Do you admire Apple? What about Google? If you had to choose between these two technology giants which one would you pick?
Many people, myself included, think Apple has done something that nobody has done before in tech industry. They have found a way to make a product evoke emotional response from their customers and there by have ushered in a new way of thinking about technology. One of the best illustrations of this fact is found in this image used by Steve Jobs during his WWDC presentation. The human touch can be found in every decision made regarding all aspects of their devices. By mixing Arts and Science together Apple has created this potent mix of emotionally irresistible hardware and software, that people are willing to put up with some of the annoying quirks in Apple’s products that don’t get fixed until the second or even third release.
Google, on the other hand, is the company that showed how to build a technology empire while offering almost all of its products for free. Google has this unique way of solving things that seem unsolvable. First it was web searches, then it was email, followed by office applications, maps and so on. All free and all awesome. Although there were a few stumbles like the Wave and Buzz, overall Google has the long track record of solving complex problems within technology and bringing the solutions to public domain.
In a lot of ways these two juggernauts are a similar in terms of expertise, uniqueness and being ubiquitous. But the central differentiating factor between the companies is their decision making process. While Apple has a singular decider in the company’s CEO, Steve Jobs, Google is a group focus machine.
While Apple spends millions, in both man hours and dollars, designing their product, Google takes a more conventional approach of building iteratively. Google uses what it calls “Creative Labs” where everything gets built out of continuous feedback from customers. This is very apparent in a lot of their works. We all remember the classic Google home page, in all of its ultra-minimal, wiped clean, page. Although the engineering complexity that lay beneath the user interface of any Google product exceeded the grasp of an average person, the outer layout is usually left barren. Things actually get a little complicated when you look at google docs and the complexity even led to the demise of great products like Wave.
For Apple, if something is not simple and elegant, its not worth making. The greatest advantage the company has over its competitors is the collective taste factor of its design team. Every detail of its hardware and software go through numerous and harsh design iterations before the product even makes it to second stage of development. And, of course, the man at the helm, Steve Jobs, goes through every detail before the product hits the market. He has great taste or “the eye” for visually pleasing design. I had always thought this as a big plus for Apple. Often you see products fail miserably when too many people have messed with them too many times. For Apple, the products can’t stray off target since, Steve Jobs has to sign-off on it. You can clearly see that there is a clear enforcement of features that are inline with the vision and direction that the founder has for the company’s products. One of his often quoted lines is that “ the consumers don’t know what they want. How could they? they have not seen it yet ”. That pretty much says how each company views its market. While Google waits for its customers to say what makes their products wonderful, Apple builds what it believes to be wonderful and gives it to people.
I read this line in The Newyork Times which I think says it best about these companies:
“Apple Is a Design Company With Engineers; Google Is an Engineering Company With Designers.”
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