There was a time, not that long ago, when Apple and Google could nearly be called friends. In a recent article on Ad Age, Danny Sullivan describes the partnerships the two companies shared, and it’s an interesting read. However, it looks like things are changing. Google launched the Droid, which competes with Apple’s iPhone. Google launched it’s own Internet browser, Chrome. Apple already had Safari. Google is the preferred search engine for both Safari and the iPhone. Or at least, Google was.
What’s next for the Apple and Google relationship?
Well, Google recently launched its own social network, Google Buzz (available through Gmail, Google’s email application), and rumor has it, Apple is hoping to launch its own social network, iGroups, through the iPhone.
What strikes me as particularly interesting when looking at these two brands is the disparate brand promises. Google promises first and foremost, the best search tool, and secondarily, a Web application or tool for everything you can image. True, Google isn’t there yet, but the company certainly seems to be moving in that direction.
On the other hand, Apple promises first and foremost, cool technology and gadgets, and secondarily … well, I can’t really think what Apple promises secondarily. Regardless, these two companies offer very different brand promises, but with the desire to expand their brands, they’re encroaching on each other’s territory.
And looming in the background trying to expand and steal market share of its own is Microsoft whose successful launch of its Bing search engine has drawn some attention back to the company that seemed to be missing the boat for a long time. Microsoft’s brand promise of delivering the software people need to do their jobs must seem too constraining these days.
In fact, the current environment between these companies seems to foster brand expansion, while most other industries are realizing the benefits of brand contraction and focus. This is an interesting competition to watch. Who will end up on top? Will one company take the lead or will the varied players each remain with their own niches of strength? One would expect the latter to hold true, but you never know with these three companies. What you expect to happen might not happen at all.
One thing is for certain. As Google, Apple, and Microsoft battle it out and redefine their brand promises in keeping with coming expansions, consumers are getting access to more useful and cool products faster than ever.
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