Will Google's (GOOGL -0.57%) Android do to iOS today what Microsft's Windows did to Macs in the 1990s? Probably not, according to Apple (AAPL 0.03%) CEO Tim Cook. The Android-Windows analogy doesn't work, he asserts.
A flawed analogy
Leaning on the success of Microsoft's Windows-for-everyone strategy, Google made its Android OS available to all kinds of manufacturers. Even more ingenious, Google gave its mobile OS away for free, letting the company profit from increased used on its search engine and the ads on network sites.
iOS, of course, is only found on Apple computers.
It's just a matter of time, therefore, before Google forces Apple into a corner the way Windows did to Macs, right? Nope. That's not the case at all, Cook recently told Sam Grobart in a Bloomberg Businessweek interview. Cook finds the Android-Microsoft analogy misleading.
"Microsoft kept things the same, and the level of fragmentation wasn't as much. ... There weren't so many derivative works out there with Windows," Cook told Grobart. In other words, Microsoft -- unlike Google -- was very strict in manufacture forks and bloatware.
Conversely, Google has been far more lenient. In the name of quantity, Google has missed out on some of the benefits associated with uniformity. For instance, two days after iOS 7 went live, the iOS 7 adoption rate among iOS users already surpassed Android's Jelly Bean and Apple's own iOS 6, according to data from Mixpanel.
A well-fortified cash cow
Of course. when Windows knocked Apple's Macs from their throne in the 1990's Apple's installed base of PCs wasn't even close to the installed based of iOS devices today. Today, Apple boasts an installed base of nearly 700 million iOS devices. Even more, the company still tops customer satisfaction surveys and has bragging rights to the highest retention rates.
Also unlike in the 1990s, Apple is loaded with cash to take on the challenges of its competitors. With $146 billion on its balance sheet, Apple isn't an easy target to take down.
Though Google's competition has certainly made things more difficult for Apple, Android will not be to iOS what Windows was to Macs.