It’s a cutthroat, dog-eat-dog world in the realm of the smart phone. Microsoft has declared war on all smart phones and the bitter battle between Android and iOS fanboys is certainly not declining. Flame wars, cyber bulling, and every other possible online confrontation seems to take place when talking about phone operating systems. It’s a rare win when we can objectivity look at several events and identify innovation that came from a feud.
Android fans, don’t throw up your hands and start hating me yet! I love Android (and iOS) as much as you. I’m an apparent rare breed that thinks both platforms have a place and competition is a good thing to have. I aim to point out how competition between the two bitter rivals Apple and Google actually spurred innovation for maps apps on iOS. Google released turn-by-turn navigation LONG before Apple got upset over the lack of Google maps features on iOS. In fact Google went as far as saying “We will not put turn by turn navigation on iOS”. In this case Google put corporate interest first by releasing this feature only to Android and didn’t act in the interest open innovation.
Google had no reason to cave in to iOS users. There was no map competitor that was anywhere near as good as Google Maps, similar to the times when there was no real competitor to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Google seemed to be getting lazy when it came to its default installed apps on iOS. We also saw that the YouTube iOS app improved tenfold when Apple no longer gave Google the default advantage.
Let’s look at what happened, Google and Apple got into a little tiff, Google refused to improve Google maps for iOS and Apple said we’ll do it ourselves. Apple maps was a disaster, but it didn’t have to be good in order to complete its purpose. All Apple had to do was somehow bring turn by turn navigation and an improved maps experience to iOS. And it did… with the return of the Google Maps iOS app, which by the way Google says is actually better than the Android maps version.
Putting corporate interest first and withholding features from platforms to gain a competitive advantage is not an open mentality and in the end it will not work. If Google would have just continued to provide a universal experience across all its platforms it would still be the default maps application on iOS. In the end Apple users have turn by turn navigation and that’s all Apple wanted in the first place.