By contrast, Google has historically taken a much more open-door approach. Its now-defunct Google Labs page, for example, was a place where developers and intrepid users alike could test prototypes of cool new projects they were working on. Gmail started out there in 2004, and early versions of both Google Maps and Google Earth were also borne out of it.
Google's also not shy about floating big new ideas to the public -- even if it results in an embarrassing failure. Remember the nightmare that was Google Glass? Before a wide-scale release, Google tested the winds with a group of early users it called "explorers," who wore it around and gave feedback. The public backlash proved we weren't ready, so it pulled the plug. Similarly, Google recently floated its concept for a modular smartphone, but then cancelled it when it realized it would be too technically complex and costly to scale.
Google's willingness to adapt its vision to better serve consumers may be the No. 1 thing it has going for it in the war against Apple. The latest round of products from Cupertino felt like more of the same from a tech behemoth that is starting to feel stodgy and desperate. Google's push to develop transformational technologies isn't hampered by secrecy or some holier-than-thou company image. And for consumers in an increasingly crowded market, that's a breath of fresh air.