With so many smartphones and tablet computers on the market now consumers are spoilt for choice with the number of options available to them. For avid consumers who are interested in finding out how good a smartphone or tablet really is before a purchase, expert review websites are a hot go to to suss out which products are best for them and what any upsides or downsides to one particular product there are versus the competition. When reviewing a new smartphone or tablet, review websites often break their writing in to sections which cover: design / hardware, display, performance, battery life, camera and ‘ecosystem’. Now of those it is pretty easy to ascertain exactly what the reviewer is talking about with regards to the first 5, however within reviews the part which often draws a lot of debate amongst readers is a reviewers verdict on any products ‘ecosystem’.
So, what does ‘ecosystem’ really mean in reviews?
It’s all about the apps
For smartphones, tablets, more recently Windows 8 and any other mobile operating system an ‘ecosystem’ is a reference to a products access to apps. Applications are a means for an individual to access media and content on the move without the aid of a web browser or in cases an internet connection at all. Games, to-do tools, note taking tools and hundreds of other categories are often found in app stores with the biggest two app stores, the Google Play Store and Apple’s App Store, sporting the most diverse range of options to download.
An app ecosystem is generally regarded as solid when it ticks a number of boxes; the first of those boxes is the number of apps available in an app store, the second of those boxes is the number of apps available which support multiple screen sizes and the third box is reserved for the quality of apps available.
If you own an iOS device (any iPhone or iPod Touch) then you will have access to an app market which is regarded as the best within the technology industry. This is partly because it is considered to be the original marketplace for apps, and it also features over 700,000 applications to download. The top reason it is considered the best however is because unlike many app markets the App Store features a vast number of apps which are optimized for both the iPad and iPhone.
The Google Play Store is considered to be second best in the world of apps. Like Apple’s App Store it features over 700,000 applications for download, however it is with the quality of apps available where it falls short from its main and leading competitor. That’s not to say it is a low quality store, because on the contrary I use it every single day on my Nexus 7 and HTC One X and enjoy using it, however from the layout of the store, design of the store to the apps themselves Apple’s Store is just of a higher quality overall. Both stores, however, do feature some really terrible apps.
It’s about third party support, too
An ecosystem exists outside of apps and this surrounds accessories and third party support. If we take one product as an example being the iPhone, this device has literally millions of accessories made for it from cases, skins, docks, car gadgets plus much more. Third party accessory manufacturers are rolling in it because of the huge market available to them, and it for this reason that an iPhone is so very tempting to a lot of people; want a case which is bulletproof? Check. Want a case with a cute printed kitten on? No problem. Want to choose from thousands of car docks to fit on your whip’? That’s a given.
Accessories, docking stations and other accessories do exist for all smartphones and tablets however. Accessory manufacturers generally always support top selling Android smartphones and BlackBerry smartphones though compared to Apple’s third party ecosystem, they pail in comparison. Likewise the Google Nexus 7 has a fantastic range of cases available for it with thanks to third party manufacturers, as does the iPad range which includes a generous amount of excellent keyboard docks.
When a reviewer talks about accessories for a device, then, they’ll take a look at what’s available at the time of writing and often compare this to other competitors of that product. If there are more and better accessories for one device than the other, the product with more accessories will generally receive a better score.
In summary then a products ecosystem is defined as the amount of applications available for it, the quality of those apps, the compatibility of those apps tied together with the amount of third party manufacturer support for any one device.
About Jakk: Jakk Ogden is the founder of Technology Blogged. 25, with a love for good writing, you'll find Jakk playing 'Drag Racing' on his Nexus 5 and rocking a pair of Grado headphones. If you love technology, be sure to subscribe to his feed for unique editorials. View author profile.