Fourth Industrial Revolution

In this tech battle it's Apple and Microsoft vs Amazon and Google

The new Apple TV is displayed during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California, September 9, 2015.

Competing technology companies are taking different approaches when it comes to one key technology. Image: REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach

Matt Weinberger
Share:
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Fourth Industrial Revolution?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Fourth Industrial Revolution is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Fourth Industrial Revolution

By the end of 2015, it finally looked as if both had succeeded: The new Apple TV supports the Apple App Store, and Microsoft updated the Xbox One to run a version of the Windows 10 operating system.

And a report came out last week indicating that the Apple TV will soon be getting an upgrade that turns it into a smart Siri-powered home assistant, a lot like thesmash hit Amazon Echo.

In the past, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has said the Xbox One video game console will fill a similar role, starting with the arrival of Cortana in a forthcoming update.

It means that for once thelongtime frenemies have aligning philosophies: Microsoft and Apple see the television as the most desired real estate in the home. And if people want a voice-powered home assistant that can control their connected home appliances, that's where they will deliver it.

But Amazon and Google are going in an entirely different direction.

With the Amazon Echo and the recently announced Google Home assistant, these relatively newer companies are betting on something a little more ambient — a gadget that is always on and standing by, unlike a television, and that can be comfortably stashed anywhere with a power outlet. Amazon even sells mini, hockey-puck-size versions of the Echo so you can have one in every room.

This great philosophical divide, with Microsoft and Apple on one side and Amazon and Google on the other, seems to come from their histories.

Apple and Microsoft got their starts decades ago in the early days of the personal computer. For most of their histories, "computer" meant "mouse, keyboard, and monitor," in varying configurations.

It wasn't so very long ago that the television seemed like the most logical thing in which to incorporate a computer, given that it very often contains the largest screen in the home. And both Apple and Microsoft have strong existing investments in the software developer ecosystem and are already adept at enhancing the capabilities of something with a screen.

Amazon and Google rose to prominence in the early days of the internet era, when the network was far more important than any single computer. While each of them has dabbled in device manufacturing, Amazon and Google were made special in the first place by the intelligence they used to power their online services.

Apple and Microsoft are betting that people still want to make the television the center of their lives. Amazon and Google are trying to provide a little more intelligence, everywhere, with or without a screen.

Are Apple and Microsoft too old-fashioned? Or are Amazon and Google too avant-garde? With the whole voice-control-slash-conversational interface game still very much in its infancy, there's room for everybody to be right. But as we get more used to talking to our gadgets as if they're human, a shakeout seems inevitable.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Fourth Industrial RevolutionEmerging Technologies
Share:
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

South Korean nuclear fusion reactor sets new record, and other technology news you need to know

Sebastian Buckup

April 19, 2024

About Us

Events

Media

Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum