If you are invested in an ecosystem just as much as you are totally enamored about a particular manufacturer, then you probably don’t think too much about cross-platform capabilities. The fact that your favorite brand has you covered in just about every way that you can think of on a daily basis would negate the need to think about what other platforms are doing, or what other manufacturers are including in their devices. I can see how that could make some situations easier, but at the same time it could also be plenty frustrating.

I spent so much time not really clinging to one manufacturer or software that calling myself totally invested into one ecosystem doesn’t work. I’ve spent plenty of time and money in all of them, so switching between them isn’t all that big of a deal. I have apps waiting for me, basically. However, apps don’t generate cross-platform. I can’t buy a paid version of one app, and have it be available on all platforms at a later date. Unfortunately.

No matter how hard I wish.

But, we aren’t here to talk about application availability on all the major (or minor) software platforms out there. No, instead we’re going to look at the benefits of cross-platform as a whole, and hopefully show why having a cross-platform state of mind is the right way to go. Especially for manufacturers.

Research In Motion and Apple know how to work in their own walled gardens. In the former’s case, they know what they hope will work for them. In the latter’s, they know what works, and they plan on sticking to it. However, being so closed-minded in today’s day-and-age may not be the right way to go about things. At least, not in the long run.

Microsoft has figured it out, and so has Sony in a way. For Microsoft, no matter how badly they want Windows Phone to succeed, they know that by unlocking certain features for other platforms, they’re just boosting their presence. If someone opens up a Microsoft-branded product on their iPhone or Android-based device, that person is still opening a Microsoft product, no matter how they gained access to it.

The Redmond-based company is showing off this mentality with the upcoming Xbox Music, which is set to launch later this year. While there’s no definitive dates pinned down for a launch on Android and iOS, we know it’s coming, and that’s a big step forward. They actually answered a wish of mine, which I thank them for every day. We know that Xbox LIVE is going to expand through iOS as well, and perhaps even Android later, which just opens the door for Microsoft even more.

Sony’s step in the right direction is a bit more slight. They’ve allowed HTC to run PlayStation Certified Games, which is something that’s been sequestered to only a couple Sony Ericsson/Sony-branded devices. By letting other manufacturers have a run at specific-branded platforms or features, it just means more face time with customers.

More than that, though, there’s a chance to swing them in the company’s direction, too. Specifically, let’s look at SmartGlass. We know that it will work on iOS and Android at some point in the future, but we don’t know how deep the features list will go. it would make sense for Microsoft to limit some functionality on the iOS and Android versions, but make sure that they know if they go with a Windows Phone or Windows 8 tablet, the possibilities are (figuratively) endless. It could lead to a switch if the features are truly worthwhile and work the way that Microsoft wants them to.

Microsoft’s turning a new leaf with their cross-platform focus, and there’s just no arguing that this is a step in the right direction for the company. People want different things at different times all the time. Sometimes they want an iPhone. Sometimes they want a BlackBerry. The fact that Microsoft is making it possible to use their services on more devices, no matter where you plead your allegiance, means that eyes will be on Microsoft in a more favorable way.

Are you so invested in a platform that you don’t really care what’s going on in other areas? Would you like to see more applications or software features made cross-platform, so you could stick to one but still get the cool features of another? If so, which ones? Let me know!

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