There’s been a statement going around for a while that says Google is getting better at design faster than Apple is getting better at services. To which I reply, duh! Google bought a hardware company! I’d hope they are getting better at design.
The shape of the mobile market has changed since that day when Google acquired Motorola. Yes, Motorola is still a separate company but all the same I’m certain the experiences and expertises have leached into Google. Since then, the Nexus devices and Chromebook devices have only gotten nicer. I have a Nexus 7 tablet here and can honestly say that it is by far the nicest of the Android tablets that I’ve played with.
Meanwhile, Apple continues to struggle with services. MobileMe became iCloud and still there are endless problems in making them work correctly. Ping came and went. Now Apple’s maps has received plenty of criticism. Four years ago I watched a small Oregon company, Urban Airship, come about. Urban’s business was to make notifications really simple.
My colleagues and I never thought the service would take off not because we thought Urban Airship wasn’t doing something useful but because we thought Apple would provide the service. After all it is one thing to provide the operating system hooks and another completely to make it easy to use. Apple never did it and Urban Airship is now approaching 100 employees on two continents.
Will Apple get better at services? I’m certain Apple can be good at whatever it turns its attention to. But I know Google has gotten better at design, and a big part of the reason is because Google recognized it needed the expertise, went out and acquired it.