Specs don't matter - ecosystem does

Specification of anything are huge in the technology industry. When a new phone or tablet leaks, the first thing on everybody’s links is always “What are the specs?”. But why?

Specs are something that we can chart - we can say “this product is better than this product because it has this processor and this much RAM.” We can chart it, we can graph it. And as humans, we like doing that. It’s part of human nature to compare things and chart things against each other. We do it to other humans, products, animals...we do it to pretty much anything.
In a way, it’s the same as benchmarking a phone - it shows us how fast a particular product is compared to another similar product. It doesn’t show us how fast it is in real world usage, but it shows us how fast it really is.

Thing is, specs don’t matter anymore. Specs on phones and tablets have got so good that it doesn’t really matter what we buy - it’ll be good, whatever phone or tablet you purchase. It’ll outperform anything from even a year ago - look at the jump between the Tegra 2 and Tegra 3 processors, or the jump between the Apple A5 and the Apple A6.
We don’t need to chart that this phone is better than this phone - yet we still do. It’s human nature. We do it subconsciously. We can’t stop doing it.
In the same way, benchmarking doesn’t really matter - as I said before, what really matters is the real world usage - how fast the world is when you’re actually using it, with apps open and battery charge being drained.

What does matter, however, is ecosystem. The ecosystem we choose is all important. When I first got a smartphone (a Nexus One in January 2011), I decided on Google’s ecosystem, (although back then I didn’t call it that). Little did I know that this would make it difficult in the future to move to another OS, such as Windows Phone. I am now locked into the ecosystem I chose way back in 2011. Moving to Windows Phone would mean that I would lose all my paid apps, all the books I’ve bought, and if the UK had Google Play movie purchases and Google Play Music, the purchases from them. I’d basically be starting from scratch.

If I was starting completely from scratch, no purchased content on any of the ‘big three’, but knew all of this information, I’d certainly be a lot more careful. In the end I’d probably choose Android again, but it would be a tough battle - because what’s to say in two years from now, the ecosystem landscape won’t have changed massively again? The mobile phone market has changed significantly from September 2010.

Another thing that I feel is important here is that we WILL see advancement in all three of the major mobile OS’s. We’ll see innovation and new features come to all three. Specs, on the other hand, have got so good that I doubt we’ll see any advancement beyond quad core processors in the next few years. Sure, they’ll get smaller, they’ll get more battery efficient, but I don’t see that as innovation - I just see it as progress. Good progress, yes, very good, but progress all the same.

Summing up, I think that in the next two years the mobile landscape will change massively again. We’ve got Windows Phone 8 and a possible new version of Android next month or before the end of the year. Then RIM launch their comeback in Q1 2013 and Firefox launch their unique mobile OS at around the same time. It’ll be an interesting year.