How do you decide what ecosystem(s) to buy into?

15

TL;DR: Just read the first paragraph below. No need to keep going further than that.

I’m at a point where it’s time to upgrade some of the tech in my home, and I’m mulling over (and probably overthinking) my ecosystem decisions. Yes, many of us are tied of tech ecosystems, and I have heard that it’s foolish to put all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. So I’m curious: How did you all decide what ecosystem(s) were right for you? Did you base it on how accessible you wanted your digital media to be? Or what services work the best for your workflow? Or the type of hardware you prefer? Or just how simple everything tied together? Maybe some combination of the above?

My current line of thought is to go with Apple hardware since I already own a 2011 iMac that I use for work and probably won’t replace for a few more years. I’d add an Apple TV to that since it can pretty much stream everything, an iPad 9.7 while they’re still on sale, and an iPhone 7 (currently $149 at Cricket Wireless with a port-in). Since my wife and parents already use Apple hardware as well, I can still FaceTime with them when needed (I travel frequently for work), and I can download Google Duo from the App Store for my brother who is an Android user. This also means I travel light since all I’m bringing is an iPad, iPhone, and AirPods…and hopefully a Nintendo Switch after Christmas 🙂 .

On most of this Apple hardware I plan on using Google’s services mainly because Google Photos is indispensable to me right now. Since Apple doesn’t offer shared photo libraries, my wife and I can drop into each other’s libraries on Google Photos at any time and save pictures and videos of the kids, then dump them directly into a shared album with the grandparents. The unlimited photo storage also means I don’t have to pay for extra iCloud storage – my wife and I are not professional photographers, and we’re not buying flagship devices with amazing cameras, so keeping the original image quality is not a concern for us when Google’s high resolution storage is “good enough.” I also use Keep, Gmail (dat interface tho), and Google Calendar and have a shared family calendar. Yes, I realize that Google is [probably] evil and doing who knows what with my data, and I still love Microsoft, but not a single person in my circle uses Microsoft, and convincing them to abandon whatever shiny Apple or Google thing they have right now is too difficult. Ironically, I use Bing as my primary search engine over Google and will probably continue to do so. I just like Bing, can’t put my finger on exactly why.

Finally, for consumable media (books, music, movies, TV shows), my plan is to use mostly Amazon (non-Prime). I let my Prime membership lapse when it came up for renewal in November because other than the two-day shipping and the Prime Music service, I didn’t see the value in the rest of their offerings. The Prime Video streaming options, quite frankly, suck when compared to Netflix or even Hulu. But I do love Amazon Music’s web and app interfaces and the way that it handles recommendations when compared to Apple Music and Spotify. My daughter has also been clamoring for an Echo Dot so she can play music in her room and ask Alexa silly questions, and if I ever switch to Apple Music or Spotify in the future, then these two services will work with the Dot as well. For books, I use a Kindle Paperwhite currently and will probably continue to use it for reading at home but will switch to reading on the iPad when I travel. For movies, it’s really a moot point due to Movies Anywhere, but I’ll buy from iTunes first thanks to the free 4K upgrade they offer. For TV shows, I’d rather just stick to streaming those from Netflix or Hulu, but if it’s a niche show that I absolutely must own – such as Tron: Uprising – I’ll probably get it on Amazon.

Anyway, now that you have an idea of my overly-complicated thought process, how about you all?

Comments (15)

15 responses to “How do you decide what ecosystem(s) to buy into?”

  1. wright_is

    We use cross-platform services where possible.

    Most of the family are on Windows, but my eldest step-daughter has a Mac and iPad, but a Moto G5 phone. Most have Android phones, although there is a single iPhone in the mix.

    For video we just have Amazon Prime and the free online library apps on the TV for the different channels (all of the publicly available channels in Germany have their own library app, which allows you to watch all the TV content and there are extra behind the scenes clips etc.) So that covers pretty much everything - we have an Android TV, so the library apps are all there, although they are also all on the Fire TV as well and some are also available on AppleTV.

    For messaging, we use Signal and Telegram.

    Storage is through a subscription to Office 365 Home, so everybody gets 1TB of storage, which is more than enough currently. Those that want to store their photos online use OneDrive, although most don't.



    • judgejewelz

      In reply to wright_is:

      The good thing about OneDrive is that you get to keep a mirror image on your hard-drive, so it if you want to (and if you have the drive space) you can retain a local copy too; this applies to everything in OneDrive (photos, documents, music, etc). This way I can maintain a central cloud service (through OneDrive) and keep a local copy; I can also backup this local copy to another service / media. For this reason I think Microsoft has this cloud / local storage thing nailed.

  2. wp7mango

    How do you decide? Simple -


    As long as you get what meets your requirements, just buy what you like. I've opted for cross platform...


    My phone is Android, but running the Microsoft Launcher. I use Bing search, but use Google maps.


    My computer is a Surface Pro 3 with Windows 10, and I use Microsoft Office, Visual Studio, but also use many non Microsoft apps for work and play.


    I use an Amazon Fire stick for all my entertainment.


    For the smart home, we use Amazon Echo devices, including the Show, Spot, and Dot. This links are Hue bulbs and sockets, and the Hive thermostat.


    Console is an Xbox 360, but it's hardly used.


  3. Daekar

    FWIW, I like Bing better too. The results are just as good with a better UI, especially for images and videos.


    Go cross-platform, don't allow yourself to be locked in with solutions from the major platform holders. That means Spotify, Soundcloud, and Amazon Music instead of Google Play Music or Apple Music, etc.


    Maintain enough independent control of your files that you can easily migrate from one service to another. This means keeping local backups in addition to cloud backups.


    Don't pick just one platform. We back our photos up to OneDrive as a primary cloud backup, but we also send them to Google Photos and Amazon Photos.


    I feel like those with the technical knowledge and ability to manage a slightly more complex but flexible technology solution for themselves really should, because it preserves your independence from the tech companies in a way that most muggles can't achieve or don't understand. I think you're on your way to a good hybrid setup.

    • rawkfox

      Don't pick just one platform. We back our photos up to OneDrive as a primary cloud backup, but we also send them to Google Photos and Amazon Photos.


      I was thinking about going a similar route; I have more free storage space on OneDrive than Google Drive or iCloud, so I was thinking of placing my "static" photo albums (i.e. albums that I don't plan on adding any more photos to) on OneDrive and syncing to my iMac for a local copy. Then I'd keep the albums that I still frequently add photos to on Google Drive/Photos so that the rest of my family can still access them and sync those to my iMac as well.

  4. Paul Thurrott

    Generally speaking, you want portability. Try not to get locked into too many one-way, dead-end streets. Apple is infamous for this, obviously. So if I used an iPhone, I'd still use Microsoft and Google cloud services, not Apple's. Spotify or Google Play Music, not Apple Music. Etc. You don't want to be forced to make bad decisions down the road because you went in a certain direction and are now stuck there.

  5. waethorn

    Don't be a slave to brand names.

  6. infloop

    Everyone's preferences and experiences with tech is different, and what may work for me and the things I choose and like will probably not work for another.


    Use whatever it is that suits you, but also know that things will likely change in the future. There will be problems in any ecosystem and no one solution is perfect or necessarily better than another. And you don't have to change the way you do things just because other people are doing x new thing.


    It looks like you are already in a good spot regarding what you are trying to avoid with using only a single ecosystem. Another source to use for your media is the library.

  7. lordbaal1

    They all do the same thing at the end of the day.

  8. Patrick3D

    Buy physical and create your own ecosystem. An added plus is that physical goods tend to have better sale prices than digital (exception being PC/video games.)

    • rawkfox

      In reply to Patrick3D:

      With the frequency that I travel for work, this is unfortunately not realistic for my situation. I prefer digital content so that I can access it wherever I am.

      • wright_is

        In reply to RawkFox:

        You then rip them into digital form.

        We have around 1,000 CDs. I have ripped them all to disk, copied to our NAS, backed up on Carbonite and OneDrive. I can then copy what I want to my phone or stream it.

        The 2,500 DVDs on the other hand... I haven't gotten around to ripping them yet.

  9. hrlngrv

    To the extent I've bought into FOSS, it was due in part to the awk language, shell command line, and GNU R, which became the top choice in academia, which meant it was upgraded far more frequently and effectively than SAS or commercial PC alternatives.

    TBH, I started off with a commercial version of POSIX tools for MS-DOS (yes, that long ago), but I'd moved on to cygwin a decade later, then to Linux a half decade after that. For some operations, e.g., parsing values out of thousands of script-generated mainframe CICS plain text screen images, a task I needed to perform quarterly back in the 1990s, POSIX tools are ideal. It's too bad MSFT never came out with QuickPython.

    The good news about buying into FOSS is that I'm not tied to particular hardware or OSes.

  10. BlackForestHam

    1. Does it satisfy enough of my productivity and entertainment needs?
    2. Does it do so with a UX/UI that’s pleasing to my sensibilities?


    I don’t care about whether a company is “evil”, spying on me, trendy, charging me a “tax”, etc. I have chatted with friends in the US intelligence community, and have signed too many NDAs, to care anymore. They’re all “evil”, and the NSA ... yes, it’s worse than you think.




  11. Jeffery Commaroto

    Dont let other people’s definition of happiness sway you. I have largely embraced Apple. I see all the “sheeple” nonsense, the “I would never buy Apple and anyone who does is an idiot because of this obscure example that happened five years ago” stuff on this site. It makes zero impact on me. I buy things that make me happy not what makes some other random person so.


    Most of the arguments boil down to the, “Coke vs. Pepsi” variety. Lots of opinions retold as facts as if there is an actual universal law. If it works for you it works just fine.

Leave a Reply