Wednesday, Walter Isaacson weighed in on the current state of the tech industries. When asked by Andrew Ross Sorkin, "So, what's a bigger deal? Getting into China or Google, earlier this week, buying Nest?" This is a good question.
Isaacson's answer that, in his opinion, Google buying Nest is a bigger deal, appears to be news.
My question is: What makes Walter Isaacson anything more than an observer of the tech industries? Sure, he had access to Steve Jobs for long enough to write the authorized biography of Jobs that mesmerized many people including me. But, does that give him the insight into the industry that's necessary to make his opinion more newsworthy than someone who is doing a ton of research into the competitive positions of Google and Apple?
For those of you who are truly interested in understanding value of Apple getting into China, I recommend listening to Episode 107 of the Critical Path podcast. In it the co-host, an analyst named Horace Dediu, talks about the fact that Apple was permitted to bring its entire ecosystem into the Chinese market-- including iTunes, the iOS App Store, Apple's Maps application, and all of their other major services. This is not possible for Google, which is treated with great suspicion by the Chinese government and has been for some time.
There is no doubt in my mind that Nest is a strategic bet by Google on the Internet of Things and that this will be an important component in their strategy to provide services over the Internet that resonate with people who want to live an extremely connected life style.
But saying that Google acquiring Nest is more significant to the state of the tech industries than Apple executing on the delivery of iPhones to China Mobile customers doesn't make sense. To me, these two developments are each significant but aren't really comparable.