Monday, January 11, 2016

A healthy dose of skepticism (January 11)

Today, I got to be a real journalist (or pundit, I guess, depending on your perspective). I got to read a report from a source, think about it critically, and comment on it. And I turned out to be right in the end.

On Saturday, there was a report in the Telegraph saying Apple was being asked to make a tool to let iOS users export their data so that they could switch away from iOS. It seemed like a pretty dumb story (and has now been confirmed false), so I thought about it. You can read the full piece over on MobileSyrup.

Apple wouldn't make a product to let their customers switch to Android, even if the EU was pressuring them to do so for anti-trust reasons. And even if they were, it wouldn't be in the manner described.
While a set of tools to allow iOS users to easily move their data to other platforms has seemingly obvious benefit, the actual implementation of such services are not straightforward. It’s worth keeping in mind that if users have access to a laptop or desktop computer, it is already trivial to export contacts, or copy music and photos to a new device.
Contacts, music and photos are not the data keeping users on a given platform. Not to say there aren't reasons to stick with what you have:
Perhaps the most overlooked part of this entire story is the fact that data like photos and contacts are not actually the biggest concern for locked-in users on either iOS or Android. Apps, especially those that cost users money, are the biggest reason many users will stay in the ecosystem they’ve invested in. If a service from either Apple or Google could import third-party application data or download and purchase history, then perhaps the reasoning behind this argument would be more compelling.
It's a fun game to play, thinking and talking and writing about Apple, and other tech companies. But you have to take what you read with a grain of salt, and not believe everything you read. I'm not great at it, but I'm learning, and this was a really great experience for me.