As more and more enterprises push innovative products that break the ceiling of what’s possible with tech, a worrisome trend is emerging.
Companies are offering cutting-edge features to only a subfraction of the market.
Take Apple AirPods, for example. With beyond impressive Active-Noise Cancellation(ANC) and industry-leading transparency mode, the Apple AirPods are a no-brainer for anyone in the market for earbuds. Even for users outside the Apple ecosystem.
But all the bells and whistles are locked into the Apple ecosystem. Even basic level functionality, like firmware updates, are inaccessible if someone outside the Apple ecosystem thinks of purchasing Apple AirPods.
Is Apple leaving money on the table? I think, yes.
If anyone deep in the Microsoft or Google ecosystem really, really wants to purchase Apple AirPods, their hands are tied and cannot justify the purchase. Would these users jump ship to Apple? Highly Unlikely. But could a Microsoft store or Google Play Store compatible app bridge the gap and bolster cross-ecosystem sales? Yes.
On the other hand, take OnePlus. The renowned smartphone company has an impressive line-up of earbuds. With seamless integration within the OnePlus ecosystem, their buds are the de facto choice when buying earbuds. But OnePlus goes 1 step further.
By leveraging 3rd-party apps, OnePlus unlocks support for most, if not all, the features across other Android devices as well. Even in the Apple Ecosystem.
If someone in the Apple ecosystem only wants core product features like impressive ANC, good sound signature, well-rounded transparency mode, an IP rating at a fraction of the cost, and can live without support for features like Spatial Audio, OnePlus makes a solid argument. And they come in black, among other colorways.
Would someone jump ship to the OnePlus ecosystem just to buy earbuds in black? Unlikely.
But could OnePlus undercut a small percentage of revenue Apple generates from its AirPods line-up and turn it into a viable revenue stream for themselves? It depends. One thing is certain: OnePlus is ready, regardless.
OnePlus also currently locks the ‘nice-to-have’ features like Spatial Audio to the OnePlus ecosystem. But if they were to open it to other platforms, that would indeed be a robust offering!
Let’s shift focus to smartwatches.
With Wear OS app, Google offers support for watches running on Android in the Apple ecosystem. However, there is no way to pair an Apple Watch with an Android device. If someone likes the Apple Watch form factor, or wants added safety that comes with the fall detection and crash detection features, they are out of luck.
Are those features not important for Android users? Sure are. Is Apple blocking its own sales? Sure is.
While proprietary efforts enhance brand value, it is only a lose-lose situation when end-users cannot derive utility out of them.
Businesses lose a potential revenue boost, and customers find alternates to products they really wanted.
Is ecosystem-independence overrated? Only the contrary.