The complexity of a multiplicity of devices and platforms.

I’m a computer geek, and I like my gadgets, if I look around me this is what I see:

  1. Media Centre PC
  2. Tablet PC 1 (used for work)
  3. Tablet PC 2 (now my daughters)
  4. Desktop Replacement Laptop (gathering dust)
  5. MacBook Air (using right now)
  6. Zune
  7. Creative ZEN
  8. iPod Touch

And that isn’t even counting the various devices that my house mates have. If I was going to divide these guys up into groupings I’d say that I have the following platforms:

  • Microsoft-only
  • Microsoft and Partners
  • Apple-only

I’ve very much a platform kind of guy so I try to keep the Microsoft stuff Microsoft, and the Apple stuff Apple. The Creative ZEN is the odd one out, but strangely it probably works the best with things like Windows Media Player – that is the whole partner eco-system at work. In fact if I look at the complexity introduced with having this range take advantage of my digital media I can see the appeal of having just one platform in the home (Apple or Microsoft).

In my case, my current biggest challenge is getting access to and managing my music collection. The only place with a enough permanantly connected storage for my full music library. I have fragments of it on other devices and now I’ve got DRM music from various sources – it is a complete nightmare.

Of course – the seductive argument is to choose one platform and just stick with it, but if I go to Microsoft then in Australia I have to use partners to get the experience I want (Zune isn’t fully supported in Australia), or I can go to Apple which I don’t think has a good a sync story between devices, media centres and extenders as Microsoft does (could just be my inexperience with Apple here though).

Meanwhile companies are battling it out for control of your media experience. There are the major players, but there are minor ones as well, but unlike competition in other spaces, in this one, I think the consumer is the loser because you can’t easily transition from one to the other.

Sometimes I think that there needs to be legislation put into place around data and media portability between vendors just like there is for mobile phone number portability.

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