Apple, Google, and different perspectives the future computing (featuring Stadia)
As an Apple Fan Boy – it was fascinating to watch Google’s Stadia presentation. Not because of the gaming platform, but because of what it implied for the future visions of computing at Google, and Apple.
**Stadia & Google’s High Level Mode (…compute as something we rent)**
Stadia, to be brief, leverages the notion that computing will be centralized, and the heavy lifting will be done on the edge of the cloud. The results will be delivered over high performance networks to simple, low power and low cost devices.
High level, this isn’t really that different from setups in the 90’s where many dumb terminals connected a more centralized, compute robust machines.
**According to Google’s pitch**, this helps solve many traditional issues related to gaming today:
* **Latency / Game State:** By managing game state on the server side, the hardware can resolve many traditionally difficult issues with peer to peer communication, like latency or shady DDOS attacks
* **Easy Device Support:** Developers don’t have to worry about supporting 31 flavors of devices, each with different specs. One size fits all can literally be supported across multiple devices and platforms
* **No Cheats:** If the logic runs in the cloud, it’s a lot more difficult for someone to use extensions or hacks to “cheat” in game. This approach keeps the “how” firmly hidden from the consumer
* **Low Friction to Use:** Remember when you downloaded Read Dead Redemption 2, and it took… a bit? Now there are no “size” limitations. The games are literally click and go
* **Skipping…the Other goodies:** Lots of other interesting bits, but for this “future of computing” comparison, let’s gloss past them
**How is this model a winner for Google?** (Forget gaming… think computing in general)
* **High Barrier to Entry for Competition:** Building this infrastructure out, across the world, is a feat that very few company’s will be able to afford. This makes it very difficult for an upstart company to come in and displace Google, once established
* **Low Barrier to Entry for Consumers:** No “PS4” sized investment required to get started. The support for low cost devices make it simple for a consumer to spend next to nothing and receive an amazing experience. Imagine, if your device can support YouTube, you’re already set. (!)
* **Consistent Revenue from Edge Computing:** Once established, there’s no reason to think that this compute power would be limited to gaming. It would be applicable to all services, including Augmented Reality processing. (more on this in a bit)
* **Access to all the Data:** If all the work is done in the cloud, all the data has to be in the cloud. Google loves their data
* **Anti-Device / Hardware Upgrade Cycles:** This business model makes it very difficult for another company, say Apple, who wants to sell the expensive $1k hardware device
**Apple’s Compute View (…compute is something you buy, own)**
Apple appears to be going in the other direction, embracing a decentralized world where the consumer owns the computing power. The result is that each device is equipped with the compute power to work independently. In this model, the consumer owns the computing, and isn’t leasing it from a centralized provider.
We can see this in the Mac, iPhone, and iPad product lines: Each has massive compute capabilities built in, and leverages the buy-to-own model.
**How is this model a winner for Apple?**
* **Promotes Data Privacy:** The data stays with you. Apple’s business model doesn’t need to violate anyone’s privacy. To many consumers, this is a huge value-add
* **Fixed Cost:** Many consumers prefer knowing what something will cost ahead of time, and don’t want to get “nickle and dime’d” as they go. Owning the device conforms more towards this expectation
* **No/Low Network Dependency:** Many users will appreciate that their current network solutions are poor, and they don’t trust them to deliver even streamed data at 4k / 60fps, much less low latency gaming data
* **People like to Own Things:** People like to own and collect “stuff”. You can do that more easily with devices
* **Luxury Brand:** People like to try and differentiate themselves. Part of why people like products from Apple is because they are more expensive, and not easily accessible
Both are compelling. No doubt.
**Let’s consider AR processing in the near future:**
Let’s assume that Augmented Reality (AR) is a major feature going forward.
You need to install a sink? AR walks you through the steps. Fix a car? AR to the rescue. Learn to paint? Again… put on those AR goggles, and a computer can see what you see, and provide a walk through of what to do, and how to react to the current situation.
But how to power this experience?
If you’re Apple, your iPhone does the heavy lifting. If your Google, it’s the compute in the Clouds Edge.
**TLDR:** Google wants to push computing into the edge of the cloud and charge rent. Apple wants you to buy their compute product, and keep that power in your pocket.