The Ecosystem

Written by Simon Brew

November 30, 2012 // 12:45 p.m.

These days when it comes to choosing a smartphone buyers don’t just consider the handset, they also look at the ecosystem in which it lies. This year has seen an abundance of new operating systems from big players like Apple, Microsoft and Google, all of which feature on both mobile and tablet devices, and go some way towards creating an ecosystem of integrated devices centred around each of their respective platforms.

What is an ecosystem?

Put simply, an ecosystem allows a range of devices, such as smartphones, tablets and laptops to integrate efficiently with each other and wirelessly share data. It usually starts with a mobile phone and whether it runs Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android or Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8, you can then add other devices running that operating system and make your ecosystem as large as you like. Many mobile users will already be a part of an ecosystem but just not yet know it.
So, what makes up an ecosystem?

What ecosystems are available?

Apple

At the centre of the Apple ecosystem, uniting its various devices is its own cloud storage service, so whether you’ve got an iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, iMac or MacBook, it will be very easy to immerse yourself in the ecosystem experience. Apple produces its software and hardware and as a result the experience on a mobile device running iOS or iMac running OSX feels the same whichever device is being used. The iTunes store for syncing through the iCloud enables users to access Apple’s apps, music and movies seamlessly across different devices, without having to download different versions of an app.

Google

Google’s Android operating system is very different to the likes of Apple, because it’s an open-source platform which enables various manufactures to modify the software depending on the device that will run it. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 and the HTC Flyer both run Android, but, thanks to the Google Drive cloud service and the Google Play store, users can bring their Android devices together, regardless of what name is emblazoned on the front. But there are concerns about fragmentation because the different iterations of Android currently in use means the user experience will never be the same across all devices, something which could eventually cause Google to lag behind.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s recent release of Windows 8 unites devices by one generic user interface, so whether on a desktop computer, Xbox, or Windows Phone 8 mobile the experience will be identical and it is now also supported by a tablet for the first time. Microsoft’s SkyDrive cloud service acts as a central point for users allowing various devices to access the same information and share content providing a seamless, personal experience each time. This also means that the need to sync with things such as email accounts is removed and multiple sign-ins are avoided.

How do you know which ecosystem is best for you?

Apple, Google and Microsoft each have their own benefits and drawbacks although that said it’s still very early days in the realms of the mobile ecosystem. This time last year the concept was only just starting to surface but now consumers as well as businesses are starting to embrace its offerings.

As with most things the ecosystem you opt for will be down to personal preference, each ecosystem operates differently and what you choose will probably depend on what you want to get from it and what software your device currently runs.

Written by Sarah Hazelwood of Dialaphone, the go- to destination for mobile upgrades.

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