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The Sunday Morning Post-There's Apple and Then There's Everybody Else

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I don't get it. Or really, corporate boards and senior management don't get it. There's Apple. And then there's everybody else.

Apple is a different kind of company. They think different. They plan their products better and they execute better. It's that simple. They are product marketers first, and figure out which of their engineering marvels to bring out when and in what device. They are a consumer products company that up until their return to grace in the late 90s was only previously duplicated by Sony in winning the customer over. And even SONY which has since lost their luster, did so, not due to Apple's rise but due to internal in-fighting and the sheer size of the company.

Other companies and their executives are feeling the pain. They are feeling the pain because they want to be what Apple is, or really, want the customer Apple has. To take a word from the HBO series, "The Sopranos," ---forgetaboutit. It's not going to happen. 

Today, CNET's Brooks Crothers writes about why no one is lining up to purchase the Motorola Xoom, which like the iPad2, I own. One of the issues around the Xoom he points out is the lack of Honeycomb 3.0 apps, is correctly surmised in his post. The second is the lack of retail visibility and footprint. I'll go one step further, it's like everything sold in Verizon retail stores, you have to wait to learn about it. The Xoom is a great device, and Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) is a wonderful OS.

As a matter of fact, the battleground for Andorid isn't really against Apple, its Microsoft Windows. Crothers touches on this point and it needs to be amplified. Unfortunately, the media tends to want to play Apple vs. Google or vice versa, and the "fan boys" jump in and take sides. Seriously, Apple and Google are more complimentary than most people realize, and in Microsoft they have the common foe. In reality the foe that's being toppled isn't even Microsoft itself, but really their partners, who one by one are switching to Android, which in turn takes a customer away from MSFT.

Here's why...

If you are a heavy Google user, meaning you use Google Apps, Google Mail, Google Calendar, Google Talk, Google Voice, Google as your search engine, you'll love the Xoom. It's got real multi-tasking, just like a PC. You get your notifications, have your tray bar icons that tell you what's also going on (like when you receive new email, have an upcoming appointment, etc.) and it's all very much desktop or laptop like vs. the iPad which is really a content consumption device. It means you're eventually not going to be using Office, Outlook or Exchange. Or maybe you will be, and you'll be using anything but Windows as your OS.

Thus, just as Apple has carved out its own customer base by delivering a different experience to the world, and making that their marketing mantra, Android needs to do the same.

If I were the CEOs of Motorola and Google and asked what to do about Android Tablets I would not worry so much about Apple, and instead focus on taking the business away from Microsoft. The Xoom does just that, and while Windows 7 Mobile is showing improvements over previous versions of the OS, I would take advantage of the seamless Google experience, all or much of which is free. I would encourage a more wide open approach to apps (including VOIP over 3G/4G) by the carriers, and make the 3.0 OS the shining example of a tablet OS. 

All the while Apple will go along their merry way, with their fans, their loyalists and their customers. In the end both Google and Apple will take away customers, one by one, from Microsoft. 

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