When it comes to ecosystem depth and apps availability, Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) is in a privileged position versus its competitors. Applications and services built by the company are not available to the competition, but Apple still gets most of the apps built by other players. This is not only a reflection of strength, but also a big competitive advantage for Apple when it comes to the long term competition in the mobile business.
What´s Yours is Ours, and What’s Mine is Mine
When consumers buy an Apple product they get several specific apps and services, like Siri, iMessage, iWork, iPhoto and FaceTime, which aren’t available in other devices. Apple doesn´t share its toys with other companies, but competitors like Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) are much more friendly with the company founded by Steve Jobs.
Apple users have access to official Google apps like Maps, Search, and Gmail among many others. They can also download apps from Amazon, like several online shopping applications and the official Kindle app. Many applications from Microsoft, like SkyDrive and OneNote, for example, are also available for iOS users. There are some exceptions like Google Wallet and the official version of Microsoft Office which are not available for iOS, but for the most part Apple users get the best of both worlds when it comes to apps.
Needless to say, this is a big advantage for Apple: if you like FaceTime or Siri, then your only alternative is to stay with Apple to have access to them. On the other hand, if you are a fan of Google Maps or YouTube, you can still stay with Apple and enjoy the fantastic apps courtesy of Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG).
Different Business Models
One big reason why this happens is that these companies have different business models. While Apple sells integrated hardware and software, Google is a software company that has just recently entered hardware via its Motorola Mobility acquisition. What matters for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) is to make sure that everyone is using its services so the company can monetize them via advertising–that´s why the search engine builds high quality apps for Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL).
The same goes for Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN): it´s in the online retailer´s best interest to provide good high quality online shopping apps for Apple users so it can sell all kinds of products in IOS devices. Microsoft is in a more complex situation–although it’s trying to make inroads with its Windows phones and Windows 8 tablets, it´s a software company at heart, so it can´t keep its apps completely away from Apple users. In fact, there are strong rumors about an official Office app for iOS coming sometime soon.