I want to see an end to exclusive apps

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| Published: March 7, 2014

I have no doubt that it's a direct result of switching so often between mobile platforms, but if there's an app out there that's supported on multiple operating systems, I'm going to (usually) always choose that one. Whether it's the way I listen to music or watch videos, I tend to lean the way that makes sure I can always access that content, no matter which platform I may find myself on at any given moment.

I have, in the past, worked my purchases around one ecosystem, though. I've actually done that more than a few times, probably. When I wrote about having a one ecosystem household back at the end of 2012, I was looking to do the same thing for my own home. Since then, it's devolved back into the chaotic state it usually finds itself, with multiple platforms available from phones and tablets.

The strength of apps and features has grown practically exponentially over the years, to become the all-important aspects of our mobile devices these days. That's why companies create their own, and aim to make them just a little bit better than the alternatives out there. They want you to love their own creation more than anything else, because they want you to stick around.

But, exclusives have a way of immediately limiting something, and I just have a hard time seeing that as a good thing.

I know what it's like to be invested in an ecosystem, and for a lot of people that's reason enough to stick with the options that that particular company offers. If you're a fan of Samsung, then using the apps and services they've created over the years makes sense, especially if you don't plan on switching from a Samsung product anytime soon. Apple, HTC, and other companies out there all have the same aspirations, even if they have their own unique ways to get that job done.

For me, personally, I just don't see the appeal when it comes to some apps. Apps that, for all intents and purposes, would serve a much better purpose if they were available for more people, right out of the gate. Let's face it: If an app launches on one platform, or one device, it's probably not going to last in that state for very long. Eventually, even if it takes time, it'll launch on other devices. I wouldn't necessarily say it's inevitable, but it's pretty close.

Samsung, like Apple, has a knack for creating things that only work on their devices. The idea is obvious: make cool things, and people will want to buy your stuff. Nothing wrong with that. But, when we're dealing with something like, say, an app to listen to music, it just seems silly to me to limit it at all. Limitations may be present in the software, especially when it comes to features of a brand new app or service, but there shouldn't be any limitation to availability. (Outside of realistic expectations, mind you.)

Earlier today, Samsung introduced a brand new music listening app, called Milk. (Yes, there's probably an entire article that could be written on product naming, but we'll save it for another day.) The app, Milk, is designed to give you a new way to listen to music, all from a catalog of 13 million songs. The whole show's powered by Slacker, another radio service that lets you create stations to listen to your jams whenever you want.

Slacker Radio still exists and a lot of people use it. You can download it on an Android-based device if you want. Or, if you have a Galaxy-branded phone, you can download the brand new Milk -- and *only* if you have a Galaxy-branded phone. So, you can create stations that are customized just for you, which takes time and (some) effort, but the moment you ditch that Galaxy phone, all those tunes go with it. Why? Because you're not using a supported Galaxy phone, that's why!

Or, "Because Samsung said so."

I see this as an answer to Apple's iTunes radio, but there's one big missing piece: no way to buy songs. One of the best parts of iTunes Radio is the 'purchase' button, which will let you buy a song that you're listening to right from the app. It's interconnectedness with iTunes just makes the app that much better. Milk is missing that functionality.

That's a little thing, though. The biggest issue is that this is just a Samsung app, designed for Samsung Galaxy-branded handsets. I understand where Samsung is coming from, but the app actually looks good, and I think a few consumers out there would love to get their hands on it (without having to do any kind of extra work, other than download it from Google Play, mind you) and try it out.

Essentially, I just want to see these types of exclusivities end. Whether it's something like this, with just an app or service, all the way up to carrier exclusives, I want more options for consumers. So, tell me, how you feel about these things. Does it matter? Do you wish you'd see fewer exclusive deals out there? Let me know what you think.