Make us your home page

Pick the right tech giants and place your bet on the future

Today, five behemoths — Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft — plus a dizzying array of start-ups are competing to win every dollar you spend in tech. While each of these companies offers a differing set of technologies, they all try to hook you into an ecosystem of interconnected tech.

The trouble arises when you are sold on a tech ecosystem that doesn't prosper. It's likely that at least one, if not several, of today's tech giants won't be around a decade from now. Thus, how do you avoid betting on the wrong horse?

Here's a game plan:

Buy Apple's hardware

Apple's devices are the best-designed and best-made on the market. They are also the easiest to learn to use and the most durable. And they carry a far higher resale value than rival devices.

But the best thing about Apple's hardware is that it maximizes your ability to be promiscuous with software. Apple's App Store is home to more programs than any other app marketplace. Because software is the soul of a machine, you're best off getting the gadgets that can run the widest range of software.

Use Google's services

My phone and tablet carry Apple's logo, but almost everything I do with them is routed through the search company's servers. There's Google's Gmail app for email, Google's Calendar to manage your day, Google Maps to tell you where to go, Chrome to browse the Web and even the otherwise useless Google Plus social network to back up your photos.

Throwing your data at Google is a good idea for two reasons: First, the company is incredibly good at managing it; it lets you have access to stuff on pretty much any device, anywhere in the world, all the time. Its services almost never go down, its data are extremely accurate (see Maps), and, barring intrusion by the National Security Agency, Google offers solid security (like two-factor authentication).

Buy Amazon media

This one is a no-brainer. If you're looking to buy a movie on your Windows laptop today, shouldn't you get one that will also work on an Android tablet you buy tomorrow? Different media providers offer different levels of such interoperability, but books, music and movies from Amazon are the most widely viewable. You can watch and read Amazon's media on Apple devices, Google devices, Amazon's own Kindle line and lots of other places, such as cheap streaming devices for your TV. In contrast, a book from Apple's iBookstore is probably never going to work on an Android phone.

Bet on connectors

In our multi-device world, Amazon's media store functions as what I like to call a "connector" — it bridges the chasm between otherwise foreign technologies.

This gets to the most important principle for dealing with an uncertain future: Invest your time and money in connectors. For instance, store your important documents on the cloud-storage service Dropbox because its business model depends on its working everywhere. And it does. Similarly, when someone hands you a business card, you can snap a photo of it on the note-taking app Evernote, which also functions as a connector, letting you get at your scribbles regardless of which machine you move to next. And in a cloudy future, who knows what that could be?

Pick the right tech giants and place your bet on the future 03/14/14 [Last modified: Friday, March 14, 2014 11:20pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, New York Times.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Home of Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman hits market at $3.45 million

    Real Estate

    TAMPA — The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is back on the market for $3.45 million after a brief hiatus.

    The Davis Islands home of Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman is on the market for $3.45 million. [Courtesy of Hi Res Media]
  2. Trigaux: Halfway through 2017, a closer look at six drivers of the Tampa Bay economy


    We're nearly halfway through 2017 already, a perfect time to step back from the daily grind of business and ask: How's Tampa Bay's economy doing?

    Is there one theme or idea that captures the Tampa Bay brand? Not really but here's one possibility. The fun-loving annual Gasparilla "Invasion" of Tampa is captured in this photo of 
The Jose Gasparilla loaded with pirates of Ye Mystic Krewe of Gasparilla on its way this past January to the Tampa Convention Center. In the future a vibrant downtown Tampa or St. Petersburg may be the better theme. [CHRIS URSO   |   Times]
  3. Will new laws protect condo owners from apartment conversions and rogue associations?

    Real Estate

    Danny Di Nicolantonio has lived in St. Petersburg's Calais Village Condominums for 33 years. Annoyed at times by the actions, or inaction, of the condo board and property managers, he has complained to the state agency that is supposed to investigate.

    That has left him even more annoyed.

    A bill passed by the Florida Legislature would affect places like The Slade in Tampa's Channelside district, where cCondominium owners have battled a plan to convert homes into apartments.
[Times file photo]
  4. Walmart opens first Pinellas County in-house training academy


    Seminole — It had all the hallmarks of a typical graduation: robe-clad graduates marching in to Pomp and Circumstance, friends and family packed together under a sweltering tent and a lineup of speakers encouraging the graduates to take charge of their future.

    New Walmart Academy graduates are congratulated Thursday morning by associates during a graduation ceremony at the Walmart store, 10237 Bay Pines Boulevard, St. Petersburg. The Walmart location is one of the company's training academies where managers complete a one week retail course. David Shultz and Richard Sheehan, both from St. Petersburg, get high fives from the crowd.
[SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]

  5. Lawsuit: Florida contractor fakes death to dodge angry homeowners

    Human Interest

    SEMINOLE — For weeks, Glenn Holland, 67, crawled out of bed before the sun rose to look for a dead man.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]