As software companies and websites create apps, proprietary platforms, and their own hardware the idea of the walled garden as it relates to information sharing is becoming more apparent. In many cases our internet usage tendencies are tracked, stored, and sold via cookies and spyware. On the other hand many companies are going great lengths to not only make sure that information stays theirs, but to also make sure we are only using their products. Google is one of the best examples. Upload a cute video of your 5-year-old niece on YouTube and you’ll be prompted to share it via e-mail—but not just any email—GMail. Want to share it on social media? A share on Google+ is just a click away. In this instance, the walls to the garden are only so high. You can still share the adorable video on Tumblr, Twitter, or Facebook by selecting any one of the number of the options under the “share” button or even just share the link on the platform of your choosing. But take Apple Music for example. I have thousands of songs I’ve amassed over the years during iTunes’ dominance when it came to (legally) downloading music.
Currently, there’s no way for me to play that music other than on my laptop, iPhone, or iPad. There’s no way for that music to be shared on my LG Smart TV or via my Chromecast device. But if I were to purchase Apple TV I’d have instant access to all of the Black Eyed Peas my heart could handle. This is a prime example of the walled garden extending beyond software and into the realm of hardware and products. In this case the wall is so high I can’t even run a hose atop of it, let alone see over it. This is a phenomenon that I call tunnel vision technology where companies are trying to make sure you live completely in a world of their creation (keeping you in their “tunnel”). You can use their software/app, but you must also use their product to fully enjoy the experience. Apple’s success in this arena is incomparable. From iTunes to the iPod to the iPhone to the iPad — Apple is tops at creating cult-like allegiance among their consumers by building a walled garden around your information. Though, as competition grows, their dominance shrinks.
My Chromecast, for example, allows for outside apps like Spotify, HBO, Netflix, et al. to be streamed through the device and onto my TV. In my case, this makes Chromecast more valuable given its openness to incorporate outside apps and enjoy more of the content I love, the way I want to love it.