Like the Wizard of Oz wanted to draw attention from Professor Marvel behind the curtain, Apple and Google want the public to pay attention to the competitive smartphone announcement events, where Apple owns most of the margins and Google owns most of the revenue.
But both companies really are deeply interested in competing for television viewers' attention and the massive revenue and opportunities that come with it.
It's just as hard to build a bad Android or iOS smartphone as it is to differentiate them from biannual phone announcements. Smartphone supply chains and component manufacturers are so efficient that Mark Zuckerberg bet $2 billion on hardware company Oculus because this production environment could finally build virtual reality devices efficiently.
Not only is it hard to build a bad smartphone given the high quality of the supply chain and components – according to Gartner's recent report, the phone market is expected grow at less than an anemic 3% annual rate.
Television media, however, has tremendous potential for both Apple and Google. Neither company is competing to replace the television networks, but rather they are competing for consumers' time by giving them the original content they want. And they are competing for the enormous $500 billion in advertising and content that is generated every year in this market.
Apple announced that its new Siri Remote user interface (UI) will use a simple voice-based search to find content and smooth, simple touch gestures to navigate Apple TV. Google may do the same at its event tomorrow, but with a new and more powerful Chromecast and a smartphone app with a UI that matches the Siri Remote. This Chromecast will likely have high-speed Wi-Fi capabilities that match the recently released high-speed 802.11 ac Google OnHub router.
Both companies want to be the top-level index with iTunes and Google Play, respectively, serving as the source where users go to find and watch TV content. Like Progressive Insurance's promise to quote the lowest-priced auto insurance from its website even if it's from a competitor, iTunes (and presumably Google Play ) will direct viewers to competitors like Hulu and Netflix when they search for specific content titles through Apple TV.
If you're interested in speculation about the amazing smartphones that Google will announce, Network World's Jon Gold wrote a roundup, and Android Police and 9to5 Google have informative stories as well.