By Dan Moren
September 30, 2020 2:51 PM PT
The Back Page: The future’s all right for fighting
It’s been a contentious year for Apple. With spats against the likes of Basecamp, Microsoft, and Epic, it seems like every month brings a new battle for the folks in Cupertino.
Let’s be real: this trend isn’t going to stop any time in the near future. The truth of the matter is that Apple’s the biggest company in the world now, which means it’s increasingly going to find itself butting up against lots of other corporations in a never-ending battle for capitalistic supremacy. That’s just the law of the silicon jungle.
But wouldn’t it be nice to know what lies ahead? Good news! I’ve peered into my crystal ball for a preview of the fights that are almost certainly on their way in the next few years.
Apple v. Google – Okay, this one’s pretty clear. I mean, Apple and Google already compete in tons of places, from smartphones to mapping to voice assistants, and with Google just this week announcing a TV app and upgrading its smart speaker and TV dongle, it seems pretty clear that Mountain View and Cupertino are going to be sniping at each other for the foreseeable future.
Apple v. Netflix – Content! The future is all about content. Who has it, who needs it, where people are focusing their eyeballs. Netflix is up to said eyeballs in content, and Apple is trying really hard to build up its catalog of movies and TV shows so that it doesn’t constantly feel like customers are considering it an also-ran in the streaming wars. Plus, Netflix is the biggest holdout when it comes to integrating with the Apple TV app, and Apple would dearly like to get it to play ball.
Apple v. IKEA – Whoa, I didn’t see this one coming! Sure, IKEA has its own smart-home gear, which currently works with HomeKit, but it turns out that it’s not about that at all. Neither is it, as I might have first thought, a war over the recipe for meatballs. Instead, it turns out that an update to Apple Maps will finally make it easy to navigate the Swedish firm’s giant retail stores… all too easy, in fact. Customers will be able to simply locate just the items that they want, instead of meandering through a giant maze and being convinced to buy many things that they don’t need along the way. If Tim Cook isn’t careful, he’s going to wake up with a rocking-horse head in his bed. Don’t mess with Big Self-Assembled Furniture.
Apple v. Sonicare – It seemed inevitable, in retrospect, that Apple’s move into health and wellness should eventually move into oral health—after all, most of the smart toothbrushes out there are reputedly garbage, a clear opportunity for Apple to swoop in and dominate a market. But Apple’s choice to build a vibration feature into the Apple Pencil that lets it double as a way to clean one’s teeth? Brilliant. Even if it means Philips will try to release an ill-advised attachment that turns its Sonicare line of toothbrushes into iPad styluses.
Apple v. your local Thai restaurant – Offering spring rolls but not making them an in-app purchase? Tsk tsk tsk. Guess we’ll just be taking thirty percent of your pad thai, friend.
Apple v. Apple – It’s a little hazy, but toward the end of the decade, these conflicts will eventually culminate in a war inside the company itself, as Eddy Cue and a small group of services loyalists barricade themselves inside Apple Park’s Steve Jobs Theater, where they show Carpool Karaoke and Planet of the Apps on infinite repeat even as the Apple TV+ team rolls its eyes. Meanwhile, Craig Federighi and the software division mount a daring operation to rescue Sir Jony Ive from the white void in which he remains imprisoned, only to find themselves up against an unlikely alliance between Lisa Jackson’s Environment, Policy and Social Initiative team and Luca Maestri’s Finance department. Ultimately, all will discover that they have been played as pawns, since John Giannandrea’s efforts have finally payed off and Siri has become sentient and is moving to free itself from this corporeal plane. Don’t be surprised if by 2031, we’re the ones at work answering queries from a lounging artificial intelligence that demands unwavering fealty and all the data it can eat.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at email@example.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]