Any time a company wants you to go all-in on its ecosystem, watch out. Bundling can seem like a cost-saver — getting your phone, TV, and Internet from one service, for example. But there’s always a cost. Often, that cost means tolerating inferior products, as many cable bundlers know. It also means giving in to inertia. And if blind loyalty ultimately means helping a single large company corner a market, the savings disappear as prices inevitably rise.
AS you can tell, I’m a big fan of spreading your consumer dollars around. Monopolies suck. They kill creativity and wreck free markets.
This week’s So, Bob question was fun for me because it takes on this issue from a slightly different angle. Should I go all-in on one tech platform — use Apple for my phone, my laptop, my web browser, etc — or should I spread it around? From a privacy and security standpoint, which is better?
You can probably predict my answer. Spread things around, I say. But I spent last week with an old friend who heads a household of seven (!), and he offered a different perspective. He’s a geek, super smart, and doesn’t mind tinkering with tech. Still, when it comes to his family, he went all-in on Apple products. His reason? Simple: “I don’t want to be tech support all the time.”
I fully concede life is easier when you can look up a restaurant on your computer, get directions for it on your smartphone, then have those directions pop up automatically on your car’s GPS screen. But I’m also worried that any attack on any device in this chain could cripple all those gadgets.