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Thursday, July 28, 2011In the past couple of weeks, I bought a Windows Phone 7 device for the purpose of doing some development on this platform (and of course also for my geek curiosity). I also bought an Android tablet for the purpose of testing our mobile web controls (for IntraWeb and ASP.NET). Surprisingly, neither the Windows Phone 7 nor the Android tablet device could convince me to swap my iPhone or iPad for it. While I think the Windows Phone 7 still has many weird behaviors, flaws, bad UI design it is a huge step forward from Windows Mobile 6.5. The hardware of the Samsung Omnia 7 is really very nice and fast. Android has its own quirks but at the same time it's nice to have so much more freedom on this device compared to iOS. But still, that's not enough a reason to get me over. The main issue is that I have meanwhile so many apps (paid and free) I frequently rely on on my iOS devices that I feel uneasy on a device without them. I'm thinking about WhatsApp, Echofon or Skype on iPhone not available on Windows Phone 7. Or NewsTap newsgroup reader, Flipboard, Feedler RSS reader, my favourite TV guide, Mercedes TV and countless others only available on iOS.
Even when all would be available on either Android or Windows Phone 7, why would I be inclined to purchase many of them again for another OS?
This whole situation looks very similar to me as the DOS apps and Windows apps lock-in that Microsoft enjoyed for so long. No one was really able to break in this territory for so long. I remember discussions more than 10 years ago with a colleague about purchasing a Mac. How could we justify buying the machine while we still needed a Windows box next to it to run the Windows apps we needed on a daily basis. Admitted, we have VMs these days that help a lot but still it is a hassle and a friction.
Having been the first significant & accepted mover with the App Store and having made people rely on a wide range of apps is in my opinion the crucial element guaranteeing a continued success for Apples iOS business.
Talking about app lock-in, I'm starting to increasingly feel a similar dependency with the Google Chrome browser. The Chrome web store offerings are becoming more interesting all the time. I feel uncomfortable with a browser without my precious set of apps & extensions like Speeddial2, iMacros, Screen Capture, ChromeItLater, goo.gl, Adblock, I don't see myself moving quickly to another browser when I would have to miss all this.
Are you also feeling app locked-in?
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