NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- What do you say when one restaurant charges $6 for a Coca-Cola, while the one next door charges $2? I call that a rip-off.Lately, Google ( GOOG) has exposed Apple ( AAPL) as the company charging you $6 for a Coke every step of the way. Let's count the ways: 1. Device storage. When you buy an iPad or iPhone, you have to pay $100 extra to go from 16 gig storage to 32 gig. How much does Google charge for the same storage bump in their equivalent devices? The Nexus 7 is $40 more for 32 gig vs. 16 gig. The Motorola X is $50 more for the same. In other words, Google is between 50% and 60% cheaper than Apple for the exact same thing. 2. LTE on the tablet. Apple charges $130 extra for LTE on the iPad. Google charges $80 more. That's 38% less. But wait, there's more! Google's LTE version -- on the Nexus 7 - is a single SKU that enables you to switch between LTE on AT&T ( T), Verizon ( VZ)and T-Mobile ( TMUS), simply by swapping your pre-paid SIM card. With Apple, if you buy an iPad on Verizon, you can only get LTE on Verizon, and so forth with a separate version for AT&T, etc. You get the point - the iPad locks you to LTE on only one of the U.S. carriers. 3. Cell phone service pricing. If you want a reasonable package from AT&T or Verizon, you pay $90 a month for voice, data and SMS. Same thing with Android. You can get less expensive service with T-Mobile and Sprint ( S), knocking off approximately $20 a month in comparisons that are not 100% oranges vs. oranges, but close enough. Same thing with Android. So far, so good -- for Apple. But then we go to even lower tiers: With Republic Wireless -- which works on Sprint -- you can get unlimited service for $19 a month. You have to buy an Android phone for $259 up-front. iPhone? No. With FreedomPop -- which also works on Sprint -- you can get limited service for FREE per month. Just buy Android smartphone up-front. iPhone? No.
The point here is that Apple currently doesn't participate in the market's least expensive offerings. Perhaps it will, some day. But today, it doesn't. You want the least expensive smartphone service available in the U.S. TODAY? It's Android. 4. Cloud storage. This one isn't even close. Just for opening an account, Google gives you 15 gig for free. Apple gives you 5 gig with iCloud. To catch up with Google, Apple will sell you an extra 10 gig for $20 a year. Not the biggest deal in the world, but the comparison gets worse: When you buy a $199-to-$449 Chromebook (Google laptop), you get 100 gig worth of storage a year. Apple will sell you 100 gig of extra storage for $200 a year. If you buy Google's very fanciest laptop, the Pixel, you get 1 terabyte of cloud storage. Apple will gladly sell you this for $2,000 a year (50 gig chunks at $100 apiece). 5. Laptop pricing. This obviously gets into an area where you are comparing products that aren't identical -- such as storage capacity. We are dealing with different operating systems, different screens/displays, different CPUs, different batteries and so forth. Nevertheless, there are some huge gaps here, between Google and Apple. Google sells you a laptop for $199 and up. Apple sells you one for $999 and up. You can argue until you are blue in the face that Apple's $999 laptop is better than Google's $199 laptop, and in so many ways you would be right -- no doubt about it. However, a 5x difference in price is a huge hole to fill. You can buy five Google laptops -- same 11.6-inch screen size -- as the cheapest Apple laptop. Going back to the cost of cloud storage, for the price of one year's 100 gig iCloud storage ($200) that comes free with a $199 Google laptop, you can obviously buy an entire Google laptop. If that doesn't show the absurdity of Apple's laptop and cloud-storage pricing compared to Google's, I don't know what does. 6. Proprietary lock-ins. One of Apple's best features has been AirPlay. It allows you to display (or audio stream) on to your Apple TV-connected display -- or Chrome theater -- almost anything that happens on your MacBook or iOS device. Until two weeks ago, it had no decently performing peer on the Google side.
Then came the $35 Chromecast device -- which incidentally is obviously a lot cheaper than Apple's $99 AppleTV box. Not only does the Chromecast device work as advertised, but it also works using Apple Mac PCs, Microsoft ( MSFT) Windows PCs and Apple iOS devices. Does Apple's AirPlay work with Microsoft Windows PCs, Android and Chrome OS devices? Not so much. This is all a one-way street. Google works with Apple -- Apple not with Google. While we're at it, let's examine the other apps as well: Maps: Google's maps works on Apple; Apple doesn't have a maps app on Android -- not that anyone would want it, but still. Email: Gmail has apps on iOS devices; Apple doesn't have an email app on Google products. Then again, how many Apple users are even using an Apple e-mail address to begin with? Browser: The Chrome browser is one of the most popular apps on iOS. Is Apple's browser -- Safari -- even available on Android? Again, no. In other words, you can buy a Chromecast and it will work with your Apple devices. You can also use your Google services, and they will work on your Apple devices. However, AirPlay and other critical Apple services generally don't work on Google devices. It's a total one-way street. Implications for the Google-Apple battle Until a year ago, Apple was ahead in product refinement. Over the last year, Google has across a broad set of devices narrowed the gap, and moved ahead in some areas. Combined with materially lower prices -- 38% to 80% lower -- this will likely continue to put increased pressure on Apple's margins. Apple's valuation is low, and the stock is therefore attractive to some degree. At the same time, the competition from Google (and its hardware partners) is becoming ever-more intense, with extremely aggressive pricing. This could simply mean that the upside in Apple stock is more limited than its low valuation otherwise suggests. At the time of publication, the author was long GOOG and AAPL, and short MSFT. Follow @antonwahlman This article was written by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.