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Creating your own tech ecosystem

2/28/2013 9:35:00 AM

When people ask me what to look for when buying a mobile device I always say choose your carrier first. After all, it’s no good having the latest smartphone if you don’t get quality service. After picking a wireless carrier, there are lots of other things to consider: operating system, screen size, camera quality, built-in apps, and, of course, price. Of all these other considerations, the phone’s operating system has arguably become the most important. That’s because the choice of OS is no longer just about the device you are currently buying – there are implications for every other device you own as well.

Consider what happens when you first set up an Android smartphone. The first question you are asked is do you have a Google account. Once you enter your e-mail and password, your Gmail address book is automatically synced, your Google+ account is updated, your Google Music is all there waiting for you, and even Maps and YouTube have all your preferences stored and ready to go. That’s because Google is using your account and its cloud services to make switching between devices as easy and as convenient as possible.

Of course, this ability to sync between devices is not restricted to Google and Android. Apple has its own ecosystem with the iPhone, iPad and the many variations of its Mac desktops and notebooks. Microsoft has used the launch of Windows 8 to pull together one of the most tightly integrated ecosystems. And even niche device manufacturers like Amazon have woven together a software infrastructure in the hopes of promoting additional brand loyalty.

And make no mistake, brand loyalty is the goal. While the device manufacturers and software providers want to make switching between devices as seamless as possible, they also want to make it as hard as possible to leave the cozy confines of your chosen ecosystem. If everything you do is based around a single operating system, why would you want to abandon that system and start over someplace else?

However, while we may like the convenience and security of a unified ecosystem, most of us also like choice. If we see an amazing new smartphone or tablet with a different operating system from the one we are used to, it would be great to know that we can give it a try without a huge drop-off in productivity. That’s where third-party cloud services and your wireless provider can make a difference.

Third-party cloud storage options like Dropbox and JustCloud are agnostic when it comes to operating systems but allow you to store all your documents and media files and access them from anywhere. Verizon customers also have the luxury of MyVerizon and Backup Assistant Plus, which can also be used to store files and backup important data.

Now, we can share data across all our mobile devices, as well as sharing and syncing our contacts and content. All the pieces are in place to build your own tech ecosystem but make sure it’s the ecosystem you want and not one that you’re forced into!

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