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It's not just Apple and Microsoft, it's everyone and I'm getting sick of it. 
We're heading to a new era of platform lock-in that extends to vendors' Internet services.
Ralph Roberts's profile photoRon Miller's profile photoDan Ramos's profile photoDan Emmons's profile photo
David H
Nice write up on a subject that really doesn't get much attention. As one of those who has been around computers since the punch card days, I have seen a lot of change in the industry. Some of the change has been very good, some of it very bad, this falls into the bad category for me. This is also one of the reasons that the computing industry is trying to declare the PC dead. This is also one fo the reasons that I am moving more towards *nix based computing in my home or not upgrading any PC beyond Win7. I like Android, but only on my phone and tablets.

Thanks for putting a voice to my concerns!
Yes! Finally, after listening to everyone complain about Microsoft and Apple (who deserve it) but ignore the fact that Google try to do this, mobile phone providers with help from OEMs, and so forth.

That's one reason why I refuse to use only one platform, and I keep my personal files in open formats (backed up on my own hardware in my home, in addition to offsite). 
+Bart Sintenie grow a pair and not buy their stuff, that's what we can do.  they understand $ that's why they try to trap people into buying their stuff as most likely people will go with a cheaper or better deal as soon as they can, leaving their crap in the dust.
While surely the tech giants continue to play games and try to lock us in just as they always have, just because Microsoft doesn't get the cloud enough to sync your settings across platforms, doesn't mean it's about lock in, just stupidity on Microsoft's part. As for iOS and Flash, even Adobe has all but given up on it on mobile and Google has grown dubious of it too. I'm not sure it's relevant anymore. 
+Tony Sandoval So tell me, how does one obtain mobile phones and computer systems (read: services that enable users to do stuff on their systems) that are not 'vendor locked'?
Good article and I agree....
since you took apple to task on the lack of flash you should also add that the latest versions of android also no longer have flash.
NOTE: (I do not own any Apple devices)
+Paul Marshall have to agree. Though that decision didn't come from Google/ Android, but from Adobe who stopped supporting Android)
Advantages: (user point-of-view)
-- easy installation
-- one giant store, with many choices, even silly apps
-- guaranteeing a certain level of quality
-- applications follow the UX guidelines for better or worst. 
-- probably 99.5% free of viruses and malware

Disadvantages: (especially for power users and users older than 30)
-- only one or 2 channels
-- you can't put your own apps (even it is trash) on your device
-- apps are censored for better or worst.
-- you have to suffer the restrictions of the OS, like Safari on the Ipad.
-- you are stuck with some UX guidelines

Note: for developers, it's another story.  
I dont trust the cloud for my personal data. It's not in my control. Flash drives and Samba file shares are more than capable of maintaining my files and cost, in the long run, less than most cloud storage places charge.

My only exception to this is my use of Amazon Cloud for music purchases. They sell me DRM free music with, at the moment, no limit on storage of songs purchased from them. I download every song i purchase anyway, but this is my one real cloud exception.

It may be a different story when it comes to work files, depending on your job, but, honestly, if your job requires some form of cloud storage for sharing documents between home, office, and coworkers, your job should be running one itself, or already have a contract with a cloud service to do so. There should be no need for the individual to have a personal cloud account for business purposes.

Just my two cents. 
It's not about cost, Bryan. It's about convenience. You have control over those file stores but at a cost. You can't get at the files when you're away from your computer. The beauty of the cloud is it gives you access across all your devices.
+Ron Miller Of course there are programs like ownCloud,, that make it easy to run a cloud from your own servers. Of course that does require you to have your own servers. For me, and a lot of the folks that read my stuff, that's not a problem. Doesn't everyone run at least two or three servers at home? :-) But, for most people, it's a real problem. Still, if you really want control and the convenience of the cloud for storage, you can have it. 
I don't know why you would unless you're highly paranoid. There are just so many ways to do this now and I have the feeling most of these services are far better equipped to secure your content than most folks running DIY cloud services.
Just read it wow! I see why you are sick, this too much. .
I do it for redundancy as much as convenience.

ownCloud is cool when it's in a fireproof another town... 
+Ron Miller I'm not paranoid, I just like having control over my systems. That said, I use both the big cloud storage systems--Dropbox and Google Drive--and my own. 
As you say, most of us are not prepared to do that even if we wanted to (which I have no desire to whatsoever).
I'm not sure I entirely agree that Android belongs there on that list, itself. You can side-load even on non-rooted devices and you can definitely log into your device and run apps offline if they don't require an internet connection--I do it all the time on my wifi-only Nexus 7. As for leaving out Windows Phone 8 from Google Maps, can you really blame them? There are more people using Blackberry and Symbian devices than all of the recent Windows Phone devices made so far. It's seems more like a proper business decision based on market share, cost and effort than any kind of lock-in (I'm not even sure how that qualifies as a form of lock-in to begin with). Just my take on it.
What can we do?  Innovate, come up with a better plan than everyone else.  Why should I feel left out because I bought a system that developers don't support?
+Dan Ramos that's true, though if we consider rooted Android devices (I have two...), should we not consider a jailbreak to an iOS device in the same ballpark at least?

(Edit: I see you more specifically stated non-rooted devices and side-loading, which is different from jailbreak.) 
+Michael Quiroz i can only slightly agree. Ubuntu (read Linux) is way more open then anything else out there, but you obviosly cannot take the linux specific software with you to another system that doesn't rely on Linux. 
(Except for booting Linux up on those systems, just as you can emulate Windows on Linux.)

I'd say the upcoming Firefox mobile system is less vendor locked, as all apps made for that are HTML5 complient and should therefore be useable on all platforms.
+Ron Miller You can't get at ANY file unless you're AT a computer. Therefore, a flash drive is perfectly convenient as virtually every computer has a USB port. As for computers within my own home, that's what my Samba share is for (and I can access my Samba shares with my phone and tablet as well).

In the end, though, you're partially right. The cloud gives convenience, but i prefer control over convenience, and the flash drives are hardly THAT inconvenient.

+Brett Legree I mean no offense, but house fire (or any house catastrophy) is the stupidest excuse for cloud storage. This is simply because out of everything you risk loosing in a disaster like that, i highly doubt anything you have on your computer would trump anything physical you may loose. I've never heard of anyone loosing their home and lementing the loss of an office document.
Except I can't connect a flash drive to my phone, Bryan. You must have a mighty narrow use case if that works for you.
+Ron Miller Your use case must be far more limited if the use of your files on your phone is of paramount concern.

As for myself, i did state i use a Samba file share, which works perfectly well on my tablet and phone. Furthermore, i did, in fact, choose a tablet (Acer Iconia) which does include a full USB port which has served up every flash drive I have inserted without issue. But even if that were not the case, i would consider SD cards to be a mobile device simile of the USB flash drive.
+Bryan Miller no offense taken, but if your backup strategy is only localized, then it is not a good strategy.

Which is stupid :-)

I doubt that my government's tax department (Canada) would accept "house fire" as a valid excuse if they decided to audit my consulting business, and I said that I could not provide the records. 
+Jason Kalka Loss of data is sad, but I say again, out of everything lost in, for instance, a house fire, an office document would rarely be the worst.
+Bryan Miller hey, your way works for you, personally I am not willing to carry around backups of my critical data - whatever works for the user is the best way, no one way is right, wrong or stupid (well, unless you have no backup!) 
Personally, I see value in both approaches.  I tend to SSH remotely from my tablet to my home server (a laptop I never take anywhere.. go figure) and I tend to get at my files remotely over a private encrypted channel for MOST things... BUT!  For my contacts lists, email, etc., I find that the cloud is a fine.  I DO wish that cloud storage ALSO meant that I could tell the OS (Android in particular for my tablet/phone) to use an ssh mounted filesystem that could dynamically mount and unmount depending on whether I had a connection or not.  This would solve a LOT of things for me (especially drive space).  I'm TRYING to stick with stock Android as much as I can, so I'm probably not making it easy (I imagine it would require a kernel driver).  It would certainly help bridge that gap between local and cloud quite a bit and hybridize it some.
Carrying a case of 3.5 floppies could work for you, but it doesn't make it efficient.
+Ron Miller It might not be the solution you wanted, but it might be the solution you needed.  ;)   "I'm Batman!"
+Ron Miller Seriously? If you do not agree with me, that's your prerogative, and I welcome the discussion. That "floppies" remark is sad. 

+Brett Legree The only real advantage the cloud gives you over flash storage is the theoretical elimination of localization issues. Sure, if my house burns, then I lose all of the data that I am not currently carrying in my pocket. I may also run the risk of loosing or damaging my drive, but that's the risk ~I~ take. With that risk, I would be stupid not to have a backup plan, but that backup plan still does not require me to surrender control of my files to a third party.

Cloud storage is always online and public. And when I say public I do not mean anyone can come and get it, but there's always a data line to it. No matter how good the security experts are at the companies you use to store your information, there's always someone smarter that can get to it if they want. Let's just hope Anonymous doesn't decide to switch from revealing e-mails to data dumping the file contents of network accessible storage... With a flash drive (or USB storage in general), if it's unplugged, no matter how good the hacker, they can't access that data.
Seriously.  Why did floppies even figure into this particular conversation at all today?  What is this, 1990?
+Bryan Miller okay, if you don't agree with what works for me, that's fine, but you won't convince me that your way is better than what works for me, and certainly not by saying what I'm doing is stupid after prepending it with "no offense" ;)

Likewise I am well aware of the risks I am taking, if Anonymous wants to dump my tax records, better that than all of my email, for me anyway.
+Bryan Miller you are just arguing over preference now.  It's an unwinnable debate because it comes down to personal opinion.  It's like the Android/iPhone/Windows Mobile debate they all have their perks and downfalls, but in the end it will come to to personal choice.  A flash drive or external hard drive is just one method of backup, a cloud storage option is another, they can both lead to stolen and lost data if the wrong people get access.
If you're going to avoid insulting people, at LEAST have the decency to start it with something like, "Jane, you ignorant slut."
+Steven Vaughan-Nichols  wrote "it said that it would no longer support Microsoft Exchange ActiveSync free of charge".   So, Google says it will no longer support, free of charge, a competitors' proprietary protocol - pushing its customers to open alternatives CalDav and CardDav - and this is a sin of lock-in? 
+Brett Legree +Jason Kalka Forgive my rantings. Both of you are right. Everyone has their preference and their is risk involved with both flash and cloud.
+Bryan Miller You had SUCH a perfect opportunity to reply to me with, 'Dan, you pompous ass."   Tsk.  :)
+Bryan Miller no worries, brother, we're geeks and we like to debate heatedly - I've got a thick skin, I worked as a sales engineer for two years ;) besides, your profile pic has a huge grin so I couldn't take your ranting too seriously...
For the record, I was using the floppy suggestion tongue firmly in cheek. It might work, but it's not very practical obviously. As for retrieving files on a phone. I do it all the time. The Google Drive tool as an example, is great for retrieving files and doing some reading or editing when I'm stuck somewhere waiting and I don't have my laptop with me. I also have a 4GB thumb drive on my keychain, but I don't use it all that often.
It might have been tongue-in-cheek but it was also hyperbole and a distraction from the more realistic points of the conversation.
The optimist in me is hoping that OpenStack and similar projects will grow into a serious counter-trend to this, but of course, only time will tell. It's hard for an older company to really change, but some are realizing that there are other ways to be competitive than controlling customers and crushing competitors.
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