The Extinction of Being Platform Agnostic

I was just sitting here thinking about the week’s computing news, Google I/O Conference’s Nexus 7, Nexus Q, and Project Glass’s demo/developer availability ($1500, not bad). I thought about earlier news, Microsoft releasing the Surface tablets, the killing of Windows Phone 7’s upgradability to Windows 8, and the continued positive impressions from those spending more time with Windows 8 and the Metro UI. And then there is Apple with iOS 6, thinner and sharper-screened laptops (don’t ask about upgrading those), and refinements in the operational aspects of the company that keep them trucking. You know, there is almost nothing major to note of those initiatives that are not vertically integrated like these. I mean yea, you’ve got your Kickstarter projects (Pebble, Tricorder Project, etc.), but largely speaking, if you aren’t in any of the major computing nations, you might as well not even exist.

Choice is something that I have tried to exercise as much as I can. And yes, it is something that endears more headaches and work along the way, but also more contentment. While I will admit that rarely am I one to find things as smooth as I want them, I do find that they tend to live a bit longer across digital spaces.

I can remember that break from a container the first time, when I chose to use the Nokia N800 and its (rough edges and pulp interior) Maemo OS. I had little recourse then that if I was going to use web services or apps that the data produced as well as access points had to happen as thoroughly as they did on my service-friendly devices. If I wanted email, IMAP, not POP, and not applications that didn’t export my archives to HTML files. If I wanted to do notes, the shareable notes at worst in PDF, usually in SVG, at best in HTML. In that way I wasn’t so much tied to the hardware or even brand, as much as I was tied to making sure that I could communicate clearly to whomever and whenever.

I see that as soon not being the case anymore. Computing is fractured along digi-political lines. As much as people can’t or don’t want to, you have to make this investment into someone’s ecosystem or lie digital fractured. And when in these ecosystems, countries that you don’t control, govern, and simply have an IKEA-like ability to only build from what was given to you, there you figure out what protss and property looks like. Either invest in the vision of that company, or find your ability to choose becoming like a dodo bird (pretty, unique, and soon extinct).

Some folks will make value and profit out of services and methods that speak across these new state lines. There are those Evernotes, Facebooks, and API libraries that are just jumping that the chance to do something here. And even more, there are standards bodies, governments, and IP licensees just waiting for these connections to be needed enough that some monetary value is suitable from them. I get it. But I am also typing this on my iPad, wondering if it really matters that I have a major branded item, or that I can just speak I the major brands when needed?

Back when I had that N800 as one of my primary devices, I saw a future where the hardware was almost nothing, the base platform was stable, secure, and malleable, and services connecting me to what matters to me is where companies made their beans. That future seems to be coming, but only as defined by company/shareholder visions, not by those folks using this tech. In a very real sense, it is almost like consumer/developer choice is becoming extinct. To have that Jetson’s like future I’ve opined about in the past, is theis part of cost?

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