Not too long ago, the idea that you could seamlessly connect and integrate all of your technological devices — TV, smartphone, computer, tablet — would have sounded like a detail from an episode of “The Jetsons.” Now the concept is well on its way to becoming a reality, with the three major players of the tech industry — Apple, Google and Microsoft — competing to create the ideal connected device ecosystem.
CNET’s Molly Wood describes the term “ecosystem” like this:
In a way, it’s a dream: it’s the term that refers to a perfectly integrated gadget experience, one that combines the device and its OS with deeply integrated content (streaming movies and TV, music, books, and magazines) and services (media stores, cloud storage, app stores).
The vision is that no matter what gadget you are using, you will be able to accomplish the same tasks and access the same content because everything will be connected. It’s what Steve Jobs dubbed the “digital hub” back in 2001. People want to have all of their content at their fingertips, so a mobile ecosystem that they can access anywhere at any time is very interesting to both consumers and app developers.
The Apple brand is well on its way to creating a connected device ecosystem with its products, including the iPhone, the iPad, iBooks, Apple TV and MacBook computers. All are connected by the iTunes Store and App Store, which simplifies the process of using multiple devices. One advantage for Apple is that its users are famously loyal to the brand (there is even a dating site designed specifically for them) and its products.
The Google Ecosystem
Google is proving a worthy competitor for Apple. It created Google Play, where users can access music, books, movies, apps and games from the web or any Android device. It also offers Google TV, Google books, Android phones and tablets and an integrated system of all their cloud services (Google docs, Gmail, Google Reader, etc.)
Microsoft is planning a big comeback in the next few years, and if it succeeds, it will be a formidable opponent in the fight for the best mobile ecosystem. Its plans rely on three main elements: Windows, Windows Phone and Xbox; much depends on the success of the Windows 8 operating system, set to launch this fall, which has received positive early reviews.
The victor in this race will be the company that can build the most thriving, sustainable connected device ecosystem. It will have to create a consumer experience that is easy and accessible, but it will also need to build a platform that is attractive and practical for the app developers who will be using it. Right now, Apple apps are the most profitable on the market, but that could change once Google and Microsoft start to make progress on their respective ecosystems.
In addition to app developers, the tech players must also woo the publishing giants who have the power to grant their ecosystem access to consumer’s favorite media.
Let the games begin!
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