Does Apple Need Google?

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In an interview that Eric Schmidt did with The Economist, he made an analogy that Apple and Google are like two countries who are both in competition with each other, and who also recognize their relationship is imperative to their success.  Because of the unique dynamics at work, both companies benefit and prosper when you have strong competition working simultaneously with strong collaboration.  And when both Google and Apple benefit, consumers ultimately benefit from better, more useful technology in our lives at substantially lower prices.

Here’s a question for you – would you purchase an iPhone or iPad if Apple removed 100% of Google’s apps from the app store?  So that would mean no more YouTube, no more Google Maps, no more Google Earth, and perhaps most important you’d no longer have Google search integrated into Safari.  Speaking of Google search integration, this would also remove integration from both iOS and Macs.

Now before you go and start puffing up your Apple pride, let me put Google’s roll in iOS in perspective for you – basically, how important are Google apps to iPhone and iPad users?  Right now, Google’s new map app is #1 in the app store for free apps and Google’s new YouTube app is #3.  On the iPad, YouTube is #1, Gmail is #6, and Google Earth is #9 *.

What does all this mean?  It’s means that Google (GOOG) products are heavily integrated into Apple’s iOS.  Yes, the iPhone and iPad are extremely popular products and people are buying them worldwide at record breaking pace.  But we cannot ignore is the critical role that apps are playing in the utility of your iPhone and iPad.  And Google apps increase this utility perhaps more than any other apps on the market.

Apps are the cornerstone of any mobile device

You simply cannot expect any mobile device to be successful with a strong, open, and growing ecosystem of apps.  Look at Microsoft’s struggle so far to enter the tablet market.  Is it because their products are terrible?  I don’t this so.  The Surface tablet has received pretty good reviews from a performance perspective.  What Microsoft (MSFT) is lacking however is a strong ecosystem of apps.  Look also at Amazon and the success of their Kindle Fire, and now Kindle Fire HD, lineup of tablets.  Amazon understands the in order to have a successful tablet, you need a growing and thriving marketplace of apps.  Now I’m not the biggest fan of the fact that Amazon does not allow access to the Google Play store out of the box.  But Amazon’s app marketplace is one of the best on the market today, and because of this the Kindle Fire tablets are doing very well.

So does Apple need Google?

The question I asked at the beginning was, does Apple need Google?  And I believe that the only logical answer is yes, absolutely.  People aren’t buying the iPhone just because it’s an Apple product and they would anything that Apple sold.  Sure, these people exist.  But I do not believe for a minute that the scale of iPhone and iPad popularity is a function of Apple’s brand alone.  People are buying the iPhone and iPad to access amazing apps.  Remove Google apps from the iPhone and iPad, and you not only have a much different market for Apple products, but you also have an Apple stock price (NASDAQ:AAPL) that is far lower than the $509.79 price that closed on Friday.

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