Google is raking in the profits again, in fact it’s raking them in big time, really big time. Meanwhile, Yahoo is flirting once more, and on this occasion it has been looking all coy and endearing towards AOL. And yet, if the iPhone is the mobile phone equivalent of Venus, the Goddess of Love, with its sleek exterior and body you just have to touch, then presumably its potential nemesis must be from Mars. Yet it seems Mars is winning.
Do you think there’s something about the iPhone that triggers some kind of a hormone inside us? After all, you literally have to stroke it to turn it on, and maybe this tactile relationship we have with this phone leaves us with deep rooted feelings of love.
Maybe users of the iPhone subconsciously worship it, in much the same way the Greeks once worshiped Aphrodite and the Romans, Venus.
But if Apple is from Venus, maybe Google is from Mars. After all, the company whose CEO sat on the Apple board until quite recently, has declared war on Apple. With the rest of the Olympians, Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL, et al looking distinctly mortal.
Google revealed its latest set of results yesterday. And they were good. Net Q3 income came in at $2.2bn. Not bad when you consider that when the company was floated back in 2004 some investors slammed it for its absurd valuation, which at the time was for just over $25bn. In fact, if memory serves, even Father Time himself, the Sage of Omaha, or Warren Buffett as some might prefer to call him, said he thought it was a fabulous company with an even more fabulous valuation, meaning, don’t invest.
And yet, our Warren was wrong. He missed Google, and a lot of potential bucks in the process.
These days Google likes to think of itself as more than just a search engine company. Why, it has even invested into offshore wind farms. But its big product is Android.
It’s a little unfair to liken Android to Mars, after all, its control mechanism is tactile too, and its phones come in all sorts of sleek and wonderful shapes. But then again, Google is not really a phone maker at all. It produces the software, which in turn enables it to sell advertising. So, its core idea, of making money from search, is still present in the Android.
But what is a tad surprising is that sales of the Android operating system are expected to trash the sales of the iPhone operating system this year. In fact, in the smartphone market, only the Nokia Symbian operating system is expected to do better.
Mind you, it seems a little inappropriate to describe either the iPhone or Android as ‘smart’. When Aphrodite went out for the night and asked her Dad: “How do I look?”, Zeus is unlikely to have replied “Smart”. “Gorgeous” would have been a far more appropriate description.
But even the beautiful grow old. The immortal gods of Olympus withered in the end, losing their arms and developing nasty cracks on their faces. And that’s the problem with the Apple wonder products. For as long as the company can manage superb design, then it will remain tops. But its business model hinges on being brilliant.
Google, on the other hand, is more into cooperation and openness. If a few Android companies mess up, well, it doesn’t matter, there’s always the others. And Google sits there in the middle, making money from other companies designing brilliance. Its model will win out eventually. (Actually, you could say that Apple is from Mars, and Google, with its cooperation-based model, is from Venus.)
But poor old Yahoo. This the firm that once held shares in Google, in fact was an early backer.
Last year Microsoft wanted to buy it out. A mighty combination would Microsoft and Yahoo have been, too. Together they would have had a new Internet company fit to take on Google, but fully formed, like Athena bursting from the head of Zeus.
But Yahoo wasn’t interested, and now it’s left to AOL to make eyes at the firm. A merger between AOL and Yahoo is fraught with difficulties. Yahoo is tied into the Microsoft search engine, Bing; AOL into Google. But that is a trivial point. Add two negative numbers together, and you get a bigger negative, and that’s what wrong with these two merging.
Yahoo may illustrate the fundamental problem that could face Apple eventually. At first Yahoo struck it lucky and found the right product for the right time. The asset that the company built up was not substantial enough, and as the market moved on, it was left struggling to find the next big idea. Google, on the other hand, has created a product in the Android whose strength is defined by the number of companies that support it, just as Microsoft did with the PC. An asset like that may not make the company immortal, but will at least give it the elixir of longevity.
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