Apple vs. Google vs. Facebook vs. Amazon

The Lines Between Software and Hardware Continue to Blur

Four big technology fiefs—Apple Inc., AAPL +0.18%Amazon.com Inc., AMZN -0.06%Google Inc. GOOG -0.22%and Facebook Inc. FB -1.60%—have been creeping into each other's turf for years. In 2013, their war is set to escalate around two fronts: hardware and search.

Software giants including Google and Amazon are interested in ramping up hardware to boost customer loyalty and to extend control over their software services and the revenues that flow from them. That is heightening their collision course with Apple, which is responding by building more of its own software to make its devices stand out.

Google, with the $12.5 billion purchase of Motorola Mobility under its belt, plans to use the phone maker to release new Android devices to help knock Apple's iPhone off its perch. And Amazon, which has upped the ante in the tablet wars with the Kindle Fire, has also been testing its own phone.

Meanwhile, all four companies see search as a big opportunity for retaining and profiting off customers. While Google's paradigm of typing queries in a search box has prevailed for years, now its rivals want to undercut the Web-search giant through mobile search on smartphones and other devices, and a slew of search services that allow recommendations from friends.

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