Is the world big enough for both tech giants?
We've had tech long enough to know that as it improves two things happen, speed goes up and size goes down. We may be a little way off Williams Gibson’s cyberpunk dystopia yet, but until we get there... it's a safe bet our most powerful computers will be in our pockets.
The big question then is what are we going to do with all this portable processing? The race to miniaturize our lives has begun and it looks like there are only two players.
This is the age of data and we cannot underestimate the power it holds. People used to talk about data while they stroked their chins and looked down their nose at you through designer spectacles at marketing conferences. When people talk about data these days they do it in dark rooms and hushed voices.
The Data Difference
Depending to whom you speak, two forces are responsible for giving Donald Trump the US throne. The contenders are the Russian Government or Cambridge Analytics. Now the former may not have a huge impact on your online app shopping habits, but it might surprise you to discover how much influence the latter has.
As we fire headlong into the future everything we do will be sorted, collated and even bought and sold. That smartphone you're holding right now is a lot smarter than you think and let's be honest it's going to be one of two and whichever it is they are listening to you.... like REALLY listening.
Google and Apple have weaponized their digital assistants and their terms and conditions to make sure they have the power to understand as much about you as they can.
Every click, swipe, shift, tag and smiley face is a step closer to figuring you out. These smart devices, minicomputers, machine learning pocket AIs are not helping us... they are profiling us and that's bad news for anyone who wants in on the act. So to my point, if Cambridge Analytics did help swing the election for Donald Trump it did so because it had data. If you use Siri or OK Google or any of the other helpful built-in features and apps from Uncle Google or Auntie Apple you are giving them an advantage with which no start-up will be able to compete.
Adventures at the App Store
Sure, both Apple and even more so Google will tell you that they support third party app developers and that the iStore and the App Store are pillars of a collaborative economy, but the truth is we all know what's going to happen. We're going to run with the built-in apps and the ones that Google puts at the top of the list and the only ones they'll pick will be their own. Eventually, just like in the hit shows Game of Thrones and American Gods, developers will be forced into one camp or the other and the duopoly will grow to epic proportions until in season nine there's a huge showdown. The thing is it doesn't have to be like that. China has already shown us there's another way. The Chinese don't have App stores and iStores, they have app bazaars where everything and everyone are on the same page and at the same level.
The day's coming soon when the data gets too much, when we start to connect the conversations we're having with our friends and the adverts which pop up on Facebook. Then the legal boys will have to get crafty with their terms & conditions and we'll see where that leads.
There will also be the stand-out winners from the minor leagues. Those whose products and services are strong enough to make the grade with or without their A-list friends, but the holes in the net are getting smaller. It's unlikely many will get through without being picked out and pulled apart by one camp or the other.
Where is Player 3?
Another question you'd be wise to ask is where is Microsoft in all of this? You could argue Microsoft caused all of this and is still licking its wounds from when it dropped the ball a few years ago. However, there's been a few old faces popping up in the Windows Store of late which might give us a clue where they are heading. If you were in any doubt, however, the shock announcement last month that Apple is bringing iTunes to the Windows store should tell you all you need to know.