Google Inc (GOOG), Apple Inc. (AAPL) & Microsoft Corporation (MSFT): Software Services Are the Future, Not Devices

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)I recent got myself a Nexus 10 tablet, because I got tired of researching and writing on my desktop. I could have used a notebook but it just was not as comfortable. I am loving the Android system, and tablets really make it easy to focus on only writing. A computer is so distracting, because multiple windows beckon to me. The home key holds no such temptation.

Services and software

What I really like is that all my Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) services are integrated through my Gmail account. I know that the service is no longer unique, but myself and most people I know are most comfortable with Google’s services. Google is always expanding these services and offering new and innovative things. YouTube has evolved significantly as has the entire array of online Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) products, like its online productivity suite and services like Google Drive.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), like other companies I respect, such as Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT), tries to do something new. Google is leading the way with Google Glass and self-driving cars. Glass is an example of a device whose success will be tied to what services are available on it.

In my opinion, the iPhone’s success was driven by apps and not its hardware after the first generation, but I think Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has stagnated on the App front, and I see increasing complaints about some of the limitations Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) imposes on its Apps along with the approval process. If Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) has one flaw, I would say it is on the software and service side because its hardware and design is impeccable, though I will admit Siri shows promise.

Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG)’s strength is software and services, and it works with companies like Samsung or LG for hardware, which prevents hardware from becoming its Achilles heel. Every iteration of the iPhone is less of a technological marvel from a casual consumer’s point of view, while still being technical achievements. Nothing is hitting consumers quite like the move from candy bar or flip phones to the touch screen on the first iPhone. As time passes, iOS, while extremely user-friendly, feels extremely rigid and constraining. That is why I am making the switch to Android.

Innovation aside, advertising is the most important revenue source for Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). The cynical interpretation is that nothing else Google does has yielded any money. I know people that search Google even if they know the address, because it is easier. Advertising accounts for around 90% of revenue because so many people use Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG). It’s revenue has been increasing, so, I do not see the company making its money from advertising as a sign that Google should just stop trying to do new things. It just means that the original basis for the business is still a great one.

Recurring service billing

Companies need to try new things in order to keep from being obsolete. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) has not been confronted with this yet, but Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) faced some trying times with flash being excluded from the iPhone. Now, it is moving to a subscription model, which is a huge transition. The company is also ambitious about its goals regarding subscribers. Applications-as-a-service has become the norm, especially for the expensive applications that Adobe Systems Incorporated (NASDAQ:ADBE) has.

I really like the “as a service” model, because it really lowers some of the barriers to entry for people. Photoshop used to cost a lot, and if you wanted to start a photography business, whether it is a physical location, on the web, or just freelance. Now you can get started with the subscription. It lowers the upfront costs. The move to a subscription model means that the company will have a lot of its revenue deferred. The hope is that it will accumulate over time to show some great earnings. In the mean time, I think the revenue and EPS metrics will be misleading. When someone buys a year’s subscription, they pay upfront, but the company recognizes it over the year.