The “defining fight of the computer industry”.
That is how Google boss Eric Schmidt last month described the “brutal competition” between his company and Apple, which he said benefits the entire world “at the billions of people level”.
Hyperbole perhaps, but there is no denying the intense rivalry between the search giant and the maker of the decade-defining iPod, iPad and iPhone, which kicked off when Google followed Apple into the smartphone market in 2007.
The heads of both companies have fired a volley of words back and forth over the years as they jockey for the number one spot in Silicon Valley.
In June, Apple CEO Tim Cook described the Android operating system as a “toxic hellstew of vulnerabilities”, and seemed to accuse Google of trading users’ private data for advertising dollars.
“We don’t monetise the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud, and we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you,” Mr Cook said.
Mr Schmidt fired back in kind, saying Apple doesn’t even know what his company actually does, and describing the iPhone 6 as a year out of date.
This war of words is entertaining, but the true test of each company’s mettle is the market.
Google will release the latest Nexus smartphone and tablet, a new Android TV, and an updated operating system called Android Lollipop, early on Friday morning (AEDT), effectively bringing the fight to the new suite of Apple products, including the iPhone 6.
The New Daily takes a look who is winning the fight for global tech supremacy.
By the numbers
If fitting in is important to you, Android would be your first pick.
In the second quarter of this year, 84.6 per cent of global smartphone shipments were Android, up from 80.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2013, Strategy Analytics reported.
These numbers are slightly misleading, however, because of the great many devices of varying quality that come loaded with the Android operating system.
Queensland University of Technology’s Dian Tjondronegoro, an expert in mobile computing, told The New Daily that Apple has a “very strong fan base” and that it makes more money per device from such things as app downloads than its competitor.
The fact that there are so many different Android devices means its fanboys and girls are spoiled for choice, but not necessarily for quality.
“Yes, Apple don’t have a lot of choices in terms of devices, but they are known for being reliable in terms of both their hardware and software,” Assoc Prof Tjondronegoro said.
Android is also usually the cheaper option. Its new phone, the Nexus 6, will reportedly start from $738, whereas the iPhone 6 starts from $1200 in Australia.
The price range is much closer for its new Nexus 9 tablet, which will reportedly start from $453, which is on par with the cheapest full-size iPad for $449.
“It’s true that their price is really high, but in terms of quality it is worth the price,” Assoc Prof Tjondronegoro said, but noted that if his work didn’t pay for the phone he would be hesitant to shell out that much himself.
Levels of malware
When Apple’s CEO said that Android is a “hellstew of vulnerabilities”, he was referring to viruses, which Android undoubtedly has more of than Apple.
Google explains this as a natural consequence of it being really, really, ridiculously more popular.
Apple used to be “very arrogant” about being almost virus-free, but has gone quiet on this claim and started taking security more seriously, which may suggest that more viruses are creeping in, Assoc Prof Tjondronegoro said.
Author of How Apps are Changing the World Stephen Molloy told The New Daily that the iTunes app store has better quality, and more, apps available sooner than Google Play, and is trusted by consumers.
Apple’s process of selecting apps is stricter, Mr Molloy said, whereas Google is “playing catch-up” – wanting to boost the total number of apps rather than concentrating on quality.
And yet it is “very unusual” to find an app available on Android that iTunes didn’t already have, he said. This is because apps are usually launched on iTunes first before they filter down to Android and other operating systems.
When Mr Molloy researched his book, the average time for a game to appear on Google Play was six months after it was launched on iTunes.
Leapfrog across your devices
All Apple devices talk to each other. Moving between your phone, tablet and computer can be almost seamless provided all of them are apple-branded.
Android devices are made by different companies – Motorola, Samsung and LG. The end result is a smoother transition between Apple devices, Mr Molloy said.
An analogy Mr Molloy uses in his book is that Apple is like an Aston Martin, for which every part is custom made, whereas Android is more like a Toyota, with the best parts from various manufacturers cobbled together.
But trust in Apple’s iCloud may have taken a serious hit in the wake of the nude celebrity scandal.
Apple has replaced Google with Bing as the default search engine on all its devices. But when was the last time you ‘Binged’ something? Enough said.