Why Can’t Everything Just Get Along?

Years ago, frustrated by YouTube’s lack of connectivity between devices, I called them on it. My gripe was that while I could access a video on my PC by copying/pasting the URL into my browser, plugging that same URL into the search window on my phone got me nowhere. To my surprise, YouTube implemented this fix. How satisfying! Unfortunately, this functionality vanished a year later, when Google acquired YouTube.


There are many examples of devices not playing nicely in the sandbox. For instance, in the early 2000s, you could purchase a full-color, touchscreen mobile device from Samsung (i300) that ran Palm OS and allowed the user to set a moving mobile wallpaper by adding the proper video file. The Apple iPhone did not offer users motion in a wallpaper until not that long ago, but even now will only allow images from Apple. It also used to be that with Alexa’s Spotify connection, you could tell Siri to skip to the next track and “she” would. This is no longer the case unless using Amazon Prime Music. These are just a few examples of functionality that hardware will allow, but is being blocked or even rolled back for business reasons.

Corporations have long understood that a silo mentality doesn’t work. When departments or groups within an organization are unwilling to share information or knowledge with other individuals in the same organization, it leads to communication problems, friction, counter-productivity – and it limits growth. In contrast, some companies have achieved unprecedented success simply by being open and cooperative with partners, customers, and prospects.

Today’s internet ecosystem allows for the interconnectivity of many rule sets, data streams, and functions. As firms mature, however, they often lose sight of the open and interactive landscape in favor of locking down revenue. When solutions and conveniences are limited to a private pool of functions, and a user is unable to take advantage of them, these firms are ultimately setting themselves up for failure.

Now that many platforms factor into the equation the “customer journey” – the complete sum of experiences that customers go through when interacting with a particular company and brand – the ability to carry a transaction (a full shopping cart, for example) across multiple devices is becoming increasingly available. Amazon seems to understand that browser experience across desktop, laptop, and mobile platforms must be seamless, no matter how many times users switch devices. Apple’s “Handoff” feature allows a user to instantly move whatever activity they’re doing to whatever device they want to continue doing it with.

The next generation of platforms will need to evolve in order to claim client market share away from outdated options. The user experience is what drives long-term revenue growth, expansion into new markets, and the true “word-of-mouth” that all marketing departments strive for. Adapting to a changing landscape, opening up platforms to modular use, and offering what customers are searching for – and demanding – is what will determine which firms flourish and which don’t.

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