I just got my first iphone, and I’m definitely experiencing a steep learning curve when it comes to the world of apps. What did I have before my iphone?
A Palm Pre.
My Palm was an excellent set of smart phone-training wheels. It provided me with what I needed: email and information access and apps for tools and websites I was already using: Yelp, Facebook, Pandora, etc.
But I came to realize in order to be successful in Silicon Valley and work with technology entrepreneurs, I needed to be more engaged with what people were using and talking about on a day-to-day basis. Coming from a non-android/non-iOS platform has resulted in a steep learning curve as I attempt to add several applications at one time to my mobile routine. While most people added instagram, pinterest, path, and foursquare to their phones over the last year, I’ve added them all over a couple of hours and have found myself confused by how exactly to utilize these tools with each other and how to set my privacy settings in order to get the sharing preferences I want for each.
It’s complex and honestly a little bit discouraging, so I was happy when I read a couple articles that spoke of this complexity and the desire for more consistency and integration of platforms and apps.
@Om in his Tech 2012 Wishlist articulates this need for app integration and connection “…we need ways for mobile apps to connect with each other better and create enhanced experiences across platforms. Right now, mobile users need to enter data into different applications multiple times. The ability to mix and match data from other apps is going to help us realize that ‘data is the new plastic.’”
I believe this sentiment to be completely true. When I take a picture on my phone, I have to take distinct actions when deciding to post to Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and/or Path and that series of decisions and actions may lead me to just pocket my phone in frustration. But while I recognize the need for app synchronization, I do question how realistic it is to achieve. Why would these social applications want to help you push data to their competitors’ platforms? What do they gain? Isn’t the goal of these applications to pull users to be more reliant on their service and less reliant on others?
I read an article recently from slate.com which pinpoints the source of increased technological complexity to the shift from a PC-centric to mobile-centric world. “The old business was dominated by a single company, Microsoft, which could decide carte blanche how millions of peoples computers would change ever year. But no single company has yet claimed the post-PC era…and for the foreseeable future, new devices will remain under the sway of four or five gargantuan firms.”
This article is focused on the complexities of moving between devices, but I believe the same trend holds true for social applications. While there aren’t as many stronghold powerhouses in this space as in the device market, I don’t think the higher fluidity of the app market means that it will be easy to accomplish the goal of application integration.
With the fierce competition present in this social application space, it seems unlikely that we will settle on one, or a small set of, platform(s) in the next 12 months. In fact, I am sure before the end of February we’ll all be talking about the next great applications that require us to check-in, post, and share in a totally new way. And hopefully by then I’ll have figured how to use all the “must have apps” people have instructed me to download since I started writing this post.