Persistently slamming one another, Bill Gates once almighty monopoly Microsoft had almost complete control over the personal computing market; that was the 1990’s, and its now 2014 - times have changed. Always criticizing one another and bashing the others operating systems (OS), Android vs iOS is now a war which is just as huge as Mac and Windows was only a decade ago. The rise of mobile, and the meteoric rise in popularity of Apple’s software as a viable alternative to the establishment, really rubbed a few people up the wrong way.
It has been the most important battle in technology since, well, technology became such an influential part of our lives. Early on it was Internet Explorer against Netscape which morphed into Google versus Yahoo which then became the conflict between Apple’s iphone and Google’s android - both battling for supremacy in the smartphone market.
In a mature market, people have become partisan and they choose sides. It’s almost like political warfare, with jabs being thrown on the street between Apple die hards and the message boards in the online realm being awash with tales of struggle, and what some might call it ‘trolling’.
So, they have long been effectively fighting for the hearts and the money of people across the world, but there has been a few recent developments in this tumultuous and rocky road. It has now moved into healthcare, but in what respect? Lets look at the new battle which is on the horizon and what might come from it.
The most recent battleAt the recent WWDC 2014 conference, it was again made very clear that Apple and Google are still not quite ready to kiss and make up. The next threat to come the way of Google was at their mobile search revenue. Most people still head to Google when looking to search through their web browser, and with this Google now offer more than just a search function, with Docs and Gmail. Apple clearly dont like this.
For Apple, this mean that Google results will be removed from Spotlight (their new versions of their operating systems) and replaced with Microsoft Bing. It’s not a total wipe out though because Safari will still see results from Google, but Apple are slowly reducing their reliance on Google. Android might have the largest market share but Apple generates more traffic - as mobile continues to grow, Google will need to adapt to the changing landscape of the platform if they wish to become the number one search engine.
They now cannot rely on any search engine traffic coming from Apple, but this was only the precursor to the new healthcare battle which followed.
The battle over healthcareGoogle have responded to the WWDC maneuver with an aggressive strike back, launching their ‘Google Fit’ feature. Their cloud-based health aggregator is due to launch at the forthcoming Google I/O conference and will allow multiple data inputs about the health, fitness and exercise routines of users - all being collected into one space for archiving and analysis before being sent back to the users device.
Developers have been working on Google Fit for some time now, so it’s not an immediate reaction to Apples HealthKit or Samsung’s SAMI which both offer similar features. It looks like the big mobile manufacturers have now settled on health being the next big battlefield after the smartphone wars which have been waging for some time.
The problem is that each system is pretty much the same, with identical chipsets, speeds and storage options as well as nigh on identical memory and storage. How do the major manufacturers convince users to buy their products, these numbers don’t mean anything to most users, other areas will need to be considered to ensure people are buying their products.
Its now all about user experience, and how the technologies can be utilised in real life. Not just the apps and how easy they are to use, it’s all about integration, and imagine how much this will be key when wearables become mainstream. Wearables, technology and fitness come hand in hand. Both Apple and Google are looking to sway users and capture them from the other, much like the smartphone war - and further integration through HealthKit or Google Fit could mean they have an elligence for a long time to come.
One worry is the collation of private data. People’s personal health is a very touchy subject and information will be extremely precious to them. Will users be happy with the silicon giants gathering data and information, and will they then be able to keep it safe?
In the United States, with the worries over health insurance and the political battle over Obamacare, these new health technologies could be providing a hole which as yet, has not been filled. Will Google and Apple then move into providing healthcare themselves? I mean, if they have your data, somebody, somewhere will be able to tell when you are suffering with a health issue or two.
For me, the real issue is trust. Once you have been reeled in and you are filtering health data back and forth between you and the tech provider, you’re hooked. Like a fish on a line, you can't really escape. On one hand, im excited about the development of wearables but the long war which is likely to ensue over healthcare and data might very well turn out to be a messy one, all be it a different type of war to that of 100 years ago, but nethertheless a war fit for a modern digital age.