Convergence is great, right? Your phone is your camera, your GPS, your games console; your TV is your web browser, your social hub, your on-demand media centre… and everything works together. It should be amazing, but that isn’t how it’s panning out. In reality convergence is exposing a sinister dark side: segregation by brand.
Today you don’t buy a device, you buy into an ecosystem. Take the iPhone, for example. The apps you buy you will have to buy them again if you jump ship to Google or Microsoft. But these apps will transfer to an iPad and it synchronises with an iPhone so you might as well make your tablet one of those. Then along comes Mac OS X 10.8 ‘Mountain Lion’ which integrates aspects of the iOS user interface, messaging functionality, back-up and more. Your computer should be a Mac then.
Do you want your Mac, iPhone and iPad content on your TV? Apple’s proprietary AirPlay wireless streaming is the way to go and that requires an AirPlay Express module or Apple TV. Might as well go the whole hog and buy an AirPlay music dock and AirPlay wireless printer too… all because you bought a phone, or any one of these devices.
Some might say that is Apple being Apple, but everyone is going the same way. Take Microsoft. It’s Windows Phone interface (formerly called ‘Metro’) is now a locked in part of Windows 8, again both synchronise and apps between the platforms will be “mostly” compatible. Both Windows Phone and Windows 8 will also seamlessly integrate with an Xbox, your Xbox Live account and forthcoming Windows 8 tablets. Great, except you must have a Windows Live account and your data must be stored using SkyDrive.
Even Google, the great proprietor of “Don’t Be Evil” and pusher of open standards is getting in on the act. Every owner of an Android or Chrome OS device must have a Gmail user account before the device will start and from that point Gmail takes over your mail, contacts and calendar and even pushes the company’s social network upon you. Meanwhile your printer works using Google Print and Google Drive is slowly taking over the storage of all your files. Enough!