Smartphone makers must smarten up

As featured on TM Forum's the Insider blog

For my sins I possess and use devices that have Apple iOS, Android and Windows operating systems. I could spend hours outlining the features, good and bad, of all of them but, quite honestly, none of them are perfect – for my liking anyway.

However, one thing that consistently irks me about all of them is their failure to work smoothly together across the gambit of applications and cloud services I use.

It’s not because they can’t all work together happily, it’s because some corporate decision has been made somewhere that some things should be kept unique to their device or OS to supposedly give them some fantastic market advantage over their competitors.

Let me tell you, and them, this is pure bunkum! All it does is get their customers annoyed and switching to the next option – and there are many to choose from. Let me give you some examples.
I have to post articles to a number of websites, including this one. All of them accept a ‘cut and paste’ from Microsoft Word that I have used for longer than I care to remember. It is way too sophisticated a product for me to take advantage of but everyone else uses it and the .doc files it produces can go anywhere.

Only problem is, I have an iPad and I don’t have Word on it because Microsoft hasn’t ported it as an app. I can now use Office 365 if I would like to subscribe to it but then need to be online for it to work. This means I have to carry my notebook everywhere as well as my iPad. Oh, and it would be the same issue if I had an Android tablet.

My Windows Surface RT has Office on it, but most of my favorite Android and iOS apps don’t work on it. I use Dropbox to store files I need to access from all devices because I can’t use iCloud that only works with iOS devices and apps or Skydrive because it likes MS devices. Yes, I know I could use Evernote to do everything, but I don’t happen to like it.

I can sync my iOS devices to Windows devices as long as they have iTunes, but I can’t do it the other way very easily with MS or Android devices and apps. Are you starting to get the gist of my frustrations? I can bet I’m not the only one.

The solution would be to just stick to one OS and forget the rest, but then I am trapped into a technology spiral I will find difficult to extract myself from sometime in the future when something better comes along.

There is a simple solution to these issues, as I see it. Google, Microsoft and Apple need to grow up and act like adults. All this ‘competitive’ yet restrictive hoo-ha is not really giving any one of them a clear advantage and every time they play the patent and litigation game we, as consumers, not only suffer, we get really annoyed.

I understand the need to protect somebody’s intellectual property but the patent offices seem to have no idea how to differentiate between what is truly unique technology or just an improvement on an existing one. How stupid was the granting of mobile email patents before phones were able to handle email? And how absurd the perpetual Apple vs Samsung saga?

But I digress. In a swipe at Google’s lack of openness in restricting the YouTube app on Windows Phone, Microsoft’s Corporate Vice President & Deputy General Counsel, Litigation & Antitrust, David Howard said, “it seems to us that Google’s reasons for blocking our app are manufactured so that we can’t give our users the same experience Android and iPhone users are getting. The roadblocks Google has set up are impossible to overcome, and they know it.”

Of course, Microsoft has been no slouch in the restriction stakes itself, as I pointed out above, yet these tit-for-tat scenarios continue to thwart the user experience across all platforms. I’m really pleased my communications provider does not discriminate – I can use any device on the network quite happily. Maybe there is a lesson for Google, Microsoft and Apple to be learnt here?
 

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