Numbers make the world go round. Whether it’s the 1.5-billion people in China which makes it a market Apple wants to be in, or the 800-million people using Facebook Messenger instead of anything else– big numbers would appear to help reduce the fragmented world of personal technology. That’s not exactly the case.
Through the years Apple has sold a billion or so iOS devices. Microsoft Windows and Google’s Android can boast larger numbers, but nothing is as ubiquitous as ancient technology. For example, if we desire to call someone on the phone, anywhere in the world, we can probably do it. All we need is a phone number.
FaceTime is the video calling app of choice. For Apple’s customers; Mac, iPhone, iPad. If you want to FaceTime with a Windows PC user, or someone with an Android device, you’re out of luck. For that, you’d need Skype, which has somewhere around 400-million active users. Unlike FaceTime, Skype can be on nearly every device but isn’t used nearly as much as Facebook Messenger which boasts 800-million users.
To many internet users, Facebook is the internet, and Messenger is how they communicate with one another. Voice chat, text chat, group chats, file sharing options (photos, videos, audio), and ubiquity are the rules of Messenger.
Yes, you can do all that and more with Skype and with FaceTime but big numbers matter. Almost everyone uses Facebook and most of those users also use Messenger, which also works on Apple Watch.
Here’s the problem. Way back in the day all you needed to do to contact someone was to send a letter (address required) or call them on the phone (phone and phone number required). Today’s technology world is fragmented and overcrowded with multiple ways to do much the same thing. We live in a connected and interconnected world with many ways to communicate; one to one or one to many.
The problem with that fragmentation is simple. Not everyone is on Facebook. Not every Facebook user is on Messenger. Not everyone is on FaceTime, or Skype, or WhatsApp, or Twitter, or whatever new and trendy communication medium making the rounds. That forces technology users to manage multiple apps, invest time in multiple services, and keep track of who uses what device or what app simply so we can keep in touch.
Mincey folk are not big on Twitter or Facebook, and since we’re mostly– but not completely– an Apple household, we rely heavily on FaceTime and Messages, but with a few black sheep that bear the Mincey name and use Android and PC devices, we have to diverse and that means Skype and Facebook Messenger are also requirements on our Macs, iPhones, and iPads.
See? Fragmentation rules.
We’ve replaced stamps and envelopes, phone numbers and phone calls, with an array of communication devices and options. And judging by the political and social landscape in the 21st century, I don’t think that’s helped us to communicate any better.