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Battle of the Media Ecosystems: Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft 79

Posted by Soulskill
from the my-money-is-on-whichever-makes-streaming-live-sports-not-suck dept.
bsk_cw writes "This article takes a long look at four major consumer tech ecosystems — Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft — and examine how well (or badly) they're serving up their media. The authors talk about how each company approaches gaming, music, video, books, etc., and how each integrates all its parts into some kind of whole. The conclusion? That none of the four can be said to be the best in all things, but they're certainly trying."
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Battle of the Media Ecosystems: Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft

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  • Subj (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 02, 2013 @01:46PM (#44458715)

    What's an ecosystem? Another marketing term to having one company providing you a set of services?

    • Re:Subj (Score:4, Insightful)

      by h4rr4r (612664) on Friday August 02, 2013 @01:58PM (#44458875)

      Mod this guy up.

      Screw ecosystems. Just use well documented open standards and let everyone cooperate. Just because someone has a phone from company B does not mean they should not be able to play media from company C.

    • Re:Subj (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Mitchell314 (1576581) on Friday August 02, 2013 @02:08PM (#44458997)
      Apparently it means "a garden with walls slowly being built around it"
      • Re:Subj (Score:4, Insightful)

        by GameboyRMH (1153867) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {hmryobemag}> on Friday August 02, 2013 @02:10PM (#44459029) Journal

        The walls are quite well-established in all of those, they're just not done making them a thousand feet tall, covered in grease, topped with spikes and surrounded by lava moats.

        • by RJFerret (1279530)

          The walls are quite well-established in all of those, they're just not done making them a thousand feet tall, covered in grease, topped with spikes and surrounded by lava moats.

          So...you're saying a Mario Bros game then?

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          They are all easily cracked. In fact my preferred ecosystem, BitTorrent, provides "webrips" which are videos originating from these DRM encumbered services and fixed so I can watch them.

          The wall is more like a low row of stones you might occasionally trip over.

    • by timeOday (582209)

      What's an ecosystem? Another marketing term to having one company providing you a set of services?

      Nope. Every one of these ecosystems is defined by hardware devices as well as services/information. The restrictions on the hardware are integral to defining the boundaries of the "ecosystem."

    • by alen (225700)

      an ecosystem is itunes and google play. where the media you buy only work on the devices and OS of the companies that sell it to you

      unlike say Amazon Kindle where you can read a kindle book on almost every device out in the market today from a PC to a blackberry

  • by SuperKendall (25149) on Friday August 02, 2013 @01:56PM (#44458839)

    "However, while Amazon has its Amazon account and Google has Google Wallet, Apple has no central place you can go to put in your identity and credit card information,"

    Apple has iTunes. Perhaps you've heard of it?

    You enter a card one time and you then can buy any media or apps you like with it, anywhere.

    The whole list struck me a really vapid and lazily assembled, that was just one example. It would have been far more interesting to compare QUALITY of libraries, and to include companies like Netflix in the mix. Yes Amazon has a growing video library for example, but it sucks horribly compared to Netflix (I have prime and Netflix stream so I can use either).

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by dlingman (1757250)

      If you actually read the article, they are saying things like google wallet lets you shop at many retailers. Itunes lets you shop at Apple. I can't use the fact that my card info is in itunes to shop elsewhere online.

      • Yes I read the article, that point is nonsense in an article talking about how the companies are doing in the MEDIA MARKET.

        In practice I have an Amazon payment account set up, and also an Apple payment account. For stuff purchased frequently that either sell it works the same to me.

    • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      Apple's reliance on iTunes really hurts them. If you search for video the results will have links to the Amazon and Google Play web sites where you can buy and stream/download it directly. If you even get a link to the iTunes website all it does is tell you to download and install the application to view it. Even the malware guys mostly gave up on the "download an app to view this site" gambit years ago.

      They really limit their market by requiring iTunes. You can't even buy DRM-free MP3s from them without it

      • They really limit their market by requiring iTunes. You can't even buy DRM-free MP3s from them without it.

        I would suggest they have only limited themselves from Linux only users - hardly a large enough market segment to get really concerned. They have more credit cards of file than even Amazon (and sell VASTLY more online music/video than Amazon) so obviously Apple is doing something right.

        Yes you can buy video from Amazon and stream it in a browser but with more limited control than iTunes offers over pl

        • Yes you can buy video from Amazon and stream it in a browser, ios/android app, roku player, and any number of smart tvs and blu-ray players with less limited control than iTunes offers over playing video

          FTFY

          • Yes, I know, I watch Amazon video on a PS3 myself.

            It's kind of stupid to bring that up when the original point was Amazon video was great because you didn't need a dedicated plater like iTunes... then you come and say "look at all the dedicated players!!" :-)

            My point was not that you need a browser to play Amazon video, my points (not well isolated to be sure) were:

            1) Amazon video playback in the browser stinks (as does any browser based video playback).

            2) The Amazon video service itself stinks - you can us

        • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          How do I buy something from iTunes without having iTunes installed?

          • How do I buy something from iTunes without having iTunes installed?

            It may not count in your terms, but you you can buy stuff from iTunes on any iOS device, or an Apple TV.

            I'm not sure why it's a problem that you have to have iTunes installed on a PC to purchase, it hasn't mattered for the vast majority of humanity.

            • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

              iTunes is bloated crapware on Windows, and I can't be bothered to ridiculously long EULA.

  • by jkrise (535370) on Friday August 02, 2013 @01:59PM (#44458879) Journal

    A desktop is a large tablet that you often touch.

    A tablet is a device that runs an operating system and apps developed with desktops in mind

    Windows RT is a Windows operating system that does not run programs built for Windows; even those developed on Windows by Microsoft

    On a desktop operating system you can close the desktop and that is the normal mode of operating the desktop computer

    As clear and delineated as Ballmer's press mutterings and utterings.

  • Ecosystem (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Archangel Michael (180766) on Friday August 02, 2013 @02:02PM (#44458935) Journal

    I'll will purchase from the ecosystem that gives me portable and universal access. MP3s

    • Why only MP3s?
    • So, Amazon then. (I wasn't logged in before ...)
  • by TerminaMorte (729622) on Friday August 02, 2013 @02:14PM (#44459079) Homepage
    As far as I'm concerned, as long as they don't have an Amazon instant video app for android they've already lost.
    • by barlevg (2111272) on Friday August 02, 2013 @02:21PM (#44459163)
      I suspect this is a "feature" not a "bug," since instant video is basically your only incentive to get a Kindle Fire. It's actually kind of a royal "fuck you" to Google to say, "Hey, thanks for doing all the heavy lifting making this Android OS. We're just gonna take it, remove your app store in favor of our own, and develop an app that only works INSIDE our walled garden. Thanks!"
      • by alen (225700)

        android is open source

        the whole point is you take the code, do whatever you want with it and only give back your code changes. the whole point of open source is that you and your competitors both contribute to the code base and either make commodity cheapo stuff or somehow make your product stand out from the others with the same code base

  • What about Netflix? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Friday August 02, 2013 @02:21PM (#44459165) Homepage
    I cut our cable cord a while back to go to netflix. This saved around $60 per month (I had about the cheapest cable possible). This was a massive savings with a huge boost in quality. While Netflix does not have everything neither did my cable package. Not one of the 4 people in my household have complained even once about losing cable.

    But using an apple TV I was looking at the prices and saw that access to some TV season would cost me $34. That is bonkers. The whole idea of cutting the cord was not only to stop paying my cable company but to break the ridiculous model that Hollywood has been forcing on us for years. If you watch a TV show on some form of broadcast or cable the producer makes around $0.10 to $0.25 per household for the first showing from the advertisers. So a TV series for download (which effectively is a rerun) is somehow expecting to make double or triple that? Even renting an entire series physically was cheaper than that.

    So I don't know why the article focused on the 4 systems that seem set on bringing back a variation of a model that has had its neck snapped by Netflix. About the only feature they offer that is newish is the "Downloading is so convenient." A short while ago I was talking with a mid-level movie exec who said a model people were getting excited about was to have new releases available for download for a huge huge price. The idea was that some people had lots of money and huge screens. So they would have their friends over and it would all be exciting. The exec was gleeful about the idea of screwing not only the viewer but the theatres too.

    My guess is that all these execs forget about piracy as an ever present competitor. So they dream up spreadsheets that compare their prices to the prices paid to traditional media. Many people are paying well in excess of $100 per month in Cable. So they say "If we can get them to come to our service we could nail them for at least $80!" What they are forgetting is that people are resistant to change. They will hold on and on to their existing package and then when they make the leap it will be a big one.

    Quite simply people are getting more and more really cheap and really good options. Also with iTunes I don't know how much I am going to be paying. At $2 minimum per show it would take a lazy rainy Saturday in this house to blow by my monthly fee for Netflix. I could see a household that didn't really monitor its iTunes to blow past $1000 in a month.

    A great line I read recently went something like this. "I'm not sure who will change faster, Netflix becoming more like HBO or HBO becoming more like Netflix." I don't think anyone sane will be saying, "How long before Netflix becomes more like Warner?"

    I am not saying that Netflix is the be all and end all; it is just that it crosses a critical threshold in that it makes piracy not worth anyone's time. So maybe Netflix won't be the winner. But the winner will be more like Netflix than iTunes.
    • by swb (14022)

      The problem with Netflix is in many cases you don't have access to current season TV shows, and streaming has a pretty crappy movie selection (don't blink, the movie you want may be available for a limited time and then you'll miss it...) DVDs are great, but now you're waiting. Two at a time is OK, but two movies isn't much for a long holiday weekend.

      And then there's offline viewing -- why can't I watch Netflix instant offline? Surely there's some DRM they could apply similar to rentals from Amazon and A

    • For me neither is a replacement for another. Netflix is great if they have the title you want. If they don't (as they don't always have new releases or certain titles), you have to use iTunes or Amazon or something else. Case in point: Doctor Who Season 7 Parts 1 and 2. Part 1 started Sept 2012 and Part 2 January 2013. Neither are on Netflix and a new doctor will be unveiled for Season 8 in several weeks.
      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        I just wait for the DVDs in that case.

        I am pretty resistant to paying for anything that also has advertising. Which is why I will not pay for hulu plus.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      But using an apple TV I was looking at the prices and saw that access to some TV season would cost me $34. That is bonkers. The whole idea of cutting the cord was not only to stop paying my cable company but to break the ridiculous model that Hollywood has been forcing on us for years. If you watch a TV show on some form of broadcast or cable the producer makes around $0.10 to $0.25 per household for the first showing from the advertisers. So a TV series for download (which effectively is a rerun) is someh

    • by peteMG (87639)

      Also with iTunes I don't know how much I am going to be paying. At $2 minimum per show it would take a lazy rainy Saturday in this house to blow by my monthly fee for Netflix. I could see a household that didn't really monitor its iTunes to blow past $1000 in a month.

      Wait a sec. $1000 in a month at $34/season is 29 complete seasons of TV. You're going to watch that much in 31 days?

  • by bobstreo (1320787) on Friday August 02, 2013 @02:28PM (#44459259)

    No DRM:

    eBooks:
    www.gutenberg.org

    Texts, Movies, Audio, Education:
    www.archive.org

    • I show people that site all the time and they are 'meh'. They would much rather be advertised to and sold something then seek it out for themselves.
      • by alen (225700)

        you can get good kindle ebooks very cheap. sites like ereaderiq track books and authors and alert you for price drops. i bought ender's game for $5 last week. then it dropped to $3.

        the only expensive books are the new releases people want to read NOW when they come out

  • by barlevg (2111272) on Friday August 02, 2013 @02:44PM (#44459433)
    Like probably most people, I started with iTunes (originally, I was even using it with a non-iPod mp3 player, burning tracks to a CD-RW 20 at a time, then ripping them back). I stuck with it for a good long while, even going to the trouble of maintaining an old iMac G4 (beautiful art piece of a computer, btw) just to run it and to allow me to sync my iPod, even after switching all my Windows computers to Linux (this was back in the day when iTunes support in Wine was a fevered dream).

    Then Google Music came along. At first, I thought the idea of storing all my music in the cloud was ludicrous (Google will seriously let you store tens of GB of music NOT purchased from them FOR FREE? Gotta be a catch), but when the headphone jack in my Gen 1 iPod Touch gave out, I decided to give it a shot and make my Android phone my primary audio device. It was brilliant--namely the ability to cache music offline; they really won me over, and since then, my poor iMac has been relegated to the role of multimedia server (got a bunch of external Firewire HDs hooked up to it), and I don't think I've spent a dime on iTunes in years.

    So now what I'm wondering is whether there will ever be a service that does for video what Google did for music, in the sense that you can take your DVDs and other video content and upload them to the cloud, for access anywhere, any time. Of course, DVD encryption means that *in theory* you shouldn't be able to rip a DVD like you can a CD, and I actually know of not one legal source of non-DRM purchasable video content, so I suspect the answer is that there will NEVER be a service that allows you to store your existing, "physical" video library in the cloud. But if such a service existed, and it allowed me to cache offline, I think they'd "win."
  • Now, with chromecast, you can play back your media on any display with an HDMI port.

    ecosystems are becoming a thing of the past.

  • Amazon?

    This really isn't in the picture for a lot people outside the US. And that's important in a discussion like this. Sure it may dominate a lot of the world, in so many places it is a brand we are aware of, we understand it's dominance, but we don't buy from it/use it's services.

    An ecosystem can not live off the US and a small group of markets alone.

Whenever people agree with me, I always think I must be wrong. - Oscar Wilde

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