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02/16/2010 Apple and Google

It's certainly been an exciting few weeks! First Apple reveals the iPad, the reverberations of which we're just starting to feel. Then Google launches Buzz. It's too bad you can't by futures on the number of words written about certain products or services. If you could have, you would've made a killing invested in the earned media of the iPad and Buzz.

I'm not going to write about those two products; you can read in-depth articles about them throughout the Web. But as I look at them, they reveal some significant differences in the approaches of the two companies that seemed determined to battle it out for the future of the digital experience.

Apple is the explorer, the discoverer. It looks to change paradigms and unlock new worlds. It doesn't want to simply make the world better; it wants to change the whole world. From the Mac to the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad, Apple creates things no one has successfully done before. It is a true trailblazing brand.

Google is the innovator. It makes things better, a lot better. Google didn't invent search, online maps, mobile phones or Twitter. Instead it took existing services and then made them so much better that they destroy the competition. Google reminds me of the old BASF tagline: "We don't make things; we make things work better."

With the iPad, we're stuck trying to guess whether it will be a game changer or not. With Buzz, we're trying to figure out if it really is better than Twitter and Facebook combined.  The iPad will introduce us to a new way of consuming media (primarily print). Buzz will give us a better way to keep on top our network's information flow.

Both Apple and Google need to show huge improvements over its competitors for people to prefer them. But you need to pay for Apple products, while you simply need to use Google services.

From a brand standpoint, both provide excellent models. Who do you model your brand after, the explorer or the innovator? Just remember that in both cases, incremental improvement won't get you very far.


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