I Don't Want To Be Part of Your Fucking Ecosystem

I was chatting with a friend who expressed what I'm finding is a fairly common opinion.

Well, yes, I'd love to move to Android - but all my content is in iTunes.

I discovered that it wasn't apps which were the problem - buying them again is a pain, but most are free. It's media content which traps people into staying with services that they no longer want.

Music, movies, TV, and podcast subscriptions. All tied up in Apple's little ecosystem. A very pretty noose to keep people chained to its hardware.

Imagine, just for a moment, that your Sony DVD player would only play Sony Movies' films. When you decided to buy a new DVD player from Samsung, none of those media files would work on your new kit without some serious fiddling.

That's the walled garden that so many companies are now trying to drag us into. And I think it stinks.

On a mobile phone network in the UK, you can use any phone you want. Hardware and services are totally divorced. It promotes competition because customers know that if they have a poor experience with HTC, they can move to Nokia and everything will carry on working just as it did before.

But, if all of your contacts, entertainment services, and backups are chained into HTC - well, then you're just shit out of luck if you want to move.

I want to see a complete separation of church and state here. Hardware should be separate from software. Software should be separate from services.

I want to watch Nokia movies on my Samsung hardware running Google's Android, and then back them up to DropBox.

That's how it works - more or less - in the PC space. I don't understand why it doesn't in the tablet and smartphone space? Why would I buy a tablet that only worked with content from one provider? Whether that's Amazon, Microsoft or Apple - it's setting up a nasty little monopoly which will drive up prices and drive down quality.

I know, I know. The mantra of "It Just Works". I'm mildly sick of having to configure my tablet to talk to my NAS, and then get the TV to talk to both of them. That situation isn't just due to my equipment all coming from different manufacturers - it's mostly due to those manufacturers not implementing open standards.

I fear what will happen when a provider shuts down a service. I joke about Apple going bust - even if they stay solvent, what's to stop them wiping all your music and movie purchases? After all, they shuttered their Mobile Me service with barely any warning and destroyed all the data their paying customers were hosting there.
Adobe killed their DRM servers with only 9 months notice - effectively stopping anyone from reading books they had bought.
Amazon wipes Kindles.
Google took Google Video to the woodshed and shot it in the head - along with Buzz, Wave, and who know how many other products.
Microsoft set up PlaysForSure - and then let it die, trapping millions of music files on devices which are no longer supported.

So, perhaps I'll stick with Google and hope that my Google TV talks to my Google Phone while I watch Google Play videos and listen to Google Play Music on my Google ChromeBook which I share on Google+ and purchase with Google Wallet. And send them the technology geek's prayer "Please don't decide that this useful service isn't profitable."

I just want us all to get along. I want my disparate equipment to talk to each other. I don't want to live in a house where every component has to be made by the same company otherwise nothing works correctly. I don't want to be stuck using a crappy product because they're the only ones offering service X.

I don't want toys that only run on your flavour of batteries.

I don't want to be part of your fucking ecosystem.


67 Responses to “I Don't Want To Be Part of Your Fucking Ecosystem”

  1. Simon Image of Simon

    This is definitely a problem, and digital rights in general is - the issue brought up by the Kindle wiping that you link to is the same thing. Media purchases online is a model that serves to give consumers very little rights, and it's quite unclear how the agreement really works.

    I also think that the process of purchasing media on a marginal-cost basis doesn't suit the great majority of consumers, and that streaming models on fixed-cost pricing (like Spotify) can come to command a greater market share, and may put a dent in piracy. The issue of ownership is nil, and it doesn't cost anything to try out that one more album. Imagine owning a tablet ereader, installing a library service that simply gives you all the books you could read as long as you pay €10 or whatever. Why mimic ownership on a platform where it really doesn't make any sense?

    Reply
    • Teren Image of Teren

      It's a fair assessment of what's best for the great majority of consumers. However, I would say that content publishers are the ones dictating how the business model is at the moment. Unless you can convince them that fixed-cost pricing can generate the same level of revenue as marginal-cost pricing, I'm afraid it will stay the same.

      Reply
  2. Lachlan O'Dea Image of Lachlan O'Dea

    I don't know about the others, but for Apple there's little evidence that they are trying to use content to lock you in. Music bought on iTunes is now DRM free - you can take all your iTunes music to Android no problem. Not only that, it was Apple that applied pressure to the music labels to bring about the end of DRM.

    What of movies and TV? It seems exceedingly likely that these have DRM because the studios want it, not because Apple does. Unfortunately, the studios have the leverage in this case because they managed to make DVD ripping effectively illegal via the DMCA. Consumer's don't have a good non-DRM alternative like they did with CDs.

    One could make a similar case for books. Scanning in a paperback is not very practical, so publishers get their DRM there too.

    Reply
    • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

      Hi Lachlan,

      You're right, the music is DRM free. But, from what I understand, synching iTunes with Android isn't the simplest thing in the world.

      If all you podcast subscriptions are tied into iTunes, that also means you can't leave that platform. Inertia is pretty good for businesses!

      It's interesting that Apple pushed for the end of DRM, but went for their own - incompatible - lossless format rather than picking something like FLAC.

      Terence

      Reply
      • minid Image of minid

        Well, then ain't no problem with the content at all. It's, certainly, with the facilities to move away from one garden to another. So, to summarize: Apple should integrate iTunes with Android ecosystem and viceversa with Google Play.

        The use of FLAC instead of Apple Loseless is a long story that has nothing to do than gardening, but with quality and other computational uses.

        Reply
      • Tom Scott Image of Tom Scott

        Now you're just fishing for arguments. Trying to argue that Apple should make iTunes support Android is kinda like getting mad because Microsoft Windows doesn't support AFP for file transfers. There's absolutely no reason for Apple, or any other company for that matter, to do this. I also don't feel as though switching from the iPhone to an Android device is all that difficult, knowing many folks who have done it with no issues at all, and it's basically just firing up another program when you want to sync your phone. Is that really "too much work" for your friend?

        And the difference between FLAC and ALAC is negligible. ALAC's only disadvantage is that its file sizes are slightly larger, because FLAC's method of compression is slightly more efficient.

        Reply
        • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

          That's my entire point. My SIM card works with any phone. My DVD works on any player. Adobe's Digital Editions works with any ePub reader. Why shouldn't iTunes work with Android? If both implemented an open standard, they could.

          Re the FLAC/ALAC issue. If FLAC is superior, and an open standard, why doesn't Apple support it? Is it NIH syndrome? Is it a desire to lock people in? Is it designed to deter people from buying music from outside their ecosystem?

          Apple's web browsers works seamlessly with any web page - why doesn't their music player do the same with any audio file?
          Amazon makes more profit from eBooks than eReaders - so why don't they sell ePubs?
          Microsoft's new Surface only runs applications blessed by them - can you imagine what that would have done to computer adoption in the early days of the PC revolution? Why is it acceptable now?

          Reply
          • Jason Lotito Image of Jason Lotito

            FTA:
            > After all, they shuttered their Mobile Me service with barely any warning and destroyed all the data their paying customers were hosting there.

            That's completely bullshit. I was a paying Mobile Me customer, and they gave massive warning and transfer time, with ample time to move everything over, save everything, and make other arrangements.

            FTC:

            > My DVD works on any player.

            No, it doesn't. DVDs are region encoded. This is DVD 101.

            > Is it a desire to lock people in?

            This has already been shown not to be the case, so why ask it? I can buy music from iTunes and play it anywhere.

            The lock in comes from the content owners who demand the DRM. Instead of being upset at the company doing what they can, maybe you shouldn't support the industry that forces DRM on you?

            > Is it designed to deter people from buying music from outside their ecosystem?

            Match shows their support for however you acquired our music, whether you purchased it from Apple, downloaded it from a torrent site, or purchased it on Amazon.

            > why doesn't their music player do the same with any audio file?

            FLAC can be played on Mac without a problem. Now, are you suggesting that features on iTunes is lacking? There are lots of problems with iTunes, so this wouldn't be a new complaint. However, I imagine they are looking solve problems iTunes users complain about. FLAC is generally not amongst the top complaints.

            > Why shouldn't iTunes work with Android?

            So you think Google should be required to build Android from the dictate of whoever proposes anything? Because that's what you are asking for Apple. To add to iTunes features that it might not be interested in adding.

            You are big on making generalized statements that are easily shown to be false, or at the very least misleading.

            > My SIM card works with any phone.

            I guarantee this is not the case.

            But it's easier to put "fuck" into you title than thought into your argument.

            Reply
            • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

              So, first of all - thanks for your detailed comments.
              Secondly - this wasn't intended to be a rant solely about Apple and their products. I'm not one of their customers, so please forgive my inaccuracies.

              On your other points, while most DVD players were region locked they aren't any more. Because of the consumer backlash against discriminatory pricing and regional content deals it's now almost impossible to find a DVD player which is locked down.

              You're quite right about the DRM being foisted on us mostly by content producers.

              (Ninja edit - made this comment on Hacker News, not here)
              Regarding iTunes or Android being forced or required to do anything - that's not really what I want. What I'd like is if there was a published specification for storing a music library. Then, any device could implement it. You could store your music on your Xbox and push it to your iPhone - or in iTunes and push it to your Windows Phone.

              It's the difference between email and IM. Email "just works" on every device because it's a standard. Google Talk is incompatible with iMessage and Skype and Whatsapp and BBM. They could all use the same or similar protocols. They could all work together but, instead, their users are locked in to one platform. If all your buddies are on BlackBerry, you have to buy one in order to use BBM.

              Re the SIM card - I'm not sure what it's like in your part of the world, but every phone I've had in the last ten years will take a SIM from any provider. Even when I've taken my European phones to the USA they've worked fine with T-Mobile SIMs.

              Thanks for your comments.

              Reply
              • Myles Image of Myles

                "What I'd like is if there was a published specification for storing a music library. Then, any device could implement it."

                That's why iTunes includes an XML file in the music folder. So other apps can easily access music and playlists (either for playback or syncing with non-Apple devices).

                Reply
              • Marcus Tucker (@marcustucker) Image of Marcus Tucker (@marcustucker)

                I agree with your points Terence, but just to clarify something you mention, there *is* an open standard for IM, it's called Jabber and Google Talk uses it (along with hundreds of other IM clients) but the messaging systems you mention have chosen to implement their own proprietary protocols for IM so you are indeed locked-in to them.

                Reply
                • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

                  Hey,

                  Thanks for the comment. Jabber is now XMPP. Although Gtalk uses it, I'm not aware of any way that I can use my GTalk client to connect with other XMPP services. Or is this possible?

                  Thanks

                  Terence

                  Reply
          • Jim A. Image of Jim A.

            But of course BluRay's are less standard than DVDs. Quit often players require firmware updates to play recent disks. Which doesn't necessarily wall you into a garden, but who knows how long manufacturers will continue to provide updates for old hardware.

            Reply
      • Darwin Image of Darwin

        If you are going to rant then at least know what you are talking about.
        Apple has content from places besides iTunes on Apple TV.
        It is easy to sync an Android device with iTunes or not use iTunes at all with an Android device.
        Apple lossless is not used for music they sell. Unencrypted AAC is.
        Mobile Me which cost money was replaced by the free and vastly more capable iCloud and data was migrated.
        Oh and Appe gave ALOT of warning they were migrating people to iCloud and then extended the deadline so you are flat wrong there.

        Reply
        • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

          A thousand apologies.

          All the guides I've read of syncing iTunes with Android make it look convoluted and / or require using 3rd party software.
          Regarding the MobileMe, again the posts I've read make it very clear that there was a non-trivial amount of end user work to do in order to keep things running smoothly. MobileMe hosting and Galleries didn't seem to be migrated.

          Reply
        • Laurence Morgan (@mangafish) Image of Laurence Morgan (@mangafish)

          I sense you're focusing on the trivial and missing the wider point; closed proprietary clouds are not good for consumers.

          Yeah, users are given prior warnings about the closure of some services and yes, data can sometimes be shifted from one walled garden to another. But for the average user, such hurdles -regardless of how easy they are for us techies- are major deal breakers. And thus these "features" are often little more cleverly deployed vendor lock-ins.

          Reply
      • davew Image of davew

        I don't disagree that the separate media ecosystems are trouble, but I'm having a tough time pinning this one on the equipment vendors.

        The thing is, it was commonly asserted before 2007 that Apple was using DRM to lock people into iPods. The "Thoughts On Music" letter had one big actionable commitment: "If the big four music companies would license Apple their music without the requirement that it be protected with a DRM, we would switch to selling only DRM-free music on our iTunes store."

        That's exactly what they did, so I'm having a tough time assuming that there has been a sudden conversion in this respect.

        The letter is at http://www.apple.com/uk/hotnews/thoughtsonmusic/ and I think it's worth reading again. It's not to be accepted uncritically, of course, and there's a lot that's different today - neither movie nor book publishers sell most of their content in DRM-free digital formats like CDs. But it seems to me to be a reasonably plausible description of the business pressures that have us where we are, and what needs to be targeted for change.

        If that's solved, then sure there are still issues about making it *easier* to transition; but at that point they are all solvable problems, and indeed the vendor of the incoming device has an incentive to make that easier.

        Reply
      • Kel (@KelDommage) Image of Kel (@KelDommage)

        Podcast subscriptions? You can get other podcast managers and you can resubscribe using one of them. Plus podcasts are almost universally MP3s. What the hell are you talking about?

        Reply
        • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

          I'm talking about exporting your podcast subs and reimporting them into another manager. I've no idea if iTunes or Google listen let you do that.

          Reply
          • Michael Mahemoff Image of Michael Mahemoff

            Podcast subs is actually one area that works pretty well across platforms and operating systems, thanks to OPML. iTunes does let you import and export OPML and many other clients support it in both directions too. I think Google Listen, which is now deprecated, did let you do this too via Reader.

            The part they all fail on (which I'm aiming to rectify) is cloudiness; they almost all require you to export from one programme to your drive and re-import again to another. And don't even think about making your subscriptions public when they don't even live in the cloud. It's archaic, but a small annoyance compared to other forms of media.

            Reply
      • Richard Image of Richard

        >You're right, the music is DRM free. But, from what I understand, synching iTunes with Android isn't the simplest thing in the world.

        So copy your mp3 files, which are stored on your hard drive, out of iTunes and use whatever music management software you want to with your Android device. What's the big deal? Your argument seems to be more along the lines of "I want to use iTunes", not "my content is locked down."

        >If all you podcast subscriptions are tied into iTunes, that also means you can't leave that platform.

        That's a nonsensical argument. Firstly, downloaded podcasts are stored, yes you guessed it, as audio files on your hard drive, just like your music collection. You can copy them, covert them to another format, or do whatever you want with them.

        It's hardly difficult after that just to re-subscribe to whatever podcasts you listen to in some other podcast management application. 10 minutes work at most for the majority of people.

        >After all, they shuttered their Mobile Me service with barely any warning

        No, they didn't. They gave *months* of warning. And no paying customers lost data. Mobile me customers were given a long time to move their data elsewhere. No one paid for any time that they didn't receive, and they even gave larger allocations of storage on their new free icloud service to former mobile me users.

        Really, I have no great love for Apple, or some of their business practices, but, with respect, your arguments are more a product of poor research and ignorance of the subject than any identifiable problem.

        Reply
  3. Yuvamani Image of Yuvamani

    Buy one use anywhere/ run anywhere is idealistic. It would be awesome if that is the case but users will settle for less. In Practice users like semi universality. For music a spotify subscription which works in most places is practical. As for movies - its a stream or a rental. Nobody is going to hold on to it. (Its really really stupid to pay 10+$'s to buy a movie which you are probably not going to watch again and if you do it will not work for the reasons you outlined)

    Books is where DRM still rears its ugly head - because book are bought. Amazons solution is to have an app for it almost everywhere.

    It is not clean but it is a solution which is better than one of their competitors where you can only read a book on one os.

    Yes a company like Amazon would love to be only in the services game. But in the current state of the market where friction free user experience is key, they need to own the entire ecosystem (ie hardware) also. Google also had to get from software into services for the exact same reason.

    Reply
  4. foljs Image of foljs

    I joke about Apple going bust - even if they stay solvent, what's to stop them wiping all your music and movie purchases?

    The fact that:

    a) music in iTunes has been DRM-free for years. Back it up (Apple even suggests so) and play it anywhere you want.

    b) who in their right mind purchases movies? How many times you want to see the average movie? You can rent them of iTunes or anywhere else, see them, and you're not tied to anything.

    Reply
    • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

      You may back things up - but do most people have the knowledge (or the disk space) to do so? Why not just rely on Apple (or Amazon, or Google, etc) to do that for you. As you move from machine to machine keeping everything in their "cloud".

      Judging from Amazon, there are still plenty of people buying movies. No, I don't understand it either - but they do!

      Reply
      • Mathias Image of Mathias

        Buying movies is interesting when you have kids, they enjoy watching the same one over and over again.

        Reply
      • SomeRandomNerd Image of SomeRandomNerd

        The Bruce Willis story isn't actually true;
        http://techcrunch.com/2012/09/03/bruce-willis-itunes-music-library/

        But lets pretend that it were for a moment - the point is that while you can easily copy your iTunes library and give a copy to one (or all) of your children, there is no way to transfer *legal ownership* of the licence for digital media. (Similarly, you couldn't legally rip your own CDs in the UK until 2011. But you still can't legally rip copy protected DVDs in either the EU or US.)

        Apple Music *is* DRM free. But the copyright system is still catching up with the reality of digital media in the 21st century. Media "ecosystems" exist to protect the existing model of copyright, backed up by the likes of the DMCA/EU Copyright Directive.

        Reply
  5. Nathan Murphy (@NathanJMurphy) Image of Nathan Murphy (@NathanJMurphy)

    Personally I download only MP3s and bring them in to iTunes from my PC in order to maintain my ability to easily cut ties with the iTunes eco-system (not as convenient - but better) Regarding Apps - I just try to never purchase them. Although irritating it is relatively easy to keep dependencies on any one company light and integrate data where it matters - mail/calendars etc..

    For me a bigger bug-bear is is being shoe horned in to specific options; for example Apple's maps update - where I can no longer use the far superior Google Maps App - as it is convenient for Apple's business strategy - this has seriously pissed me off.

    Reply
  6. Western Infidels Image of Western Infidels

    I agree with your sentiments, but you're really objecting to walled gardens (a term you also use), not ecosystems. Ecosystems are good things; they grow up organically around successful systems and make it possible to extend and adapt those systems into new places and new purposes.

    What iOS has isn't an ecosystem, it's a hothouse.

    I'd say the reason we have such clean "separation of church and state" on (primarily) Windows PCs is because Windows has such a robust ecosystem. That's really Windows' signature feature.

    Reply
    • Andrew Image of Andrew

      I agree.

      Hardware separate from software = Microsoft, etc business model
      Hardware integrated with software = Apple business model

      You choose the winner

      Reply
  7. ses2010 Image of ses2010

    This is a problem but its nothing new: the example you gave of movies not working across devices actually has been a problem since the days of the VHS / Betamax wars

    Reply
  8. Woot Image of Woot

    A guy called Mark Pilgrim once wrote a post titled "Freedom zero". You should read it. Perhaps. He's dead now.

    Reply
  9. Matt Watson Image of Matt Watson

    I use Rhapsody so I can listen to any song on any device for this very reason. Use Kindle books versus iBooks. Don't use the providers apps like iTunes music, Xbox music, etc. Use portable 3rd party apps.

    Reply
  10. steve harley Image of steve harley

    good points diluted with hyperbole; a couple of examples:

    mobile me users had over a year's notice and then could retrieve data for a month past the shutdown - whatever wasn't automatically moved to iCloud (assuming one signed up)

    almost all music downloads are now drm free - and fairly easy to move; it's Hollywood (and congress) you should blame for the drm which effectively silos video

    yes, i feel the attraction to a fully open "single" ecosystem, but as Darwin observed, some isolation encourages evolution

    rather than complete interop how about something as simple as all your data in silo X are available in RSS feeds so that silos Y and Z can slurp them with minimal effort when you wish?

    Reply
    • Neil Image of Neil

      This is what I do, as I use an iPod as my music player and i'm rocking android/google for everything else. This has been a flawless, free way for me to store and listen to my music in the cloud.

      Reply
  11. TJ Krusinski Image of TJ Krusinski

    Ironic that you don't want to be part of an ecosystem but your blog is a direct copy of a closed blogging network that breaks a number of open blogging traditions.

    Reply
    • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

      Not really sure what you mean? This is a WordPress blog running an open source theme (which I've contributed a couple of minor patches to). What's ironic about that?

      Reply
  12. Marie Wallace Image of Marie Wallace

    I feel your pain. Your post touches on a topic close to my heart; not the media stronghold companies like Apple have (I'm not an Apple user so I can't really comment) but what does drive me nuts are the social silos (these walled gardens you mentioned) that are popping up all over the place. And what's scary is that most people aren't even aware how they are being manipulated, with companies are using all sorts of really nasty tricks to achieve this. My favorite being Facebook's recent trick in forcing you to accept their new facebook email address (that you never asked for) and then deleting your non­-Facebook addresses in the process (unbelievably invasive).

    Reply
  13. me-tan Image of me-tan

    At least many android phones are capable of operating without accessing Google's services if you configure it correctly. This was one of the reasons i adopted android.

    Reply
  14. steve mccallister Image of steve mccallister

    Amazon is the right model: put their content everywhere anyone wants to buy it. Kindle app works on everything, Audible audiobooks (with DRM) works pretty much on anything. Amazon even provides an alternative to the Google Play store on Android.

    Shunning the walled gardens such as iBooks and FaceTime isn't that hard.

    Reply
  15. Andreas Kloeckner Image of Andreas Kloeckner

    And you didn't realize this when you bought all the stuff that locked you into whichever ecosystem to start with? Really?

    Reply
  16. pixielated pixels Image of pixielated pixels

    I once bought an iPod, one month later, sick of iTunes to the max and not being able to use my music files (9300 cds in Flac format) without turning them to crap mp3s I sold it again. Now I will not use a music player that won't hook up to a PC like a hard drive and let me copy back and forth without some stupid program in between and let me play my flacs without changing formats. I had a couple of these devices and they both sounded far better than iPods too. Apple does make cool hardware but their "do it our way" attitude sucks big so I'll never buy in.

    Reply
  17. Trey Image of Trey

    If you don't want to live in this fucked up corporate ecosystem anymore, your only other choice is opensource. OpenThinkLab. We are building a better interface, join us in making OUR Internet what it is both capable of being and what we need it to be.

    Reply
  18. Victor Stan (@victorbstan) Image of Victor Stan (@victorbstan)

    Umm... yes you say it like it's a bad thing to be chained to Apples hardware. Most people are "chained" to Apples hardware because they want to. Because it does not, arguably, suck as much as Android or Windows PC hardware. It's because of them that PC manufactures are kept on their toes and continue to "try" to "innovate". You're so biased it shows through your weak arguments. iTunes is so much better than Windows Media Player. And what did Sony try to do but install malware onto your system to protect its media (remember that one?). That's PC manufactures for you. Apple may not be your cup of tea, but look around, see anything better? I don't. And don't argue that Google somehow won't try to lock you in, everyone does once they reach critical mass. It's just business.

    Reply
    • Terence Eden Image of Terence Eden

      Have you tried writing your own games for the major platforms?

      It's possible (mostly) but you're locked out of distributing them without approval from the gatekeepers.

      If something is technically impossible, that's one thing - if it's an business decision to lock people out, that's quite another.

      Reply
  19. Felix Image of Felix

    The standard user is the laziest you can imagine and will always go the way that is the easiest for her. She doesn't give a damn where the data is saved, whether it will be accessible in months or not. She will never think that far.
    This behavior is perfectly normal though. After a long working day nobody is willed to sit down in the evening and spend time setting up some remote with some device to by some producer and spend hours fiddling arround and make something work.

    I'm telling you. It's up to US. Us geeks and nerds to provide those standard users with some sort of solution they are willing to use. We are the ones who should go ahead and be a good example also using and buying devices with open standards.

    Problem though: within the world of geeks and nerds there is only a damn small fraction of those who actually accept the lazziness of those lazzy users. And THIS is IMHO a big big problem.

    Reply
  20. gtd Image of gtd

    Actually, if Apple were to shut down iTunes causing everyone to lose their video content without recourse, that is probably the one thing that would create enough popular demand for open standards to be pursued and maybe even legislated. Short of that, everyone is going to keep chasing the money, which right now is planted squarely in the closed ecosystem.

    Reply
  21. Jose Image of Jose

    "That's how it works - more or less - in the PC space."

    Is that how it works in the PC space? Only if you only used one platform.

    Correct me if I am mistaken but the PC IS the definition of walled garden:

    Do you prefer to play a game in Linux or mac? Sorry but games(or CAD tools or Pro Apps) are programmed only for DirectX, so you could only edit this data on a single platform. Or .Net, or whatever. (fortunately this is changing)

    There is an opens source multimedia program called VLC that you could download and search for profanity or bad language in the code and guess what?, 90% of those bad words are in the Microsoft media formats, because those guys published specifications and then corrupted them in multiple ways so only their programs could read it without problems(because they are the only ones who know).

    They tried to do the same with Internet Explored and this flash replacement thing which name I can't remember.

    I have an Iphone, my girlfriend an Android phone and we have exactly zero problems with media.

    Things are not perfect but they are much better from where they used to be.

    Reply
  22. Peter Image of Peter

    Sorry, but this is completely upside down:

    "Why would I buy a tablet that only worked with content from one provider?"

    Nobody is buying a tablet that only works with content from one provider. Eg you can read Apple, Amazon and Adobe ebooks on an iPad. The point is: Who would buy content that only works on certain machines. And that's a very different question.

    And it works the same way in the PC business. You just don't notice because Windows has a near monopoly. If you don't like the direction Windows is heading, try switching to Linux and see how much of your content is still usable.

    If everything has to compatible, competition is low. And if competition is strong, comparability suffers. The middle ground is usually fine. The only thing that's universally bad for the customer is DRM.

    Reply
  23. franckhertz (@franckhertz) Image of franckhertz (@franckhertz)

    By a strange and unusual collection of forces somehow our music is now all DRM free. Partly because of the legacy of unencrypted CDs, partly because the iPod was huge and Steve Jobs refused to allow any other DRMed files play on it. (Remember when there were calls for Apple to license Fairplay and/or support other DRM schemes? By Apple saying steadfastly saying no to that, for whatever reason, we got DRM-free music everywhere.)

    There are differences in why the companies sell music. Apple makes profit selling hardware. That is their goal. It's why the Kindle app and the Amazon video app are in the app store. So long as you're watching it on a $400 iPad or iPhone or what have you, Apple makes money and is happy.

    Apple has no interest in you buying a Android device and then consuming iTunes video or any other media. They break even selling media at best. Having their content everywhere is not a concern.

    Contrast that with Amazon - they make pretty much no money on their content, barely any money at all anywhere, and try to make money on content which has razor thin margins. But naturally if the content selling is their focus, they'll put their player anywhere - android, Fire, Kindle, Apple products, etc.

    There are sort of two problems really - one is DRM, which isn't going anywhere when it comes to video (especially subscription based which by definition has to have DRM). I still in many ways prefer to buy DVDs and use handbrake to put them into my Mac, etc. I'm reluctant to buy movies in iTunes or anywhere since it's near impossible to lend or resell them. How do you get DRMed content to play together? MMm, you don't really. At best you have one device that supports multiple types of content but even an iPad will never get Google Play I'd assume.

    Then there's the content management side. Because I doubt that many people want to play movies they bought on iTunes on their android device. No, the issue is probably the music. Now who's responsibility is it to get music from iTunes onto an Android device? It's certainly not Apple's; they don't give a shit about your Android phone. They made iTunes to sell iPods and iPhones.

    So, where is Google's media manager for Android? They certainly have the know how and money to write some AndroidTunes app or something that could scan your iTunes folder and figure this all out and sync it. But they don't seem to be doing that (at least as I know). And if some third party wrote one and sold it for Windows and/or Macs no Android user would spend the money to buy it since Android owners can barely be bothered to spend $1 on an app for their phone.

    Is the media/music/ecosystem landscape a mess? Totally. But it's very different than the VHS player analogy you make. Back in physical media days, few worried about encryption. You hammered out a standard (and let's not forget that's a long painful mess. BETA/VHS. Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD), companies make tiny profits selling players, and then media companies stamp out discs and make most of the money.

    Now we have a scenario where some are trying to make money from devices (Apple), some from running digital stores or subscription services (Amazon, Netflix) and others trying to make money from ... ads? (How does google plan to make money from Android anyway? Selling Moto phones? that's never been clear to me), and others trying to make money from handsets (Samsung), and the media content owners trying to preserve their old revenue streams with arcane and asinine rules about when and how you can buy and/or rent movies and tv shows online, when they're on cable, when they're on premium cable, when they're OnDemand, etc.

    None of those groups care about the total consumer experience really. Apple comes the closest, but their solution is to buy into their hegemony and use all their stuff and then still plenty of media is denied to you. It's not ideal, but it's the best ecosystem now. In some idyllic non-capitalist world maybe we'd come up with something better. The main problem seems to be DRMed video. Who knows how long we have to put up with that.

    P.S. I'm unsympathetic about podcasts. If you have a good podcast app you can add-back your subscription pretty fast. (I use Instacast anyway, not iTunes these days)

    Reply
  24. Sean Hull (@hullsean) Image of Sean Hull (@hullsean)

    Terence, here's to a click worthy title, for a controversial topic. I was on iphone for four years, before finally giving Android a try. I struggled with untested apps and UI problems. The platform practically *required* running something called "Easy Task Killer" all the time to manage buggy software and bloatware.

    Eventually I switched back to iphone where I'm very happy in the warm cozy nest of Apple's ecosystem. But the whole experience motivated a blog post - Why The Android Ecosystem Is Broken

    http://www.iheavy.com/2012/05/29/why-the-android-ecosystem-is-broken/

    Reply
  25. e-ver-ver Image of e-ver-ver

    Exactly!
    When you switch cars you don't have to change their content too.

    Wife/kids/friends still remain compatible and can be used by your new car. Ok, except for that blond chick that you'll surely lose if you give your Ferrari for a Honda. And your grandma if you do it the other way round. Ok and sometimes the new car can't support all of your kids. And maybe if your wife is fat can't even get into a sport car.

    I blame the Auto industry for ruining my social life

    Reply
  26. Argent Stonecutter Image of Argent Stonecutter

    If your music is in iTunes, it's absolutely trivial to move it to another platform. I load my Android phone up from iTunes by dragging tracks from a playlist to a flash card, and sticking that card in my phone. If your music is in Google's cloud, now, you're hosed. Half my Google Play music I can ONLY play by streaming it to an Android device.

    And @franckhertz is right on about what Apple's intransigence over DRM did for all of us. If they'd gone along with Plays For Sure, or licensed FairPlay, there'd have been no incentive for the labels to drop DRM. Amazon would just have licensed both "standards", and we'd be bitching and moaning about how we had to buy the White Album again for Zune.

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