I recently received a Nokia Lumia 820 for review (more on that soon) but what really interested me about the device is the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem. I’m a weird hybrid, I have a Windows 8 desktop (thus a Microsoft account) and a Macbook Pro (with an iPhone and iPad kept in sync via iCloud) and on top of that I use Gmail and Google Apps to manage all my mail. I have a foot in every major mobile providers ecosystem. I exclude RIM for obvious reasons. I put my Windows account details into the phone when I first turned it on and all the mail from my Gmail (which is associated with the account) synchronised. I had a fairly simple realisation:
The winner of the mobile operating system war isn’t going to be the company that necessarily provides the best hardware or even software (they are all fairly similar at the basics) but the company that provides the best cloud ecosystem features. Contacts, calendar and certain files have become the basics each company provides. Apple has iCloud, Google has Gmail and Microsoft has a Hotmail/Skydrive combination that can currently be a little confusing.
You see the important issue to consider here is that once you’ve hooked yourself into iCloud, Gmail or Hotmail it’s actually quite painful to get out of the system. You’re locked in with all your contacts in iCloud or a server somewhere at Google HQ.
This brings me back to my original point: Apple sells a hardware device currently. The same can be said for the likes of Samsung and Nokia who sell to their customers based on their hardware. They tout features such as multi-megapixel cameras, sixteen core chips and screens that only an Orangutang could comfortably hold.
If Apple, Microsoft or Google (and even RIM) were smart they’d all sell you on one feature: “We make it easy for you to port”. If I could go to a Microsoft website, plug in my iCloud address and have all my information essentially broken out of jail I’d be a happy customer. At the moment I stick with Apple for the simple reason that I know when I put it on I’ll have all my contacts and calendars on the phone the moment I put my password in. The same applies for Google and Microsoft. Currently I have a weird mess of contacts from Linkedin, Facebook, Google and more on the Lumia 820. This is an issue of ignorance on my part and not knowing how to use the syncing properly however it’s frustrating.
Break down the walls holding our data inside!