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When buying a tablet this Christmas buy into an ecosystem not the hardware

Being this close to Christmas, questions start coming in about what Tablet/Smartphone to get from friends and occasionally family. Quite rightly to as there is a huge selection out there to choose from at this time of the year and even more so than usual purchasers need to beware. For every Samsung Galaxy device and iPhone there is a no name brand offering what seems to be a cheap good deal hanging on the coattails of what is usually but not always Android..

When looking at what Tablet to buy however there is more to hardware in hind, you are choosing an ecosystem too..

Longterm the ecosystem will be more important to you than the hardware you buy this Christmas and what you choose now could effect you further on down the road.

What do i mean?

This Christmas there are 3 camps when it comes to mobile devices Apple with IOS, Google with Android and Microsoft with Windows 8. While Microsoft is playing catchup here all three are Brand names which even the most ardent technological Luddite will have heard of. All three of these companies default to their own ecosystem. Apple’s iCloud, Google’s Mail/Google+ and Microsoft’s Xbox/Skydrive system.

Some platforms play better than others with other devices, Google for example plays much better than Apple on most non Android devices. However there are more factors to be aware of.

Storing your data in the cloud.

The key to the ecosystem is your data, while you might think that’s your word documents and excel spreadsheets there is more to it than that on the mobile platform. Your data is your contacts, email addresses, phone calls, search queries, map lookups.. Each of the platforms do as much as they can to make getting that data into their ecosystem as simple as possible. There is a reason for this and its called Big Data.. your surfing habits and data is part of collective marketing industry used to target advertising more appropriate for you, at you.

The problem is while getting your information into these ecosystems is made as easy as it can be, quite often getting your information out isn’t quite so easy. Right now you may just be entering the world of the Mobile ecosystem, in a few years maybe you will want to migrate to another system and those photos and videos need to be exported out of where they are now into your new chosen home. A consideration is just how easy is it to do this with your current chosen platform?

Investing in Apps.

There is of course another factor when it comes to choosing an infrastructure and that is apps. No matter what device you choose the stock apps will only get you so far. At some point you will venture into the app store however and download an app, to start you may think you can survive on free apps alone but the time will come when you start spending money on apps. Over time the micropayments system which seems like a few quid here and there will mount up.

It’s important to understand which ecosystem has the apps you want before you start dropping coin on these apps, while i’m a firm believer an app store is about quality not quantity if this is your first venture into the world of the smart device then it is well worth your while making sure the apps you run on your desktop are supported on your new platform of choice. I’ve recently had a move of Android onto WP8 and had to make changes to apps i use for streaming music.

3rd Party ecosystems

And the above comment leads me onto something often overlooked when choosing a smart device is the existing ecosystems you may already be a part of from your current computing environment. These may moving forward may still be worth continuing on the platform you choose.

If you’ve already got your music on Rdio or Spotify, then you won’t need itunes or Google Music, if you’re invested in dropbox then iCloud, GDrive or Skydrive may not be something you need to invest in. Alternatively you may be  invested in Google already.

If this is the case then you’re looking for a device which support’s the ecosystem you are already part of. If it’s not the case then you may need to consider if your going to need access to the data on multiple platforms anyway, are you going to need to see your cloud based data on a TV in a few years time? On your home PC? Can you update the data on your home desktop to your new smart device?

and then there is the media..

As well as the % market share creamed off the top of all app sales the big 3 are also desperate to sell you media in the form of Video’s and Music and they all have a huge amount of power and sway in the media industries, this isn’t to sell you the media right now. It’s also because in the near future all 3 are going to have to have a huge push for the TV in your living room and then the media content you have suddenly takes on a new identity if you consider you have already bought into an environment.

Again however 3rd party support is important here because services like netflix or lovefilm already have a huge grasp on the streaming movie content world

What is the go to hardware?

Right now this Christmas i’d recommend an Android device to anyone entering this path of the smart phone or the tablet, i’d recommend these devices because the Google Nexus 7 is a wonderful decent priced and sized tablet and the Samsung Galaxy SIII is a fantastic phone. From an ecosystem point of view there is a good chance you are already invested in google with a gmail account. The device has excellent support for the big Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, G+ as well as a huge number of good cross platform compatible apps. The Android platform has more than gained traction and the Google Play store has a great selection of Applications.




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