Friend or Foe: How Apple Is Forcing Microsoft, Amazon, Google, and AT&T to Raise Their Game

1/21/10Follow @gthuang

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later this year. This sounds a lot like how Apple encourages developers and consumers to congregate at its iPhone app store.

Amazon’s strategy makes sense in light of the fact that Apple is slated to make a product announcement next week, widely rumored to be a new tablet computer that could be a formidable Kindle competitor, in that it could be very easy for consumers to use as a digital book reader. And as the Consumer Electronics Show demonstrated a couple weeks ago, laptops, netbooks, and e-book readers seem to be converging toward a merged device for entertainment that—largely because of the iPhone’s success—may well have a tablet-like form.

The Amazon news underscores the importance that tech companies are placing on challenging the monopoly of apps and users that Apple has amassed with its iPhone and iTunes app store. “The phone is shaping up to be a much stickier platform [than the Web],” Hall says. He thinks Google’s Android operating system and apps will “get there” in time, because of the platform’s openness, but Google’s phone, the Nexus One, has a lot of catching up to do.

As for Bing on the iPhone, it’s potentially a big deal, Hall says. And it’s not really about mobile search versus Web search. “These are all computers. What you’ve really got is a question of search market share via certain browsers,” he says. “This is a deal that would give someone else [Bing]… a huge growth vehicle from a search standpoint.” And where it could hit Google hardest would be location-based ad revenues.

Then again, some iPhone users clearly will not be happy if Bing is the default search engine and they can’t change it. Which might help Google’s Android gain some market share over the iPhone. And around and around we go.

Things were certainly simpler in the Mac vs. PC, Google vs. Microsoft days. But more competition is almost always good. Let’s hope Apple makes it all worth our while in the end.

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com. Follow @gthuang

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