Do you care about app exclusivity?

Published: April 10, 2012

Over the last week or so, pretty much everyone has been made to bear witness to some of the most startling cases of fanboyism and whatever else you want to call it (some of you got pretty colorful on social networks), due entirely to the fact that a particular application had finally found its way to another platform. Yes, Instagram. Instagram! While it had plenty of time to make the rounds on Apple's mobile operating system, iOS, the time finally came to launch it for Google's Android, and there was a few moments there where I thought the whole Internet was going to explode.

Some of the remarks were outrageous. Actually, I'd go as far to say that most of the comments were pretty much ridiculous. It's one thing to be upset that an "exclusive" application has landed on a competing platform, but to go out and start calling names, or being derogatory in any kind of way crosses so many lines, it's frustrating to see and hear. But, that's all Twitter was filled with (along with other social networks) after Instagram went live for Android.

While it's mostly died down on its own merits, it was brought up all over again yesterday when it was revealed that Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion. While it would seem that those two things are completely disconnected, that didn't stop people from trying to make connections.

It just doesn't make any sense.

At least, it didn't, but now that I've started to look at it from a different perspective, I'm beginning to see how these people are getting so angry. No, I'm not saying that they should be saying the things they are, not by any means. It's not a bad thing that Instagram is available for Android. Not for the developers, and certainly not for the Android owners out there who want to see what all the fuss is about.

I can understand where these people who hung onto the idea of an exclusivity to iOS are coming from, because while this may be the first time (that I can remember) that an application has caused this much chaos after launching on another platform, this isn't a rare experience in another market: video games.

If you have a home console, you may or may not prefer one over another. If you do, then you probably get a little miffed that a top-tier title gets announced for the other console, and you just get to live vicariously through everyone else who gets to play it. But, while that kind of stuff happens all the time, there's one situation that is very similar to this Instagram thing.

For example, Mass Effect. This is a title, a AAA title mind you, that saw an exclusive stretch on Microsoft's Xbox 360 home console. But then when the third (and final?) title was announced, it was also revealed that the game would be launching for Sony's PlayStation 3 home console.

Chaos, right? Nope. Despite the fact that Mass Effect has raked in a ridiculous amount of money, and there were plenty of people out there using the, "But we have Mass Effect!" in console arguments all over the world, there wasn't a huge, disastrous fallout all over the Internet. Sure, Xbox 360 owners didn't have that argument anymore, but oh well. In the long run, who cares? There will be other exclusive deals struck, other games that find their way to one console versus another. But, it isn't a bad thing that a video game launches for multiple consoles.

And the same thing can be, and should be, said for applications. Developers create these great apps for people to use, but the only reason any kind of exclusivity talk should come up, is when the developer decides it. Obviously Instagram found plenty of fame on iOS, but Instagram's higher-ups have always been pretty up-front about a future release on another platform (Android), and here we are. It's finally happened, and the world didn't end.

People were upset about Mass Effect 3 launching on the PlayStation 3, but the hate never reached the level it did involving this Instagram mess. Let's just try and remember that applications are meant to be enjoyed, and hopefully by everyone at some point or another. Getting angry that one app is available for two platforms instead of one is just silly.

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