The silent war Apple vs Google – What it means for our mobiles


The three points of conflict between the two “titans” of technology

Tensions are escalating between Apple and its Google, as competition intensifies in the field of applications (apps) for smartphones. The “war” between the two Silicon Valley giants has been going on for nearly two decades, since Google acquired Android, which Steve Jobs called a “stolen product” that mimics Apple’s iOS software. Now, while the tone has died down, tensions continue in the background as Apple develops tools to differentiate itself from Google.

The first point of conflict is maps, where tensions first emerged in 2012. That’s when Apple launched Maps, competing directly with Google. Although it was thought to be a huge success, the app was initially highly problematic and the CEO himself, Tim Cook, apologized to users.

Apple Maps has improved significantly over the last decade. In fact, a new feature was recently announced, which allows companies to register their location online so they can more easily interact with users, post photos and make promotions. At the same time, the maps are connected to the payment application Apple Pay and with Business Chat, a chat tool with merchants.

This is a significant threat to Google Maps, as the app partners with Yelp to provide information and collect revenue from redirect and advertising fees.

The second point of conflict is search. Apple has been developing the Apple Search tool since around 2013, when it acquired Topsy Labs. This technology is used in the Siri voice control system, in-mobile search, and in the Spotlight search tool on Mac computers. In 2019, efforts were boosted by the acquisition of the artificial intelligence company Laserline, with the aim of providing high-quality information and a different approach to each topic.

Even if Apple succeeds in directly competing with Google in search, a different problem will arise: Google’s parent company, Alphabet, pays between 8 and 12 billion dollars per year to Apple, to be the default search engine on iOS. It is worth noting that if Apple establishes Apple Search on its devices it will benefit it in terms of personal data protection. On the contrary, in this case, it would deal a big blow to Google.

The third point of conflict may be the most critical: Apple’s ambitions in the digital advertising sector, from which Alphabet derives at least 80% of its revenue.

Last year, Apple posted a job posting looking for someone to design a tool aimed at advertisers. It was a sign that the company wants to create an innovative ad network that will change the way they are marketed to iPhone users while keeping their data safe. The position was filled last September by Keith Weisberg, who had experience at Google and YouTube, as well as Amazon’s advertising arm.

As Insider Intelligence analyst Andrew Lipsman told the Financial Times, Apple’s moves on all three fronts have made Alphabet’s position in iOS “more vulnerable than ever.” He added: “Apple is increasingly motivated to enter the search space as it develops its advertising arm. Search is the key to gathering data and is the new field for the future of digital advertising.”

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