Two of the biggest, most successful companies in the world, both giants of the Internet, represent two very different approaches to business, technology, and innovation.
I find this fascinating. It proves there is no single company philosophy, approach or culture that is the best.
Apple is about style, must-have features and user interface. They take products that already exist - the personal computer, smart phone, tablet, mp3 player - and do them so much better than anyone else as to blow away the competition.
Steve Jobs has stated they don't do market research because they are doing things people don't know they will want. They are much about "bolt from the blue", viral-buzz-spreading, gotta-have-it technology.
The Mac, iPod, iPhone, IPad, iTunes - the story is repeated again and again. Great styling, brilliant marketing, intuitive and intelligent interface, features nobody knew they were missing - that is the Apple brand.
Google is all about engineering and iterative improvements. They don't come out with big splash products. They pick up where others left off and make them better, and better, and better until there is no comparison.
They are all about market research in the sense of test and measure. They test thousands of possible changes every year.
Only about one in 20 makes the grade. Many of the more than 400 changes Google makes in their search algorithms every year, are tiny.
But every year a few are big, as are a few of their new products, changes in user interfaces and features. and they add up and leave everyone else playing catchup.
You could say Google's ambition is to be boring. I mean, other than confirmed Google Watchers like me, who gets excited about something Google does? And yet most people use Google products every day, and in preference to the competition - whether that is YouTube for videos, Google Search, AdWords for click ads, Android for phones (which has now passed Apple for smart phone market share), or the fast-rising Chrome for browsers.
Two different approaches.
That itself is very interesting, but the reason they both work is the same: They both deliver superior value to the consumer.