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)