Why It's Never Been More Important to Pick Your Mobile Platform Wisely

Is moving from one mobile OS to another a big deal? Maybe not right now, but the platform you choose today could have ramifications on your fitness tracking, car navigation and TV viewing in the future, according to CIO.com blogger James A. Martin.

Will your choice of phablet determine the mobile ecosystem you get locked into for health and fitness tracking, automobile navigation and home entertainment?

I’ve been mulling this questions since I saw Google’s flurry of news at its 2014 I/O conference this week. More on that in a second. First, let’s start with Apple, which is expected to release two big-screened iPhone 6 phones this fall, one model at 4.7 inches and another at 5.5 inches.

Apple’s current iPhone 5 models max out at 4 inches and can’t compare to Samsung’s army of phablets, including the Samsung Galaxy Note 3 (5.7-inch screen) and the Galaxy Mega (6.3 inches). But will supersized Apple phones lure phablet fans away from their Samsungs?

I doubt we'll see a mass exodus, becasue there are many happy Samsung phablet users out there. Still, a few trends are worth noting:

  • The appetite for phablets appears to be growing in general. The phablet share of smartphone shipments went from 4.3 percent in early 2013 to 10.5 percent one year later, according to IDC, a CIO.com sibling company.     
  • Interest in the iPhone 6 is high. Fifty percent of consumers planning a phone upgrade in the next three months say they’ll get an iPhone, and 25 percent say they’re willing to spend $100 more to get one with a 5.5-inch screen, according to a new RBC Capital Markets report.  

This could mean there will be a fair amount of Android-to-iOS switchers this fall. Moving from Android to iOS or vice versa may not seem like a huge deal — until you consider the future of both platforms.

Recent announcements from Apple (at its WWDC developer conference) and Google (at I/O) clearly illustrate that their mobile ecosystems are poised to expand far beyond smartphones and tablets in the near future.

Both Apple and Google are busy integrating health and fitness apps, APIs and smartwatch/fitness trackers into their respective ecosystems. Both are vying to become your car’s mobile OS. Android TV is coming to a set-top box near you later this year to compete against, among others, Apple TV, as well as the physical Apple television the company is said to be building. Don’t even get me started on the "Internet of Things," as part of which refrigerators, toaster ovens, crockpots and other everyday appliances will no doubt soon be hooked into and controlled by apps within the Android and iOS ecosystems. The goal of both companies is to deeply interconnect the various devices on their platforms so that, for instance, you can control your TV set with your smartwatch. 

As the months and years tick by, the Apple and Google platforms will undoubtedly invade many areas of our lives. Of course, it’s quite possible to live with one foot planted in each ecosystem. I do. But the benefits of mobile OS agnosticism will likely reach diminishing returns over time, forcing most people into one camp or the other.

So if you find yourself mulling a jump from Android to iOS or the other way around, choose carefully. Whichever road you take, the further you go, the harder it will be to turn back.

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