It’s become fashionable to label the competition between Apple and Google as a war. I see it in headlines and in the writings of myriad tech pundits and bloggers. And I agree with them. Whether it’s product development, cloud services, the courts, or advertising, Apple and Google seem locked in combat.
That’s one of the reasons WWDC was so interesting this year. The conference kicked off by previewing the next release of Mac OS X – Yosemite. And what was masked, in rapid-fire product announcements and demos, was a glimpse into Apple’s battle plans.
Mac OS X Yosemite was previewed at this week’s WWDC conference in San Francisco. At first glance, and without having tested it yet, it’s the most appealing Mac OS X release in several years.
If you haven’t heard about the Mac’s new features like HandOff for passing documents and tasks back and forth between your Mac and iOS device(s); making and taking phone calls on your Mac via your iPhone; Instant Hotspot; iCloud Drive; Markup in Mail; AirDrop or; SMS on your Mac, check out the first presentation after Tim Cook’s introduction at the keynote. It’s all about Mac OS X:
But it was the Mac’s new Spotlight search engine and what it means for Google that raised my eyebrows.
Spotlight, the search technology deeply embedded into Mac OS X and iOS, has been overhauled in Yosemite. It’s become far more powerful with both a new kick-ass interface, and access to a ton of new data sources. Spotlight was always one of the features that made a Mac such a great desktop computer. Now it’s a gotten whole lot better.
Carrying out a search on your Mac will go far beyond your hard drive. With Spotlight in OS X Yosemite, you get instant results from Wikipedia, Yelp, the iTunes Store, the App Store, Bing translations, Bing search results, Apple Maps, currency and unit conversion, theatre listings and more - all of it having nothing to do with Google.
From Apple’s announcement, it’s clear that Google will no longer be the default search engine for Macs and iOS devices going forward. To put that in context, Google will essentially be cut off from a large swath of Apple’s 80 million Mac users and 800 million iOS users.
Google isn’t just going to lose access to a mountain of data – In this case, that mountain happens to be the one most worth mining. Sticking with the geological metaphor: Apple’s mountain has more minerals, precious metals, gems, and rare Earth elements than all the others. In reality, Mac and iOS users constitute the wealthiest, biggest spending demographics in both the PC and mobile market. Considering 40% of Google’s mobile ad revenue comes from iOS, I don’t see how their bottom line won’t suffer from Apple’s latest move.
Microsoft and Apple make strange bedfellows. But as the saying goes: An enemy of my enemy is my friend. Before Steve Jobs died, he famously stated he’d go ‘thermonuclear‘ in a war against Google – a company that developed a stolen product [his words]. Google is utterly dependent on ads to the tune of 97% of its revenue. Tim Cook knows that and just like Steve Jobs, he seems quite willing to push the button.