Epic is right when it says Google has no incentive to woo iOS users away

Google Apps On iOS
Google Apps On iOS (Image credit: Michael Hicks / Android Central)

Epic Games has amended its lawsuit against Google saying that there is no incentive for the company to lure users away from iOS to Android. What originally started as a slap fight over in-app purchase fees from Fortnite revenue has evolved into a full-fledged courtroom drama between companies that, in my opinion, would be better served to hash things out in a way that doesn't hurt the end-users of either. But that ship has sailed, and here we are.

While Epic isn't shying away from hyperbole, which always makes for some good courtroom drama, saying that Google and Apple are best friends because of the Google Search app, it is correct when it says there is little or no incentive to peel users away from iOS. That's because Google makes just as much money from Apple fans as it does from Android fans when it comes to its core business.

Search is part of it, of course, and I'm not saying Google wouldn't rather have everyone in the world use one of the best Android phones. But Apple and Google are two very different companies that make money in two very different ways.

Apple and Google make money in very different ways.

Apple is a company that builds consumer electronic devices just like Samsung or Oppo. It sells those devices and makes a profit from each sale, again like Samsung or Oppo. For accessories like headphones or cables, that's the whole story. But for things that are a bit smarter, like a phone or a laptop or a TV box, Apple spends money to write software that makes them work. It tries to write software that's better than the competition so that you want to buy its products instead of something similar from the Samsungs and Oppos of the world. Apple does offer services like iCloud, but those are also incentives to make you want to buy its products.

Google does make a few devices of its own, but these are far from the company's money-makers. Google also produces Android, but it gives it away for free. Dell has to pay for a Windows license, but Motorola doesn't have to pay for Android. At least not with money.

Instead, Google gives Android away without the things that make it more usable, which are collectively known as Google's services. These are things like Google Play, Gmail, Google Photos, and the like. So if Motorola, for example, wants to use Android, it can, but if it wants to "license" Android, it has to agree to include a list of Google apps. And these apps are what Google really cares about because that's where it makes the bulk of its income.

When you're an ad company, you can actually make money by giving things away.

Yes, making money from free apps and services is a thing, just indirectly. Google is all about advertisements. Really, Google is essentially just one great big ad company. Yes, it makes incidental income through play store transaction fees or selling Nest Speakers, but Google is an advertiser at the end of the day. Not a phone maker. Not a software company. Not a game streaming company. It's an ad company that wants eyeballs on the internet above all else.

Apple and Google had a few years where it seemed the two companies were at odds with each other, but it's safe to say that the two are in cahoots and have been since the very beginning — the duopoly is real. The launch event for the first iPhone even had Google's Eric Schmidt on stage with Steve Jobs showing off the YouTube app. You could say that Google's success and Apple's success are very closely tied together. And they still are.

Fortnite on Android

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

Google has moved on from helping Apple build a YouTube app and now makes apps for all of its services available on iOS, where they are extremely popular. Because the services are so good, most people are willing to share data with Google to get them for free. Google takes that data and bolsters its ad platform, and it's like printing money after that.

Epic's lawyers are only diligent when they claim that sideloading on Android is too hard or that the contract Epic agreed to before Fortnite became the company's cash cow is now unfair. But when it says that Google helps Apple keep its customers happy and there is no incentive to get users to switch to Android. It's not wrong.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.

51 Comments
  • Apple has no incentives for me to switch to iOS.
  • Not at all the point. They are one of the richest companies on the planet because they don't want you - they want the customers they have. As Jerry said, the duopoly is real. It works for both of them.
  • I have no real incentive to buy into the Apple ecosystem (I have an iPhone) I see myself using Google products and devices in the long term exclusively. I'm over the Apple hype train.
  • 🎶Flip-flop flip-flop flip-flop goes the Beeeeno, flip-flop flip-flop flip-flop goes the Beeeeno... Weeee know that heeee knows he flip-floppeerinos, cuz he's Beeeeno, (all together: who's Beeeeno??) The flip-floppeerrrriiiiiiinoooooooo!!🎶
  • Not the point of the article. Neither Google nor Apple really care which you use. Apple caters to a specific market and is one of the world's richest companies for it. Both companies are very happy with the way things are.
  • Both companies want more users, why do you think Apple put a Move to iOS app on the Play Store? The same with Google with their online guide to moving to Android.
  • Actually, I think they DO have an incentive to get users off IOS. The billions they pay to be the default search on IOS could be renegotiated for a much nicer deal on Google's end if users start leaving IOS. 
  • They make way more than a Billion off ads. They are basically paying Apple for information. If Apple failed, something else would take it's place or at the very least they'd be split apart as a company. Neither company wants to change the status quo. In fact, Jerry thinks they built it on purpose. I don't think he's too far off.
  • Never said they aren't making back the $$ they pay apple I was saying if Apple has less users, Google could pay them less $$ and still make a ton off of them. Would give them more negotiation power if apple has 1 million customers versus 100 million. 
  • Dont use Google apps or services. Take away Googles power.
    Problem solved.
  • And then what?
  • More competition? I don't think it would hurt.
  • the competition is out there, go ahead, use Bing for search, use mapquest for navigation use hotmail for email etc. etc.
    There's a reason why most people choose Google Services.
  • I actually do use Bing maps, Duckduckgo for search, and
    outlook.com for my e-mail. Other than Android, there's not much Google I use and I don't feel shortchanged in the least.
  • Google is helpful and the competition isn't good enough, who are you to impose your anti Google agenda? People can use whatever they want, there's a reason why Google is so popular.
  • Lol "impose your anti-Google agenda" Chill a bit, dude.
  • Lol over the top as usual...
  • Who are you to impose your anti-Apple agenda ?
  • Oh FFS, you're like my sister, she does not like it when I'm critical of Apple and yes I'm anti Apple because if their business model and their restrictive and overpriced walled garden of products that don't allow you to do what you want. I have an iPhone but only really use it as a media player to my primary device, Android which offers me the freedom, flexibility and customisation (when I need it), I have the right to my opinion and most people on her share my opinion on scummy Apple.
  • Google is popular not because they are good, or the best, or anything like that. Google is popular because that's all there is...unless you like apples. You see, there's this mindset that because the majority use something that they must like it. The vast majority of Android phones now use a punch hole selfie...is it because people like punch holes in their screens...or is it because that is all that's available? When you have only two real choices...Android, or Apple...you're going to pick what you like best not because you necessarily "like" it, but because you feel you need a cell phone and everybody has to choose one-or-the-other!
  • It's actually down to preference and most people and myself included don't care if there's only Android and iPhone to choose from. People choose what they like the most and this is an Android site so most people will prefer Android over the inferior, restrictive, limited and locked down iPhone.
  • let's seee Bing, duckduck Go, hotmail, any calender app, tons of cloud storage apps , shall I keep going I can if you would like.
  • Don't care about all those "other browsers, especially bing which sucks balls.
  • my point was that Stan kub. said the only reason why Google apps are used is because there are no alternatives, and I just laid out a few. Which contradicts his point.
  • Google is popular because it is *free* and what most people used when they first started and are either 1. Too lazy to switch or 2. Don't know other options are out there. 
  • Bing is free, mapquest is free hotmail is free, duck duck go is free, Cloud storage apps are all priced fairly competitively. You point is moot.
  • Claim's to not use Google's apps or services as he comments on an android (owned by Google) site.... L O L.. 
  • How much would you be willing to spend in order for no online service to not sell your personal information and seriously respect your privacy?
  • This is a huge reason why people do like Apple.
  • Most people don't care about their privacy, I'm happy for Google to collect data from me as I trust them more than Apple, who are liars, yes I have an iPhone but it's just a media player, iPhones make brilliant media players but Android (preferably a Pixel) will always be my main OS and phone.
  • So you are trading in a Ferrari for a Ford pinto lol.
  • Honestly though, a pinto is a much better car for the vast majority of people.
  • I'd rather use something that I personally like that what everyone else is using, anyone who uses Samsung or Apple are just the same and following the crowd.
  • Honestly, it would largely be a fruitless effort for most Apple users. The more Apple devices people own, the more entrenched they are likely to be in the Apple system. I get it, people here think they have to hate Apple and iOS, it’s what they do, but the truth is that Apple has done some pretty cool things with their products.
  • Yeah like removing things like the headphone jack and now the charger, Apple is "cool" in ripping off people with their locked down and restrictive phones which are overpriced. I only have an iPhone because of my sister and I made a pact otherwise I'd sold my iPhone because I consider Android as my main platform now, especially since I deleted my original Apple ID when I sold my 6s Plus almost 4 years ago. People hate Apple on here because of their awful and anti consumer business practices along with the restrictions they put on iOS, iPhones still don't have multitasking or a proper file system.
  • Give it a rest dude. Good grief you need a life. You are all over the internet with your Apple hate. We get it. Nobody cares.
  • And yet here you are commenting on my post. Apple deserves all the hate, they get and I'm not the only one who despises Apple. Who are you to judge me on my dislike of Apple? That's the problem with society today, we all judge each other for my choices.
  • So when your beloved flavor of the week Google removes the charger from the box what are you going to do? Oh that's right switch to being infatuated with another phone maker. And don't act like Google doesn't overcharge for their pixel line. 
  • Nope I will stick with Google because they offer me what I want in a phone, clean, uncluttered and simple software that's easy to use and guaranteed updates with early access to the latest version of Android.
  • Sure fanboy... 
  • I just don’t understand what epic wants to achieve with this law suite. Do they want Google just to remove all services from the App Store? I used Android for many many years. Recently in the last year I jumped into the “walled garden” and still use google services (it was google app which showed me this article) just as much as before. I am not loyal to an OS and if Google does build it’s Own SOC then I probably will switch when my iPhone 12 Pro needs an upgrade.
  • Google apps are inferior on iOS, they work best on Android and Epic Games' lawsuit is mostly about allowing alternate App Stores on both iOS and Android along with getting both Google and Apple to drop their 30% fees they charge developers on what they earn from subscriptions and in app purchases.
  • Jerry. It is so refreshing to see someone from the Android camp actually say Google is an advertising company and not a tech company. Thank you.
  • This is NOT entirely true! There are many "advertising" companies that produce commercials of all sorts for TV and radio...but they do NOT produce any hardware devices, not do they produce the most used OS in the world! Google may make much, if not most, of their money through advertising, but they are most certainly a tech company first and foremost. That is how they started back with the early Google browser that put many other browsers out of business. Anyone here old enough to remember using Netscape Navigator? Google put them out of business not through advertising but through technology. They morphed into an advertising company because they found a way to make more money. Imagine if Gmail, Maps, Keep, and Android OS itself had a cost associated with it...monthly fees??? Nobody would be happy about that!
  • Yeah because all those engineer's hired at google are developing ad campaigns and commercials for companies and they have this very tine tech side to them. That's what an advertising company does, Are you kidding me? They generate revenue from ads just a like a TV Network does, a radio station , a newspaper and yes even this blog site. Generating revenue through ads off of the internet and search isn't the same orthodox model as it is for traditional media. Google created a new an innovative way that works with search. You people make my head hurt.
  • If you're not bothered about customisation, the ability to sideload apps, run emulators or plan on skinning your device to look like one in many ways an iPhone is actually a better Google phone than an Android device. It has mostly app parity with Google services with the useful additions of things like Apple Arcade, the lockscreen wallet, integration with Airpods and if you're looking for a tablet, something you might actually buy.
  • did you really say Apple arcade and airpods with a straight face? Apple arcade? Holy crap
  • I'm bothered about customisation alright, I'm just not obsessed about it like most of the Samsung fanboys and Google has the right balance for me and Google services work better with Android phones while their iOS versions are quite inferior, especially their YouTube app with no PIP and auto rotate in Landscape mode while browsing channels on YouTube but I'm fine with that as Apple does not deserve the best of Google, only Android users should have that privilege.
  • No, Google is a software /tech company that makes it's money off of advertising. That would be like saying because Android Central makes it's money off of ads that you guys aren't a tech site, you just happen to have tech articles but at the end of the day since your revenue is driven by ads then you are an ad company. all those employee's and engineers' employed at Google, aren't developing ad campaigns, or slogans for companies or negotiating air time on TV, or Radio for them ...... because that's what Advertising companies do. No they are developing AI, software, Operating Systems, and yes products they make laptops, phones , security cameras, home assistants etc. Google is a tech company that has learned to monetize ad revenue through a different medium , the internet, than traditional methods of magazines, Television and Radio. Which is been the standard picked up Facebook, so I guess Facebook isn't a social media platform since they gain all their money through advertising in a very similar model as Google does. I'm not sure why this is a such difficult concept to grasp. Ohhh i know because it's and easy ad hominin to throw at Google. * pun intended*
  • Google is both a software company and an ad company, yes they make more money from their as revenue model they're just as much a software company too with their apps and more importantly, the Android operating system.
  • Epic made multi billions of dollars last year alone. Right or wrong, this attempt of theirs to seem like they only care about fairness for the consumer just makes me hate them more and more every day.