Colin Nederkoorn

Who owns your data?

That’s the question I keep coming back to in the decisions I make, both personally and for Customer.io.

Data ownership is the crux of the decision to go with Apple or Google. iOS or Android. Gmail or … something else.

At a very basic level, it seems that if you go all Apple (and use their OS X server), then you can still own your data. If you go all Google, Google owns your data. It’s of course not quite that simple.

Increasingly across different verticals, both Apple and Google have competing products:

  • Chromebook vs. Macbook
  • Nexus 7 & 10 vs. iPad Mini and iPad Air
  • Nexus 5 vs. iPhone
  • Google Chromecast vs. Apple TV
  • Chrome vs. Safari
  • Google Hangouts vs. iMessage & Facetime
  • Google Now vs. Siri

The execution of the products are a direct reflection of the different strategies of the companies.

Two different business models

Apple is a hardware company. They write software and build services to sell you more hardware.

Apple is willing to give software and some services away for free in order to encourage people to buy their hardware.

Google is an advertising company. They write software and create hardware to get more data and increase the price they can charge for your eyeballs.

Google is willing to sell hardware at a loss (and give software and services away for free) in order to get those eyeballs.

Two different philosophies for making software

Apple started on the desktop making compiled software. That’s their preferred way to make software. They’re weaker than Google when making software for the web and services in the cloud.

Google started on the web. The software that they build tends to be for the browser rather than installed on an OS (with the exception of Chrome which is a browser, and Android). Their desktop software doesn’t have the fit and finish of Apple, but their strength is interoperability. You can log in to a strangers computer and have your mail, calendar, and contacts up in seconds.

What would your life be like if… ?

It’s really interesting how the values of these two companies leads them down different paths to solve problems for consumers.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to take a deep dive in to how Apple and Google handle different areas:

  • Phones - Nexus 5 vs. iPhone 4
  • Small business productivity (Google Apps vs. OS X Server)
  • Chromecast vs. Apple TV
  • Other interesting comparisons like Hangouts vs. Facetime + iMessage

Our devices are more connected than before. Our data lives across these devices and in the cloud. Who should own that data? Who should be able to access it and how should they be able to use it? What are the benefits and tradeoffs of putting your eggs in Apple’s basket, or Google’s.

I haven’t done a series of articles in this way. This topic seemed to big for one article and important to look at it in the context of each area and the big picture.

I’d love to hear from you. Do you see a storm brewing with Apple vs. Google?

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