Cross-platform and ecosystems don't mix well, so I try to stay on the outside
Ecosystem; for some it's why they continually buy devices powered by the same mobile OS. You start out in one place, you start buying music, apps, books, movies, TV shows, the full package. It gets to a point where moving away from that ecosystem will be hard work, because you won't have easy access to all that content. So, you stay. While ecosystems are a good thing – and an even better thing for the companies providing them – if you want to be a cross-platform user, ever, getting too embedded isn't the strongest idea.
I'm a cross-platform person. Partly for reasons of my work here at Mobile Nations, and partly because I just love trying everything. But more than this, I want to be able to be a cross-platform person for the future also, so I've tried not to get too deep into any one ecosystem while still using them all in some way.
iTunes is probably the best example. It pretty much sets the standard globally with more content available in more places than competitors. Music, movies, TV, apps and games, books, podcasts, magazines, audiobooks, iTunes has pretty much all the bases covered. And that's great, as long as you primarily use Apple equipment. While you may be able to download audio and video content via iTunes on your Windows PC, to use that content on a competing mobile device requires some kind of effort. A manual process of moving your stuff around.
I'm not picking on iTunes here either, because generally speaking it's the same everywhere else. OK, Apple won't allow something like the Amazon MP3 Store into the App Store, but generally speaking purchases from proprietary services – Google Play, Xbox Video, Nokia Music, BlackBerry World to name a few – requires some interaction on the user end to move stuff around between devices. I get that each provider doesn't want you to go elsewhere, but that doesn't help cross-platform users. Or just folks who enjoy having easy access to everything they own.
So, what's my solution? Third-party services, predominantly cloud services. Spotify provides most of my music, Netflix provides most of my video. I say most, because I do still buy from iTunes, Google Play, Amazon and the like from time to time, often dictated by who has the best deals on at the time of purchase. But I buy that content in the knowledge that I'm probably only going to use it in certain places, on certain devices. Spotify is everywhere – except BlackBerry 10, sadly – as is Netflix – sadly, the same story – so with these I don't generally need to worry about which mobile device or computer I'm picking up to use at that time. And that's why I like them so much.
Reading is the same. I'm split between Nook and Kindle, but again, both services are pretty much available everywhere. To me, the closed nature of ecosystems in general is more off-putting than the open or closed nature of a mobile OS. Everything in one place is great, but some of us are in multiple places for most of the time.
So, that's my take, and why I don't get too deeply embedded in any one ecosystem. I understand and appreciate why they exist, I'm just not that into them from a personal stand point. I like to know I can get the same content more or less wherever I may go. I'd like to hear your thoughts, though. Are you much more comfortable with the one-stop-shop approach, or like me, do you prefer to get content that isn't reliant so much on which device you're using? Let me know in the comments!
More: Talk Mobile 2013