Which Tech Giant Will Rule 2013: Apple or Google?

Which tech giant will rule 2013 -- Apple  (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) or Google  (NASDAQ: GOOGL  ) ?

This is actually one of life's simpler questions. The answer is Apple in 2013 -- as this will be the Year of Jony Ive -- and Google for at least half of 2014, as that will be the Year of Google Glass.

It was Benjamin Graham, a man who wouldn't touch a growth stock if his life depended on it, who once described the market as a short-term voting machine and a long-term weighing machine. I ask myself: "How will investors be voting?" That's impossible to know for sure, but ignoring an exogenous shock or Minsky Moment, the answer will likely be "Whichever way consumers are voting." And how will consumers vote?

With their eyes.

Jony Ive will give them plenty to see. Visual design is, after all, what Jony Ive excels at.

Fanboys who knock Tim Cook for being "so not Steve Jobs" ignore how responsive Apple's new CEO is to its customers. Steve Jobs may have acknowledged Apple Maps fiasco, but he would have gone to the electric chair before responding to it in public.

More important is Cook's nod to reviewer complaints about Apple's lack of innovation in its 2012 lineup. Scott Forstall out, Jony Ive in.

Ive assumes the throne
Cook crowned Jony Ive with Job's old role as head of both hardware
and software design, which makes 2013 the defining year of Ive's professional life. Every part of the iOS, every component, every shape and color will have Ive's personal stamp on it, and history will judge him either as Jobs' equal or as Jobs' employee. No matter what Ive may say about Zen in public; in private, he's going to aim as high as he can (to thwart Scott Forstall's skeumorphic design ethic, if nothing else).

Ive will have plenty of new Apple inventions to build on. According to PatentlyApple, Cupertino's engineers have been furiously perfecting a new 3D graphical user interface, as well as ramping up research on everything from haptic (touch feedback) technology to biometric security. It's worth noting that Apple was granted a flurry of new TV-related related patents in August.

However, not even Apple TV will be able to stop Google Glass in 2014.

Spectacular spectacles
Google Glass is, of course, Mountain View's 0.5-inch display inside of a pair of transparent glasses that responds to verbal commands and hand gestures in the user's field of vision. There's the Internet, games, email, cinema, video chat, Google Maps. If you can do it on a tablet, odds are you can do it on Google Glass. What OS will Google Glass be running? If your answer involves the word "Android," sugary junk food, and a subtle play on the word "glass" then you're probably very, very close.

With a manufacturer's suggested retail price of $1,499.99, Google's designers intend to either waste the iPhone and iPad simultaneously or go down as creators of the best-worst idea since the invention of the Segway.

So what's to keep Google Glass from becoming the sequel to a Bluetooth headset? It has to do with the fact that computers keep getting closer and closer to your face.

Fully automated computers have been around for a while, dating as far back as World War II. Mainframe design brought computers to the workplace. The PC brought computing to the home. The notebook brought computing to your lap. The iPhone brought computing to your hand and ears. Google Glass is designed for the eye.

Expect articles to start appearing about this time next year on financial sites promoting the "Google Glass is a Company Maker" investment thesis. If Google Glass succeeds, the media will be running stories titled "The Death of Apple?" about an hour after the first shipment sells out.

Expect that $1,499.99 price to come way down, too. You have to admire Google for what it is: The home of a lunatic band of technological geniuses who want to encode the whole world and sell it back to you at a discount, living to thwart Apple's lunatic band of technological geniuses who want to encode the whole world and sell it back to you at a premium.

Capitalism at its finest.

Still the Apple of your eye?
There's no doubt that Apple is at the center of technology's largest revolution ever, and that longtime shareholders have been handsomely rewarded with over 1,000% gains. However, there is a debate raging as to whether Apple remains a buy. The Motley Fool's senior technology analyst and managing bureau chief, Eric Bleeker, is prepared to fill you in on both reasons to buy and reasons to sell Apple, and what opportunities are left for the company (and more importantly, your portfolio) going forward. To get instant access to his latest thinking on Apple, simply click here now.


Read/Post Comments (9) | Recommend This Article (6)

Comments from our Foolish Readers

Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2012, at 9:14 PM, ascorbate1 wrote:

    Why would you not make mention of this:

    "While the recent sky diving stunt at the Google I/O conference showed us that Google Glass is indeed an exciting peek at the future of wearable computers, Apple's patent for such a device was actually filed way back in 2006." as noted at: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2406706,00.asp

    So Apple has likely been working on a head mounted computing device much longer than Google has... I'd put my money on Apple smashing Google's Glass!

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2012, at 9:29 PM, bsimpsen wrote:

    Have you had a face to face conversation with someone wearing Google Glasses yet? I found it spooky. We understand when someone diverts their gaze to a handheld device, even if we are annoyed by their lack of attention to us, but when the loss of eye contact hasn't any visible cause, it just feels wrong.

    Maybe we'll all learn to suppress the intuition that something's wrong with the other person?

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2012, at 9:30 PM, dwilh51183 wrote:

    I'D SAY BOTH COMPANIES WILL END UP BIG WINNERS, BUT THAT DOES NOT SURPRISE ME THAT APPLE ALREADY HAS THE PATENT ON THIS PRODUCT AND AS USUAL EVERYONE COPIES WHAT APPLE DOES, AND TRIES TO STEAL THEIR TECHNOLOGY. JUST ANOTHER CASE WHERE APPLE GET SCREWED BECAUSE OF THE LACK OF JUDGES WITH INTEGRITY.... LUCY KOH

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2012, at 9:32 PM, dwilh51183 wrote:

    I'd say both companies will end up big winners, but that does not surprise me that Apple already has the patent on this product, and as usual everyone copies what Apple does. Everyone tries to steal their technology this is just another case where Apple get screwed because of the lack of judges with integrity..... like Judge LUCY KOH

  • Report this Comment On December 19, 2012, at 10:31 PM, tychicum wrote:

    I can just guess what will happen when people try to drive on the highways with Google's glasses on. Yikes!

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2012, at 7:14 AM, RuggedGuy wrote:

    Since the introduction of the iPhone in January 2007, Apple stock is up about 450%, Google is up about 45%. This should tell us a little about which company is winning the smartphone wars from a financial perspective and which company has a disciplined, focused approach to their markets.

    Which company is maniacally dedicated to creating the best products and user experience in the world and which company still can't figure out what they want to be when they grow up?

    With a share of Google, you get: No dividend, no say in how the company is run, no ability to influence the board (Brin, Page, and Schmidt together have controlling interest). The situation begs the question why anyone would want to own a share of GOOG at a 33% premium to the market PE.

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2012, at 7:40 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    Bth, but really a stupid question. Just because Google bought a company that makes a phone does make them the same type of company as Apple. They may compete on a small level ,ut a comparison is just nuts.

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2012, at 7:43 AM, jdmeck wrote:

    Both, but really a stupid question. Just because Google bought a company that makes a phone does not make them the same type of company as Apple. They may compete on a small level ,but a comparison is just nuts.

  • Report this Comment On December 20, 2012, at 10:52 AM, pondee619 wrote:

    "Google Glass is, of course, Mountain View's 0.5-inch display inside of a pair of transparent glasses that responds to verbal commands and hand gestures in the user's field of vision. There's the Internet, games, email, cinema, video chat, Google Maps. If you can do it on a tablet, odds are you can do it on Google Glass"

    I wonder if this will make driving more or less dangerous.

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