I recently joined in the “App Defaults” trend and posted about the apps and services I use. I’ve now actually listened to the episode of the podcast that started it - it’s a very tongue-in-cheek game show where Jason Burk and Martin Feld complete to be crowned the person using the most “default” apps, the ones that come bundled with their phone / computer.
It was a fairly entertaining hour in the background, but it got me thinking about big companies destroying small ones.
I have great respect for smaller companies, particularly ones that run their services for a sustainable profit, rather than for a big VC funded valuation whilst looking for a buyout. I'm thinking of companies like 37 Signals, Pinboard.in, Standard Notes and to some extent Proton.
Whilst I totally resonated with the reasoning in the episode of the simplicity of just using what’s already there, I think there’s a moral downside to it.
When the big gatekeepers like Apple and Google rip off other apps and then bundle them into the devices they sell, it becomes so much harder for a rich ecosystem of smaller, better behaved companies to survive. They have to compete not just against free, but also against the app being right there already.
And when we use these default apps we enable this big bad tech behaviour.
An example I’m guilty of - Google Photos - It was unlimited free, right there on my phone, and it was actually really good! It remained unlimited and free until the smaller photo management apps and services went out of business. Then it became paid. (Knowing Google and their very short attention span it will probably be scrapped in a few years anyway).
A slightly different example - last year Apple introduced a bundled journaling app to iOS. Really tough for all the small independent journaling apps out there. You’ve got to be at least 10x better for someone to even use you app now, let alone pay for it.
You also run the risk of losing access to all of your data when you put all of your eggs in one basket, as has happened to some people.
p.s. no disrespect to Jason, Martin and those that use default apps, we're all entitled to choose the apps we use, and the things that we value are different for different people.
p.p.s And also if you've read my list then you know I'm guilty of doing exactly what I've said I shouldn't