Yesterday, we reported that the $10 billion software company, Autodesk, will release their very own 3D printer, along with an open source platform for 3D printers called Spark. The platform, which may not be launched for months, has already been compared to Google’s Android, but only for 3D printers. All of this news brings us to the topic of whether or not other big technology firms like Google or Apple may ever enter the 3D printing market. Both companies are known for their innovation, and extreme forward thinking. That alone would hint at their possible entrances into the market in some way, shape, or form.
Trip Chowdhry, the Managing Director of Equity Research at Global Equities Research, thinks that both Apple and Google could enter the market, and even argues that Google may have been driven to do so after getting wind of Apple’s plans. Chowdhry said that Google may announce their plans either in June or October of this year, and followup with an actual device sometime in 2015
“It’s either Apple or Microsoft [who inspired Google],” Chowdhry told Benzinga.com. “But developers feel that Apple is probably the focus for Google because Google considers Apple to be its prime competitor, not Microsoft. And Google really sees Apple to be a strong competitor, not Microsoft, because Microsoft has a lot of issues to worry about.”
Last year Apple filed for several new patents related to 3D printing. Although skeptics will claim that these patents were for internal manufacturing methods, it’s anyone’s guess what they will be used for. The majority of the technology used within even some of the best consumer oriented 3D printers is open source. Because of this, a of lack patents that have been uncovered around the technology, is not a reason to doubt either company’s possible 3D printing aspirations.
Apple is known for making their own markets from new innovative technology, so if they were to enter the 3D printing space, they would likely do so with a bang, armed with ‘outside the box’ thinking. Google, on the other hand, has been known to throw money in all sorts of directions, whether it’s life extension, self-driving cars, or wearables. You can’t count them out of any market, especially ones which they may foresee Apple entering. Whether Chowdhry is right or not, there is no doubt that both companies have at least considered the possibilities within the rapidly expanding, consumer based, 3D printer market. Apple and Google have already helped turn around the struggling music industry with iTunes and the Google Play Store. Imagine what they could do for 3D models and digitally fabricated merchandise. An iTunes for nearly everything, could someday be a possibility.
Without a doubt, if Apple or Google entered the market, they would most likely sell a great deal of 3D printers, based on name recognition and branding power alone. This is particularly the case for Apple, who seems to attract die-hard users of their ‘iProducts’, more so than Google. If either of these companies can bring to market a product that is both affordable and innovative, the 3D printing space could see some major shifts in power.
Both companies have the cash to enter the market, but they need to hurry before the market for consumer based printers matures. What do you think of Chowdhry’s comments? Will either Apple, Google of both companies enter the 3D Printing space within the next year or two, and to what extent? Discuss Chowdhry’s comments at the Apple/Google 3D printing forum thread at 3DPB.com
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