this point in time.

The underlying issue is apples success is contingent on hardware ie ipad/ iphone. Whereas googles success ubiquitously driven by software/ programs ie android/ YouTube. Hence the eminent doom forecasted with every product release. We will always search in the interment for videos yet we may not always use an ipad to watch the videos.

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More importantly, why again the Google x Apple dichotomy? Is the success of one dependent on the demise of the other, to merit such articles?

Google, has its specialty. Apple has its specialty. Google's is software. Apples is hardware. They could very well survive together. They do well apart now. Even if Google discontinued Android they could still survive. And until there's something that competes in ads and search, Google will continue to do great. Even without any other businesses. Apple could survive running on Google's backend. iCloud could go away and Apple would survive.

They can survive together.
And they have their specialties. Although, Google needs to better focus it's specialty.

Sent from a Starbucks in the middle of the Sahara desert.

"Is perception really reality?"
Posed to a society drooling at the tease of new "reality" TV that demoralizes society more & more?

I do like this additional perspective on Apple & Google.

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Rene, I am Canadian, so I do not comment online very much (it is a bit unlike our nature); however, I do read "tech" extensively, and I quite thoroughly enjoy iMore posts. I have finally chosen to post to one of your articles, for a very specific reason - not at all related to the content, but very specifically related to your ability to write. I am so totally delighted to regularly read your articles, because your writing abilities are very much "Canadian." That is to say that you are articulate, accurate and grammatically meticulous in your presentation - I assume these descriptions to be true, because I know that good writing does not happen accidentally. It is such a beautiful pleasure to read well written english in the environment of the so called "tech" world. Though most of the sources from which I read are written by people who enjoy writing about the topics they choose, there are probably only about 0.5% (that is one half of one percent - for other readers) who are able to write well, even though most of them are "journalists." I simply wish to thank you and compliment you - please let it go to your head for this day at least - for caring so very much about how you write, as well as about what you write, and for making a very small corner of the arena in which I do my online reading such a great pleasure to read.