Play Time

7 03 2012

We live in good times. Technology is developing so fast we can hardly keep up. While change is a constant, the rate of change is changing. And companies are duking it out in a slugfest to continually offer us the best of everything.

Like Google Play, the latest offering from the search engine giant. Google eBookstore, Google Music, and the Android AppStore have been combined into Play, and are now a direct competitor with Apple’s iCloud service. Basically, everything you do on one device can be accessed or continued on another.

Can anyone say convergence?

Play and iCloud allow users complete control over their content and when, where and how it is accessed. It’s all about mobility. Convenience. Portability. And the cloud.

There’s that word again. You’d think I’d quit hammering this point home with my students, but I happen to think this thing is huge. It is redefining not only how we compute, but how we do everything.

And both Google and Apple have now effectively created their own ecosystems that reinforce each device. It would be foolish, for example, for an iPhone owner to buy an Android tablet. What these companies have done is basically make it hard (and silly) for anyone to consider jumping ship. Which is why my family’s tech toys are all Apple products. Once you sip the Kool-Aid, you have to take a refill, not a different cup.

And it must be repeated (as I have said numerous times before), that Apple and Google have accomplished such ecosystems in entirely different ways. Apple’s is one based around both hardware and operating system, whereas Google’s is just about the OS. Either way, though, both have a way of locking the door on you.

All of this convenience must have a price, though. Apple offers 5GB of free storage, but is giving the legacy MobileMe users a free upgrade to 20GB for a few months, at which time we will be given the option to pony up an unspecified premium. It remains to be seen how Google will handle the revenue side. Of course, since Google is nothing less than an advertising company, maybe they will be able to offer everything for free, the “price” being that we have to endure more ads.

Orf course, one big piece missing from all this bundling is television, but not for lack of trying. Google TV was supposed to bridge that gap, but landed with a thud. Google is rumored to be in development of its own line of TVs with built-in Google TV features; Apple is also rumored to preparing its own line of TVs for introduction this year. Once we get all of these devices linked via the cloud, there won’t be much left that we do not already have.

Which is another way of saying I may never have to leave my recliner to do anything. These really are good times. Now if I can just train my Golden Retriever to retrieve some food and beverage for me.

Dr “Refill, Please!” Gerlich


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