Google Just Challenged Apple and Amazon on Multiple Fronts

Google's  (NASDAQ: GOOG  ) (NASDAQ: GOOGL  )  recent I/O conference saw the company expand into new areas and it  released a slew of updates for traditional products, particularly Android software. The I/O conference is an important tool in creating the necessary buzz, and this year Google was quick to draw lines in the sand. This is good news for the continuing vitality of Google, but it also pits the company more directly against its rivals, particularly Apple  (NASDAQ: AAPL  ) and Amazon.com  (NASDAQ: AMZN  ) .

Health for the masses
Look out, Apple: This was a frequent message at the Google conference, which set the two companies even more at odds. Google Fit , in particular, is a new platform designed for use in a number of different fitness wearables, allowing people to unify their workout data in more innovative ways. If this sounds familiar, that's because Apple announced an identical service at its own conference this year, called HealthKit. Google is working with Adidas, Nike, and RunKeeper, while Apple has announced partnerships  with Mayo Clinic, Epic, FitBit, iHealth, Wahoo Fitness, and Nike (who appears to be working with both sides).

Apple stock moved from above $92 to around $91 in the aftermath of the Google conference, but investors do not seem that dismayed. On the contrary, some are looking forward to the expected September release of the iPhone 6  to give the stock a new boost. However, if Apple is preparing to make HealthKit an integral part of its latest hardware, be aware that it will have some serious competition on that front.

Moving ahead with car tech
One of the Android updates Google provided was Android Auto , a platform for car tech with a focus on voice controls, messaging, and Android apps. Spotify and Songza were both mentioned as current partners, and apps like Google Maps were given extra attention. Again, if this sounds familiar, that's because Apple recently announced its own version of the same product, called CarPlay , which does similar things with iPhone apps but without the voice commands or full operating system support.

In other words, if Apple was hoping to have this market to itself, Google has officially broken the bad news (and Microsoft has released a "Windows in the Car " demo of its own). It will be interesting to see which technology catches on first, and how much it will be influenced by brand preferences. Google's more flexible platform certainly has its advantages. Wired has an interesting piece comparing which companies have partnered with Android Auto vs. CarPlay thus far, and Android seems to have the lion's share.

To the TV
Android TV is trying to do with TVs what Android Auto is attempting with cars -- a new platform that can help users interact with the TV  from other Android devices like smartphones. The company is also including the ability to stream video games and play them via a controller. Google Play will be getting its own Android TV section by the end of 2014, and Google's work in this area may even lead to a new set-top box or next-generation Chromecast.

This brings to mind Amazon's set top box, Fire TV, which also includes a focus on games and the ability to stream content. Of course, Android TV is just software for now, while Fire TV is actually a media streamer, but they accomplish very similar things -- and Android users do not need to pay extra for the hardware. Remember, Amazon stock has fallen by around 20% this year as too-high valuation fears have been realized. Comparison to Google services could prove another reality check.

Fingers in the pies
While Apple and Amazon stood out as clear rivals after I/O, Google also set its sights on a number of other companies. Dropbox and Microsoft come to mind, with Google's updated version of Google Drive that offers new enterprise packages and features that render other cloud services less necessary. But the important takeaway here is that the tech giant is not afraid to continue its diversification into all areas of the industry. Big or small, tech companies should be ready for Google to start casting a shadow.

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  • Report this Comment On June 30, 2014, at 12:40 PM, chastenruin wrote:

    Is Google generating any profit from these new things? Nope, still dependent on ad revenue driving the business.

    The problem with the Android strategy and introducing new components to hook into it for different industry segments is it puts the onus of development on to the manufacturer which creates wildly varying product offerings that are buggy and not consistent. Google also makes no direct money from the use of this software.

    This leaves Apple to create a completely supported end to end solution with no conflicts and consistent operation across a huge and growing family of apps, services and multiple connected devices.

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