An article by Benedict Evans on the fundamental differences in approach between Apple and Google. Apple is pushing for a smart device/dumb cloud while Google is pushing for a smart cloud/dumb device strategy.
Hence, WWDC was all about cloud as an enabler of rich native apps, while the most interesting parts of IO were about eroding the difference between apps and websites.
These two fundamental approaches lead to very different app capability. As how I see today, Apple’s applications are easier to use for individuals but harder for collaboration. Meanwhile, Google apps are harder to use but easier to collaborate. Think about this: I want to make a nice word processing document and I use Pages. It is smoother and feels easier to use. If I want to make a lesson plan that is also accessible by the management, I use Google Docs.
I do not agree with Evan’s view on Apple. We can see that Apple is upping its cloud approach, as can be seen from its recent implementations:
- iWork: adding online capabilities accessible by browser, with recent reset of native apps to same feature set as online version,
- iTunes U: adding of discussions.
Google however, is still very much sticking to its cloud approach. Apple may one day polish up its cloud facilities to similar standards as Google’s while Google will still not have much beachhead on native apps. When that happens, Google will face a major strategic loss.
The future would most probably be a mixture of both native apps and cloud apps working together in sync. HTML and CSS in its current incarnation would not be able to challenge native binary apps. Hardware device will always produce easier and more elegant applications than HTML/CSS, while online cloud servers have the Big Picture of data and can do data analysis. Only when both native apps and cloud servers are working together will we see a new computing era.