It is simply a battle of ecosystems?
Everyone has their favourite smartphone and tablet. Ask them why they love it and they'll probably rattle off a list of specs and features which help it stand out from the crowd -- the slender design, amazing display, raw grunt, varied connectivity and impressive photographs. Clearly it's the best gadget money can buy, with the OS and ecosystem the icing on the cake.
But here's an interesting experiment. Imagine that the iPhone 5 ran Windows Phone 8, the Galaxy S III ran iOS and the Lumia 920 ran Android. Think about it seriously -- would you still be blown away by all those amazing features if your gadget of choice was suddenly part of a different ecosystem?
I think we simply pick out the best parts of the spec sheet to justify our bias. Android owners wouldn't be as impressed by the Galaxy S III's raw grunt if it ran Windows Phone 8. Alternatively the Lumia 920's impressive camera and strong mapping features would lose their appeal for WinPho 8 lovers if it suddenly ran Android. We'd all simply go back to the spec sheet and pluck out the biggest numbers to support our love of our platform of choice.
When you think about it this way, the gadget wars will never be won with gadgets. Nokia's new Lumia 920 could print money and it would still struggle to win over Apple and Android fans. So how does Microsoft claw back market share from its established competitors? It's all about the ecosystem -- about offering devices which play nicely together and make your life easier, rather than devices which simply boast the best spec sheet.
Microsoft is actually leading the way with Windows 8, uniting computers and handheld gadgets under the one interface and ecosystem. But to be honest I'm not confident that Microsoft can pull it off. Not because Windows 8 is terrible but because Microsoft is terrible at selling itself. I saw my first Windows 8 advertisement on television last night and it simply looked like an iPad wannabe. There was no sense of the ecosystem and smooth interoperability between devices, because that would require a consistent wider strategy which Microsoft seems incapable of maintaining.
Surface tablets were treated as an aside at last week's Windows 8 launch and only two units were available for the country's tech media to try out. The so-called pop-up Windows 8 stores around the country are reportedly not much to get excited about either. Meanwhile Windows Phone 8 was relegated to an entirely separate launch this week. Individually these Microsoft gadgets will struggle to win people away from Apple and Android, regardless of their spec sheets. The ecosystem is the killer feature, but Microsoft seems so large and fragmented that the left and right hands never synchronise their calendar appointments.
What floats your boat, a sexy spec sheet or a smooth ecosystem? How will they influence the gadget wars?