17.5: Locked In

January 19, 2013

At present I own three computing devices that I use regularly — iPhone 4, iPad (3rd generation), and iPad mini — all Apple products running iOS 6. Including previous purchases, I’ve owned six iOS devices in a little over five years. My computing lifestyle is shaped by a single company, and what follows is an argument in favor of that scenario.

To say that I’ve invested a significant amount of time and money in the iOS ecosystem is an understatement. I’ve spent $2,554 just on iOS devices themselves over the course of a little more than five years, and probably a similar amount in software and services.

Let me rephrase the previous paragraph; even if I wanted to, leaving iOS for a competing platform would be difficult and the financial hit would be depressing. It’s in my best interest to stick to using iPhones and iPads because otherwise I’d have to start over which, again, is unreasonable. The kicker is that the longer I stay with iOS, the more I invest in it and the more locked-in to the platform I become!

Fortunately I haven’t ever wanted a device powered by Android (which you may know as Apple’s primary competition). In the history of iOS and Android I haven’t once paused and thought that Android might be the superior operating system; the “open” ideology behind Android clashes with my own behaviors, whereas I align with iOS.

Unfortunately I actually like what Microsoft has done with its Windows Phone operating system. So while I do still genuinely prefer iOS, my potential future with Windows Phone is definitely a casualty of being locked-in to the iOS ecosystem.

So the question becomes is it a smart idea to heavily invest in a single ecosystem and lock yourself into it? As far as I know, the time and money I’ve spent on iOS has let me get the most out of the platform, and its value to me is very high. If a company’s ideals closely match your own and you believe that it has a future, locking yourself into its platform and getting the most value for your time and money is probably smart.

If you aren’t sure, it’s probably a good idea to keep an open mind and not invest too much in a given platform until you find the one that you can stand behind no matter what. I’ve stuck with Apple in times good and times bad, and when the day ends I’m rewarded for it; but maybe that’s just me. I’ve copied and pasted the following quote before, but it’s one of my favorite web comments and it’s relevant enough to end with.

LareneDepopiet, CNET Commenter:

Companies, or brands have a style, a culture, a language, and that adds up to something close to a personality. This is very clear internally in the way decisions are made, priorities assigned, and generally what values are held. Finding that a companies values or priorities are a good match for your own, which you may not do consciously, will make you more receptive to its products or services. there is nothing wrong with that, it does not make you a fanboy or a zombie.
Just like you are more forgiving of your friends’ faults because you value their qualities, you can be more accepting of a product’s weaknesses because you appreciate a company’s culture. That does not make you stupid. In fact, in the long term, it may be smarter because you reward the companies who have values consistent with yours, even when their products are not, objectively, the absolute best in a category.

I agree completely. And this probably isn’t the last time I’ll post that quote, sorry in advance. ;-)

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