Universal control: 1 + 1 = more
Apple has introduced a new function called “Universal Control” with iOS and iPadOS 15, which will also be included in the new macOS version called Monterey. With this function, an iPad, iMac or MacBook can be operated with a single input device such as the mouse or trackpad. These devices only have to be connected to the same Apple ID via iCloud and are preferably next to each other.
In this case, for example, you can use the MacBook’s mouse to control the iPad and even transfer data from one device to another. Universal Control works with up to three Apple devices at the same time. So far, so good. A really handy feature you could say.
Google has long viewed Android as a means to an end. Now the ecosystem is missing.
Theoretically, of course, Google is able to offer such a function. Unfortunately, they lack a real ecosystem. Let’s briefly remember how and why Android became so successful in the first place and why Google of all people had nothing to do with smartphones until the announcement of Android.
Both the manufacturers of cell phones and the cell phone providers found themselves in this precarious position in 2008. The iPhone had achieved a veritable triumph in just one year of its existence, despite the fact that people like Steve Ballmer (former CEO of Microsoft) assumed it would fail. Apple had launched the most expensive phone to date with exclusive partnerships. Here in Germany, for example, Telekom had the exclusive iPhone distribution rights. Vodafone was the forgotten man from whom it suffered greatly and lost many business customers during this time.
Google entered the scene like a knight in shining armor. Shortly before, they bought the mobile operating system Android and offered it to smartphone manufacturers and telecom providers through the Open Handset Alliance, making it largely free of charge. Google made a brilliant move back then: practically overnight, it gave the search engine giant the opportunity to see an explosion on the mobile internet while leading the tireless efforts.
The 2010s were the hardware decade. Enter the decade of ecosystems now
Android has seen a meteoric rise that has been well documented and celebrated for an entire decade. At the end of 2017, 2.7 billion people were using Android, which was just over 88% of smartphones worldwide.
It was Google’s operating system that turned tiny Shenzhen-based corporations into global corporations that trumped each other with the latest hardware in a specification war, leaving Apple behind. Cupertino hasn’t been an innovator for a long time, especially when it comes to hardware, but it stayed in the game.
In the shadow of the competition for the highest megapixel numbers and fastest quick charging times, Apple continued to concentrate diligently on another area: the ecosystem. Yes, the iPhone may have a small market share compared to Android, but Apple is the world leader in wristwatches (wristwatches, not smartwatches) and tablets. Apple isn’t just in the top 5 when it comes to worldwide sales of notebooks and PCs.
Hardware will play a less important role this decade. Invisible computing is currently the keyword in which we no longer interact with specific devices, but with services. Whether we access data via voice assistant, smartwatch or television is irrelevant. Instead of investing in discreet devices, in the 5G age we will rely on ecosystems that are intelligent enough to perceive our needs and ideally meet them. Apple is now perfectly positioned to do just that.
Microsoft and Google: Two powerful tech giants in a stalemate
Of course, the shift to services isn’t breaking news. It is not for nothing that Microsoft is desperately trying to get back into the smartphone business with the Nokia takeover, but without success. Google slammed the door, using its power at every turn to block Microsoft.
Without a suitable API, the “YouTube app” on Windows Phone was nothing more than a desktop link to the YouTube website. Hell, you couldn’t even fast forward or rewind there when watching video. No wonder customers shied away despite the fantastic hardware on offer.
On the other hand, Google has been trying to make a living in the notebook market for years. Sure, Chromebooks have just overtaken macOS in terms of market share lately. But with the lightweight Chrome OS, the devices just aren’t powerful and varied enough to be any real competition.
The gain in market share results from the low starting price and the fact that many students have been looking for inexpensive notebooks for virtual lessons in recent months. One thing is certain: Google does not get any further.
Harmony OS: cement from China
The current situation between Google and China will only exacerbate this problem. It’s foreseeable that Android’s market share will shrink if you remove the world’s most populous country from the user base equation. Huawei and Honor will migrate (or have migrated) to Harmony OS for smartphones, and other Chinese manufacturers may soon follow suit due to fear or the current political situation between China and the US. In the end, Android will mainly remain as the operating system for Samsung devices.
How real is this dual threat from Apple and China? Very real, because the situation was visibly defined on the Google I / O. Google and Samsung decided to merge Wear OS and Tizen with a dash of Fitbit. Assuming that the market share between Wear OS manufacturers would remain constant from 2020, that would be around 35 to 40 percent, just ahead of Apple’s watchOS.
However, Huawei only holds an 11 percent stake in Wear OS, while the BBK group makes up another six and a half percent. Given the numbers, the collaboration between Google and Samsung is more of a forced marriage in the struggle for survival.
Price and market sentiment: a look into the crystal ball
“But Apple is way too expensive!” I can already hear you typing. Yes: Apple products have high entry prices. Even if the iPhone SE (2020) is already available for less than 399 US dollars from this year in selected cases, most iPhones are priced well above the average smartphone price in 2020, which is around 499 US dollars.
However, if you base the cost on depreciation rather than cost, the bottom line takes a very different turn. According to Bankmycell’s graphic above, Android smartphones that cost more than $ 700 lose 60 percent of their original value just 24 months after purchase.
Apple smartphones, on the other hand, only lose 35 percent. For an iPhone that costs $ 1,000, that means a depreciation of $ 125 per year after 24 months. However, a similarly expensive Android smartphone would lose $ 200 a year.
If you reverse the calculations, a $ 1,500 iPhone is still worth $ 975 after two years and would have depreciated by $ 525. A similar loss in value of US $ 525 over 24 months happens to an Android smartphone that initially cost “only” US $ 875.
Of course: You have to have the $ 1,500 first to be able to “experience” this scenario, in which “Why it is expensive to be poor” is a big topic in itself. But even if the aforementioned iPhone SE (2020) does not appear in the table due to its price, the cheapest Apple phone would most likely remain in the $ 200 to $ 250 segment after applying a similar calculation model for its depreciation.
Things are getting really tight for the Android upper class. What about the mid-range market?
Last but not least, there is also the question of which ecosystem one would like to invest in. Do I want to buy all kinds of apps and set up services for an ecosystem that may not exist in five years? Or would the situation have changed so much in the next half decade that it becomes untenable for me because my hardware is out of date and my data can no longer be protected?
In addition to the features already mentioned above, Apple also went the extra mile yesterday in terms of data protection – just to show me the future direction of Apple’s smartphones. In the US, you will soon even be able to save your driver’s license data in your Apple Wallet.
This data is then stored fully encrypted on a smartphone so that you can identify yourself regardless of your location. Hotel chains and smart home providers will soon also be able to rely on Apple technology for their security systems.
For my part, I protect my personal data, particularly sensitive data such as my door key or passport data, and am afraid to leave it to most manufacturers who still rely on Android today. What about you?
Apple has already answered this question. Google, Microsoft, Samsung and others: now it’s your turn!
This article was created with the help of my colleague Stefan Möllenhoff, whom I would like to thank for his great support.