Is There On Device Competition For Cloud Services

There are currently three competing smartphone platforms, three tablet platforms and three desktop platforms. Google, Microsoft and Apple are involved in a similarly epic battle for ecosystems, and the way that they are approaching that battle is different in interesting ways.

Google's Android is the biggest player if you consider devices as a whole, irrespective of their use case. Within Android there are a subset of devices that don't use Google's Mobile Services, but most do. Having Gmail, the Play Music, Film and Book stores; Google Drive and Hangouts installed across such a wide number of devices should drive significant business Google's way.

As I discussed yesterday, there's competition on device from the OEMs, Samsung and Sony for example, push their own services; and a large number of Android devices are bought in the lower end of the market without any likelihood of further revenue being generated for Google. As a result Google actively pushes its services on iOS, where we know that more affluent and bigger spenders tend to migrate. It almost completely ignores Microsoft's platforms.

Apple may have a smaller section of the overall market, yet it tends to keep its ecosystem largely exclusive to Apple devices. You won't find any Apple applications in the Play Store or Windows Market, although it does publish some tools for Windows desktop - iTunes and Bonjour for example. Its iCloud service is also accessible across the board thanks to its web service. Apple clearly looks to build a premium experience that it then reserves for its own customers. The tools that it publishes for the desktop are a pragmatic response to the market penetration of Windows and the need to give its device owning customers a way of connecting their devices to their PCs.

Microsoft has a slightly larger market presence than Apple, if you consider all machines sold with versions of Windows, but in the hot market segment - mobile - it does very poorly. As a result Microsoft pushes its services heavily to both Android and Apple users. It has some key tools that should help adoption of these services - Skype, Outlook.com  and Office - and does seem to be making some headway, particularly since the introduction of Office for iPad.

This strategy can only work for Microsoft if users are prepared to look further than the default options on their devices. They are battling the inertia which sees users accepting the default options on their phone - Drive, G+ and Hangouts for Android, iCloud and iMessage for iOS. 

But Microsoft does have one advantage when cloud services and ecosystems are compared - Microsoft's tools are universally available - there is no mainstream platform (and few smaller ones) that don't have access to Microsoft's services. If you're a user who doesn't like to be tied into a relationship which prevents you changing platform then Microsoft's services are really the most sensible place to be. 

In reality though, most users aren't interested. They will use what's on their device by default unless they already have a reason to change. 

Given that Microsoft has set its stall out to be the cloud first, mobile first company that isn't a great piece of news. 

It needs to figure out how it gets users to covet it services if it's going to make this strategy work. 

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