Here at CTOVision, we analyze disruptive technologies and follow trends happening in the government, enterprise, and consumer technology space. Yesterday I was reading reading about Google's new offering of a music service through the Android Market. I found it interesting that Google would do this, since they are so far behind in the game relative to Apple's iTunes and Amazon's music services. Then I started thinking about what this meant for consumers. Here is what I have come up with.
Technology services 5-10 years ago were very sparse and fragmented, especially when you think about Windows vs. the Mac OS. You either had one or the other. Then there were a few years where iPods blew up, and Mac brought out OSX, and there was a little more cooperation, but it was still difficult to seamlessly work between the separate devices. The last few years have been characterized, however, by a largely connected user experience, where almost any program is available for any OS and device. Windows works on Macs, iTunes is used on PCs, and when we talk mobile, most software is now written for both the Android Market and the App Store.
What I see coming in the next few years is another divergence of the systems, and a move toward consumers picking a team, and modeling their entire technological life around it. There will be three teams: Apple, Google, and Amazon. These are the winners. I will discuss the losers a little later. So here is the theory. Let's start by looking at the offerings of each.
Apple: OSX and iOS, iPod, Macbook series, iPhone, iTunes (music, movies, books), iCloud, iPad, the App Store, Apple TV, Ping, and maybe actual TVs next year. Oh, and Siri, the potential Google threat.
Google: Android OS (offered on a plethora of phones and tablets), search, Android Market (books, apps, movies, and now music), cloud services, Google +, Google TV, Chrome, Google Docs, Google Maps, and a recent acquisition of Motorola to help them make their own devices.
Amazon: Movies, music, TV, Books, shopping, cloud, Kindles.
So as you can see, Apple and Google, are essentially offering nearly the exact same products, but they compete directly with each other. Amazon is trying to get into the space, and has the most potential of any company to do so. The Kindle is still wildly popular and the Kindle Fire seems like it may have some traction as a tablet. Further, I don't think it is a stretch to see an acquisition or creation by Amazon of a phone making company, a social service, or create its own operating system.
So the next thing is where it goes from here. I think customers are forced to choose a company, and you buy every product that that company offers. For me, Apple has already done that to me. There isn't one product they make since the iPod that I don't own, and use regularly. I think all of the companies are moving toward this all-inclusive architecture approach, and the divide between them will be more pronounced than it was 10 years ago.
So now the losers. Research in Motion is already out, so we will just assume they go away, but they might be ripe for a merger or acquisition by Amazon. PC makers will lose: Dell, and HP specifically. Along with them, so will Microsoft, though they have the most potential to use their huge market capital to turn things on it head. Samsung is doing great in the phone market, but it will need to have other offerings in order to compete with the big three.
So what do you think? Will there be the big three and everyone else falls by the way side? Do you buy into the all-encompassing architecture notion? Or will everything become so interdependent that it won't matter at all which device or OS you have, they will all work together? It will be an interesting ride regardless. Post your comments below.
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