I used to mock Apple years ago because they advertised Apple as the fun alternative to stodgy, boring Windows.
The idea that Apple was fun and Microsoft was not was a misdirection at best. Windows was the biggest games platform and Xbox was the best console game (in my opinion). Apple had no games to speak of.
Five years ago, all that changed: Apple launched the iOS App Store, and it quickly became the biggest games platform ever, now making twice the money as portable game consoles. Apple’s App Store hit right when the casual and mobile games market was ready to take off in a big way.
The Android market is no slouch in the gaming arena, either, and will soon overtake the portable game console market as well.
But the mobile gaming market is still in its infancy. The Android gaming scene is about yesterday’s games — isolated, causal time-killing games, for the most part. So to take it to the next level, Google this week announced Google Play Games Services.
There are two gigantic opportunities that are potentially unique to Google: multi-device gaming and gaming as a mainstream spectator sport.
We learned a lot about Google Glass this week. In doing so, we also learned a lot about Google.
It’s tempting to look at Google’s vast range of products and research projects and conclude that the company has more ideas than vision. (The difference is that ideas tend to be disconnected, whereas vision involves a coherent strategic direction.)
Where is Google going? Does Google even know?
A closer look suggests that Google is, in fact, an increasingly visionary company. And the fate of many Google projects is predictable.
Some are predestined to die eventually in the hellfire of “spring cleaning” (Orkut), many will live on forever as useful, profitable but not centrally strategic products (Gmail) and others form the strategic centerpiece of Google’s longterm future (Google+).
The reason is that communication is where most of the online eyeballs are. And the network effect factor is overwhelming. (Network effect is: more users make a network more valuable to users, and users want to use networks that are more valuable.)
The carriers want everybody texting. It costs next to nothing to deliver text messages, but carriers can charge a lot and, for some reason, people pay. It’s free money, as far as the carriers are concerned.
Thousands of app makers want you to give up SMS and embrace some app-based communications system. Some work like texting. Others like an intercom system. Many of them are really great, but they’ve got an uphill battle getting everyone to embrace them.
Apple wants to get all OS X and iOS users messaging via iMessage.
Facebook wants to leverage Google’s Android to get everyone embracing Facebook Home.
And Google’s hatching a killer service based on Google+ called Babel. Allegedly.
The most likely prediction for Facebook’s project, code-named “Buffy,” is that it’s a modified, Facebook-centric version of Android on an HTC handset with a promise of other handsets — some insiders call it an “application layer.”
The dark horse contender is a Facebook-branded phone.
That’s great, right? Facebook has now friended Google and will join the growing family of Android-loving companies. Uh, right?
Wrong. Facebook is joining the club of Google’s enemies who are using Android to take business away from Google.
Both these products are examples of Android-based wearable computing devices.
A fresh new religious war has broken out on the social networks about whether the watch is better than the glasses, or whether smartphones are better than both the glasses and the watch. “Why would I wear an Android smartwatch when I have an Android phone in my pocket that’s much better?”
These arguments demonstrate that most people don’t get this technology at all.