Why Choosing a Smartphone is like choosing an Addiction.

Looking to buy your very first smart phone (or tablet), then choose… wisely! Don’t rush into any particular choice, as the consequences will probably follow you for a long time.

The Big Three

Owning your first smartphone is like becoming addicted to a class A drug. Once you start spending money on that phones app store, you become addicted to that platform more and more with each purchase. The only difference between a smartphone and a class A Drug – You can NEVER go back to not using a smartphone, whereas with the right treatment and support, an addict can be broken from their drug dependency.

Here are my thoughts…

When you choose your first smartphone, you are choosing an eco-system first and a device second. Over the course of the first 18-24 months you own and use your first smartphone, you are going to purchase and download a variety of apps, games, movies and music from the app store of that phone. When you decide to upgrade to a new phone (probably after your old contract has expired.) you will realise “Oh hey, if I want all my apps, games and stuff on my new phone, I’m going to need another of the same!” This means that the next time you upgrade another 18-24 months down the line, you’re going to be even MORE dependent upon that smartphone eco-system.

Todays smartphone eco-systems are a modern form of addiction, locking their users into a cycle of dependency and need. How many people are going to be willing to re-buy all the apps and games they have accrued over a year or more? Not many, and that’s just apps and games. Video is another entertainment media that the app stores have been pushing more and more lately. Movies and TV shows are generally even more expensive than most apps and games are, and thanks to heavy layers of Digital Rights Management (DRM) within those media files, they will commonly be locked to that platform forever more.

Don’t get me wrong, it has been known for some people to break their cycle of dependency and switch from an iPhone to an Android device, or an Android to A Windows Phone device etc. But the longer someone is immersed in the ecosystem they have initially chosen – the tougher and more expensive it will be for them to break free!

Pre-dominantly the big three platform holders (Apple, Google & Microsoft) are still targeting new users who are new to smartphones. But eventually all phones will be smartphones, and the only way for them to get more people to switch to their system will be if they minimise the cost to the user to switch. They will need to forge cross-platform licensing deals with the app developers so that an app or game purchased on the Android Google Play store can be re-downloaded on a competing platforms store, whether that is iTunes or Windows and vice-versa. DRM will also need to die because the future of any platforms long-term growth will rest on how easy it will be for a user to switch. At the moment, it’s not very easy to leave at all.

(Yes, I have included Microsoft in with the big three. MS despite its marginal smartphone OS share in the US is the fastest growing OS around the rest of the world. Blackberry is dead as an OS, they just haven’t accepted their fate yet. Amazon have their own range of Tablets but as of yet, no phone – but their OS is a highly customised version of Android. Samsung are launching Tizen, let’s see how that works out for them.)


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