Industry In-Fighting is Really Starting to Tick Me Off

Enough already, will ya?!  I want interoperability!

apple_1351488311_540x540Attention computer vendors everywhere – I use your software tool it because it solves problems for me, not because it makes you money, or it looks cool, or any other reason other than it solves problems for me. So when you either don’t allow something to work OR if you reduce functionality – i.e. make something stop working that was previously working before, all you’re going to do in the long term is lose a customer.

Case in point – the latest update to the Mail, Calendar and People ModernUI app in Windows 8 removes Google Accounts from its syncable and supported accounts list. This is driving me nuts, because I spent a good 3 years in the Android camp before switching back to my iPhone. Unfortunately for me, my “master PIM account” is my Google Apps account.

This is a problem in an iPhone world because Google and Apple don’t’ work and play well together as they used to do. Both companies are busy having a “smartphone measuring” contest, trying to figure out whose smartphone is bigger, better, faster, etc.

I’ve got the same problem with Google and Microsoft over in the Windows 8 camp. Google recently removed Exchange ActiveSync support from its Google Apps suite. If you’re using a non-Google tool to sync PIM data, you may soon be out of luck. What this means is that if you have an Android Smartphone and a Windows 8 tablet, you can’t sync your contacts from Gmail to your Windows 8 tablet with Windows 8 Mail. An email program without your contacts in it is useless.

If you have an iPhone, you might be able to use CardDAV and CalDAV, but…oh yeah… Windows 8 doesn’t support those either. Apple is also dropping support of EAS from Mail.

So what we have here is a RETURN to the non-interoperability of 2007-2009 before both Google and Apple announced support for Exchange ActiveSync and everybody worked and played nice together.

From a vendor perspective, this is Google, Apple and Microsoft trying to lock users into their paid services. From a consumer perspective, this is a giant pain in the @$$.

Now, more than ever, until everyone decides that it’s politically correct to work and play well together, consumers must pick and choose their tools wisely. If you want all of your information to sync where and when you want it, you’re likely going to have to choose compatible tools.

In other words, due to the fact that it’s becoming increasingly harder to use off-vendor devices and service together, you aren’t going to be able to mix and match devices any longer. If you want to use an iPhone, you’re likely going to have to work with a Mac computer and an iPad tablet. If you have an Android smartphone, you’re going to be tied to Gmail/Google Apps and an Android tablet. Same thing for Windows Phone and Windows 8/RT.

All of these vendors have software and SaaS products to sell you and they want to insure that they hook you, and keep you in THEIR camp, in THEIR ecosystem. This is going to do nothing more than widen the gaps between vendors, their services and tools and firmly draw lines in the sand that users are going to have to cross.

This is going to create some very interesting opportunities for 3rd party developers who might be able to setup sync and consolidation services – think The Missing Sync and Plaxo – but both of those are having their own issues and problems to get around. All of this may do nothing more than narrow and eliminate choices for users as vendors like MS, Google and Apple try to lock them in. it’s going to be an interesting couple of years before this is all worked out. We may end up back with interoperability, but don’t think that it’s going to be for free… if it comes back, users are going to pay subscription and licensing fees.

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