As an experiment, I have put away my MacBook Pro, iPad and iPhone for the month of May and am instead using only Google hardware. In addition, I’m using only Google software and Google services.
This experiment has been amazingly easy so far. It has been easy in part because I was already a heavy user of core Google services like Google+, Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, YouTube, Chrome, Maps, Search and others. Since beginning my Google experiment, I’ve become an even heavier user of Docs, Now, Keep, Drive and others.
And it’s taught me something devastating about the difference between Apple and Google: I could live without Apple. But I would not be willing to live without Google.
The most significant of these differentiators, which the larger world will be slowly discovering over the next year, is Google Now.
Google Now is at the center of the great technology shift that’s happening right now, involving big data (Google Knowledge Base), speech recognition, text-to-speech, virtual assistant technology and wearable computing.
Yes, Apple has Siri. But Google Now is vastly superior—like the iPhone was superior to everything else in 2008.
Another killer differentiator is Google+.
Misguided critics will dismiss this idea. But that’s because they think Google+ is just Facebook with half the users.
The pre-visionary Google created stuff in a scattershot fashion, which resulted in a very wide range of disconnected services.
The visionary version of Google is integrating a few dozen strategic properties into one Super Google, a.k.a. Google+.
Google+, according to executives, is not the alternative to Facebook. It’s the future of Google.
Google+ has social networking as just one component. It’s also got Gmail, YouTube, Picasa, Search, Profiles, Hangouts, Maps, Latitude, Local, and many other existing properties, plus a ton of Google+ specific features like Events, Communities, Hangouts and others.
And Google is rapidly rolling out the ability for other companies to also integrate with Google+. In fact, much of Google’s developer conference, called Google I/O and taking place this week in San Francisco, will be about getting everybody to plug into the Google+ system.
In short, to use Google in the future is to use Google+. More to the point, the integration of all these services together will accelerate and magnify everything that’s useful and powerful about Google’s many services. The sheer gravitational pull of Google+ will make Google the sun in the technology solar system around which all others orbit.
Apple has nothing like this. Nobody does.
By the end of Google I/O, I believe the new direction for consumer technology will be clear. With the commoditization of products, the new focus of differentiation is on services.
In other words, the world is shifting in Google’s direction. When consumers choose products, they will increasingly choose them based on how well they connect to the services that really matter.
People might choose Android not because Android phones are better products, but because they do a better job of connecting to services. Likewise, people might choose Apple for the same reason—because they judge that Apple products do a better job connecting them to services.
It’s all about services. And that’s the house that Google built.