Apple introduced its Facetalk app in the computer App Store today, charging $0.99 for it's video chat platform. Google, meanwhile, is in the midst of a contest where users create video demos of the company's apps and users vote on the winners. Both companies continue to stride into overlapping territory with opposing philosophies. And the question is: Which is better?
The overlap between Google and Apple starts with smartphone technology. They have created more-or-less the only two operating systems that matter -- Apple's iPhone software and Google's Android. As consumption of the internet heads closer and closer to the app-driven model of mobile phones and tablets, the two companies look to be the most significant players in how information will be delivered to us in the future.
The philosophical divide between Apple and Google has to do with who pays. Google has always given everything away for free and charged advertisers for the right to reach their many users. Apple has done just the opposite, charging consumers up front.
Each has its advantages. Google's give-it-all-away approach means there is much more freedom and flexibility within its technology. You could also make a strong argument that Google has leapt ahead of the curve by focusing on what is possible rather than what is viable. Currently, the company is showcasing some of its more interesting features with a Demo Slam, where users create videos using Google's technology. There's some pretty mind-boggling possibility here, from Google Translate to its still-finicky image search.
Apple's relative conservatism means they're actually well behind Google in terms of technology development. Facetalk (which, remember, costs a dollar) is basically no different from Google's Video Chat, which has long been free to anyone with a Gmail account. You could argue this allows Apple to produce a more consistently effective product because they are much more careful about what gets out there (Google likely killed any of the awesome potential of Buzz by releasing it too soon, with too many ill-conceived functions and bugs). Generally, however, we find Google's apps better than Apple's.
Where Apple does have Google beat is in media. Google cannot compete with the iTunes store right now exactly because they generally don't charge for things. Apple has built a culture where people feel comfortable buying music and, increasingly, movies and TV shows, digitally. Google has recently stepped into the world of media delivery with Google TV. So far, it's limited to things you can already stream legally in one way or another (which is to say there's no great music options), but it does look promising.
We're talking about a future where anything you don't have to physically hold (like a song or a conversation or whatever) will be delivered through the internet -- moving to the cloud is something we will all be doing in the coming years. Google and Apple are both building online worlds, and it's still too early to know whether they can co-exist.