Horizontal vs. vertical lock-in: Until DRM dies, iTunes is no worse than Google or Amazon

Horizontal lock-ins are harder to see than vertical ones. When you buy a movie or TV show or book from iTunes, you know it'll only work on Apple devices. If you own anything else, all that content might as well be dead to you. When you buy a movie or TV show or book from Amazon or Google, however, it can feel like a safer investment, like you can play it anywhere and on anything. But it only seems that way. The truth is, you can only ever play your content on the devices the content and service provider — any provider — allows you to play them on, and only for as long as they allow it. We're just as locked to Google's will and servers, and Amazon's, and anyone else's. And we will be until such time as DRM (Digital Rights Management) is dead.

As much as I'd love an iTunes for iCloud, there are no such things as degrees of ubiquity. Some services may give you more options in some ways, less in others, but unless and until you can buy something anywhere and play it on anything, everything is a compromise. Everything has limitations.

Even if horizontal services were truly horizontal — if they let you play from their service in any region on any device — you'd still be locked to their service. You couldn't take a movie you bought on Google and throw it up on Amazon or iCloud instead. The bigger problem is that there are no true horizontal services. There's still no Amazon video is Canada. So, I can't buy stuff from Amazon regardless of how many devices they support. And there's still no Google or Amazon video player app for BlackBerry or Windows Phone. So, I can't watch anything I buy, at least not properly, on my Lumia 1020 or BlackBerry Z10. If none of that content had DRM, it wouldn't matter. I could buy from whomever had a store in my region and play on whatever device I had access to. But right now, for me and hundreds of millions of people outside the U.S. or on platforms other than iOS and Android, the difference is negligible to non-existant.

Music used to be the same way. Stuck in DRM-hell. Apple's was locked down with FairPlay and Microsoft's with PlaysForSure. If you bought from Apple, the argument went, you were stuck with iTunes + iPod. If you bought from Microsoft, however, you could play it on devices from many different manufacturers. Fast forward to day and iTunes is still here. iPods are still here. PlaysForSure servers have been shut down and their devices are no more. Looking back, which was the worse lock-in? Which was the safer bet?

The music industry eventually agreed to shed DRM. Amazon first, later iTunes. These days I can buy music from Apple or Google. Amazon said MP3 would be coming to Canada in 2008 and, 6 years later, still hasn't arrived. Still, I can buy from anyone in my region and use on any device I own, even a locker from a competing service. That's the only real way to avoid lock-in. That's the only real way to prevent Disney or whoever from yanking your movies from the cloud, or Hollywood from switching to to ever-more cockamamie DRM schemes like Ultraviolet. That the only real way to be safe.

If Apple goes out of business, as unfathomable as that might be to believe, sure, I'll lose everything I've bought from iTunes. But what are the odds of that happening? About the same as Google deciding to get out of movies like they did RSS, or Amazon falling out with Hollywood and losing all their playback rights. Frankly, formats changing — like they did from VHS to DVD to Blu-Ray to SD H.264 to HD H.264 to 4K H.265 — and Hollywood trying to convince me to buy all my existing stuff again in the new latest and greatest is far more likely, and each time that happens, and can pick my poison anew.

Since DRM doesn't seem to be going anywhere anytime soon, and ripping and storing your own, legally purchased DVDs and BluRay's as a simple way to back them up and watch them electronically is disgracefully illegal in many jurisdictions, there are simply no rock-solid options for law-abiding customers who just want to buy and enjoy the content that they want, when and where they want. That's not Apple's fault. That's not Google's or Amazon's or anyone else's but Hollywood.

Unless and until our content goes DRM-free, have no illusions and make no mistake — everything is a lock in. We just have to make sure choose the one that works best for us.

Rene Ritchie

Editor-in-Chief of iMore, co-host of Iterate, Debug, Review, The TV Show, Vector, ZEN & TECH, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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There are 64 comments. Add yours.

Kiddo_24 says:

Coming to Canada in 2008, you mean. Otherwise it's still 6 years away and Amazon is on time ;)

Posted via the Android iMore App!

awilisch says:

True enough. Of course the one thing I like better about Apples way of doing it is you can download everything you bought from them and cache it away on your server downstairs, so if they ever DID go out of business the worst that would happen is you can't download it again.

Honestly I stopped buying from Apple because of lockin. I have a MBP but my phone and tablet are Android. It's frustrating that Apple has the better selection but I can honestly get things from Google to play on more devices (even Apple devices now). You definitely need to go with what's good for you. My wife has an iphone so she buys her stuff from itunes. I'm on Android so I buy it...well pretty much anywhere else (vudu, Google Play, etc). The biggest thing that sucks is when another family member wants to watch or listen to something. Apple won't stream to a chromecast, and we all know they probably never will, so I have to get an Apple TV. Just wish these companies would realize that if they would just embrace all devices they would probably sell more stuff. Fix it so I can stream movies and music from itunes to my Android devices or chromecast, I'd probably buy everything from them. Just a pity they all think their going to force me to use their stuff because they won't support other platforms.

Sorry this got so long winded :)

Rene Ritchie says:

Sure, but Google Play doesn't support BlackBerry or Windows Phone, so if you had that instead of Android, you'd be just as out of luck.

And like I said, Amazon doesn't support my country. If I buy a Kindle Fire here, not only is it way more expensive, I can't buy movies or TV shows on it.

That was my point: We tend to think that whatever works on our stuff is better in general, even if it doesn't work on anyone else's.

Nicholas Kathrein says:

This is all true. You can decide which of your choices is "the least evil" meaning you have the most options. As long as you can find it in Google Play and Windows Phone or BB isn't you current phone or tablet then I'd say that's your best Legal choice if you don't live in the U.S. where we can back them up. The best maybe legal maybe not is to buy blue rays and use a computer to back them up to a bunch oh big hard drives. Then put XBMC or Plex on you a server and client pc hooked up to that lovely big screen tv and your set.

richard451 says:

"if they ever DID go out of business the worst that would happen is you can't download it again." actually you wouldn't be able to play them again as there would be no servers available to authenticate the drm decoder.

LeFrancoy says:

Actually, they would still work on authenticated machines, but you could not authenticate (or de-autheticate) anymore, iTunes’ stuff work offline fine once they are downloaded. But I also noticed that a lot of content that I got from iTunes (mostly music and music videos) is actually DRM-free!?

jkeitz says:

I recently had a weird problem with my Apple TV. It stopped being able to authorize content. As such, I was able to play content that was streamed from my PC via iTunes, but I couldn't stream directly from iTunes. We eventually figured out that I had to actually use the Apple TV to buy something again (Apple gave me enough credit to make a purchase) and I was again able to use my Apple TV as normal. I only bring this up because, for all intents and purposes, for a few weeks my Apple TV box acted as if Apple had gone out of business, but I was still able to access my downloaded content through my home network.

jimmy5cent says:

I very much agree that DRM is a pain because you never really own the movie. The only reason why I use google is because the movies I buy with them are available on my youtube account under the purchases playlist. And as we all know youtube is available everywhere.

Rene Ritchie says:

Except, for me, whenever I hit play on one of the Google Play movies I've bought, YouTube asks me to pay the rental fee again...

jimmy5cent says:

That's really weird. I just tried the youtube app and the google play movies app on my iphone 5 and both let me stream the movies I have purchased without asking me to pay the rental fee. I wonder what's different.

asuperstarr says:

I love iTunes and purchasing my movies and having them in the cloud. The only problem I have is when they take delete a movie. That annoys me and is the only thing that has stop me from buying new movies because they have the right to delete the movie. I'm a big Will Smith fan and I love watching the old movies and now I can't watch "state of the union" why because apple has pulled the movie completely from the App Store.

Sent from the iMore App

reelmower says:

It should be "...Disney or whoever..." Whoever is the subject rather than the object.

jorgelvela says:

Hi Rene, thanks for the article. While I agree that most service providers (Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, etc. in this case) try to lock you into their own ecosystems, I don't know that I agree that iTunes is no worse than the rest. For the record, I don't mind iTunes and I have a lot of content from owning iPods, iPhones and iPads in the past. However, I've found that while Amazon and Google at least provides apps in other ecosystems (Amazon in most, actually, while Google does on iOS and I bet they will on Windows in the future), Apple strictly only supports iOS and Mac OS X. That is to say, there is no iTunes for Android or Windows Phone while there are Google Play services at least available on iOS. Amazon services, meanwhile, are available on most platforms, and Amazon Instant Video is even on the iPad!

While I see that your experience with some Google services has been less than great (referring to the rental fee issue you mentioned earlier), it seems to me that Google at least tries to be on other platforms. Apple's strategy, on the other hand, is to have others come to them for everything. I know this personally as I had to pay an iTunes Match subscription to rid my iTunes music of DRM. Not fun :(

richard451 says:

iTunes does exist on Windows

Didier Ouzaid says:

Yeah, please do read the post again. He's not exactly talking about watching/listening to content on a desktop. I was an iTunes Match buff, until I realized Google offered their online music service on Android AND iOs. Bye bye MusicMatch. Same goes for Amazon Cloud Player, available on both Android and iOS.

While I agree that horizontal lock-in is a problem, and NOT just due to Hollywood (that's a very North American centric view, btw), but also due to countries (in the EU in particular) having a very strict 'chronology of medias' designed to protect all stakeholders (from movie theaters to movie producers and tv channels), I also realize everyday that Apple is pushing things a bit further than others in terms of lock-in. Im an enthusiast of both Apple hardware and core software, but I tend to stay away from their content services whenever possible (especially iTunes and iCloud).

Rene Ritchie says:

Sorry, I was using Hollywood as a generic expletive :p

GeniusUnleashed says:

No offense Rene, but you're kind of stuck in a 1950's mentality. Ownership is a soon-to-be-forgotten idea that will probably be gone in a few more decades. I don't know anyone who buys music anymore unless it's from a band they support, simply to support them. I buy every Coldplay album because I like the band and want to support them, then simply listen to them on Spotify.

Netflix is continually growing as is Amazon Prime. People are slowly waking up and realizing that buying and storing terabytes of data that you'll probably never listen to or watch again is a waste of money. North America is light years behind Europe and Asia when it comes to broadband speeds, and once we catch up, streaming will become the norm. It's simply the way things are moving, and those companies that don't see this and adjust, will disappear.

Heisenberg says:

I respectfully disagree.

People buy music for more reasons than to support an artist or band. Streaming isn't going to be the norm as long as carriers continue with tiered data plans. Wifi is not available everywhere and won't ever be available every single place we go. Not many people want to stream every single thing they can. This is beyond the point though. Buying content from iTunes, like a movie, should be the equivalent to me buying a DVD and being able to play it on any DVD player I'd like. These services that let us buy content are based mostly on convenience and it should be convenient for us to play the movies where we'd like. If the music industry was able to strike a deal with iTunes to let us re-download purchased music without paying for it again, then these movie studios can come to some sort of agreement with companies like Apple and Google to let us have our stuff wherever we want it.

GeniusUnleashed says:

"People buy music for more reasons than to support an artist or band." Like?

"Streaming isn't going to be the norm as long as carriers continue with tiered data plans." Carriers have nothing to do with home broadband. No home broadband providers have tiered data plans in the US that I'm aware of.

"Wifi is not available everywhere and won't ever be available every single place we go." 3G and LTE is almost everywhere now though. And 2G IS everywhere and tech is becoming available that allows for satellite internet service and local community wifi.

"Not many people want to stream every single thing they can." Based on what information? Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, Rdio, iTuens Radio, Pandora and now Beats Radio show that people actually are preferring streaming versus buying music as their customer base continues to increase.

"Buying content from iTunes, like a movie, should be the equivalent to me buying a DVD and being able to play it on any DVD player I'd like." iPods were never MP3 players, they were m4a players. Your analogy is like trying to buy a bluray and then complaining because it doesn't work in a DVD player. They are different technologies. iTunes m4a technology works on every piece of hardware they make. And lots of other manufacturers figured out a way to allow m4a to play on their devices.

"These services that let us buy content are based mostly on convenience and it should be convenient for us to play the movies where we'd like." I'm not attacking you, but this comment comes across as childish. It's not their responsibility to cater to you. It's your responsibility as a consumer to buy whats best for you. If you don't like iTunes, use Netflix, it's available on every device and OS in the world. So is Amazon Prime. Stop trying to have everyone else cater to your needs and use your all mighty dollar to support other platforms that give you what you want.

"If the music industry was able to strike a deal with iTunes to let us re-download purchased music without paying for it again, then these movie studios can come to some sort of agreement with companies like Apple and Google to let us have our stuff wherever we want it." Once again, the idea of ownership is a fallacy. If you go to the movies, do you now own that movie? Are you able to watch it wherever you choose on any platform? Of course not. When you buy a DVD, you've paid for the ability to play that DVD in a DVD player, that's it. You don't OWN anything other than a piece of plastic. You have zero rights to the copyrighted art work (movie, tv show, etc) you are looking at. When that piece of plastic breaks, you aren't entitled to another free copy, you have to once again pay to use another piece of plastic. For whatever reason, this generation (that I'm a part of) is acting childish and throwing a temper tantrum because they don't get everything they think they deserve. Once we realize that you never truly own ANYTHING (getting spiritual now), the sooner we'll be able to move forward and embrace technologies that allow us to enjoy art whenever we want on any platform, and pay for the service (technology that delivers it) and the chance to view art (a small fee to the artist), not because we feel some barbaric entitlement to own another person's creation.

jeddo45 says:

...and I don't think anyone read that comment in its entirety...

Nexus 5...enough said

Heisenberg says:

Why do people buy music other than to support an artist or band? Oh, I don't know. Because we happen to like some certain music and just prefer to have it stored locally without having to stream it, for starters.

Home broadband providers actually are tiered data plans. Do your research on that and you'll see exactly what I'm talking about.

I was talking about WIFI. You made my point by bringing up cellular data . We don't want to stream over cellular data and would like to avoid it much as possible. "Local community wifi" isn't common.

You're basing the fact that because there are streaming services that that is what the majority of people prefer. You'll never know that as long as content is still available to BUY.

Uh, no. I said buying a DVD lets you play it on any DVD player. I never said anything about blu-ray. I could have easily just have said buying a blu-ray lets you play it on any blu-Ray player. Don't twist that.

Actually, it is their responsibility to cater to me if they want my business. That's what it's all about, man. Really? Lol

You make it seem like I'm claiming that I own the music or the movies. I own a COPY of those things that give me the ability to play it. And you made my previous point about the convenience that iTunes, for example, provides by having my purchases. I can't break a copy of a movie I bought. That's why it's more convenient for me to buy something like that instead of hoping that Netflix has it.

All in all, you're getting into a realm way beyond DRM.

GeniusUnleashed says:

Reread what I wrote, not sure you got the points I was trying to make. If it's still unclear, I'll try it a different way.

verpeiler089 says:

That's YOUR opinion, but not everybody is comfortable with streaming. But owning stuff has nothing to do with a 50s mentality....

GeniusUnleashed says:

What's my opinion? That streaming services are gaining market share and customers? Sorry, that's a fact.

Of course some people aren't comfortable with streaming, that's why I originally posted that full acceptance of it is a couple decades away. Some people still prefer CRT monitors, and VHS tapes, but that doesn't mean they dictate technology's progression.

And ownership is a 1950's mentality. It's when records became a reality for every household and people felt that they owned the music, instead of the right to listen to the record. They never really understood that difference. Before records, listening to the radio was an experience, that was possible by buying a radio. No one ever though they owned the music or shows they listened to on that radio. We're moving back to those days where people appreciate art and music and don't feel a need to OWN everything.

kevinbhayes says:

You keep saying "ownership is a 1950's mentality" but haven't supported it. All you have to go on is increasing popularity of Spotify. But that doesn't make sense. You don't know that people have both Spotify and own copies of music. When I listen to music on my home stereo, I use the CD, because it sounds a lot better than streamed, compressed audio, and I don't have to connect a network device to my stereo. It's much more convenient to me. When I'm in my car, I use file synchronized there, because I don't have an unlimited data plan from which to stream. Heck, even my home broadband has a data cap.

Some of us "own" copies of music because it sounds better, is cheaper, or more convenient than streaming. You're 1950's mentality argument is weak, as people didn't think about copyright law because there was no point. Most homes had no way of copying a record. If they wanted to listen to a specific song at a specific time, they had to buy a record. If they lost or broke it, they had to buy another one. That has nothing to do with the reason people still buy copies of music today. It wasn't until the compact cassette became popular that people started to think about copyright law. And we're all aware of copyright laws today, that's why we're buying the music instead of torrenting it. It's as far away from 1950's mentality as you can get.

GeniusUnleashed says:

Didn't support it?

"And ownership is a 1950's mentality. It's when records became a reality for every household and people felt that they owned the music, instead of the right to listen to the record. They never really understood that difference. Before records, listening to the radio was an experience, that was possible by buying a radio. No one ever though they owned the music or shows they listened to on that radio. We're moving back to those days where people appreciate art and music and don't feel a need to OWN everything."

I explain pretty clearly why I think ownership of media is a 1050's mentality. Not sure what you read.

My whole point of "ownership" vs streaming is that, when the platform goes away, I haven't lost anything with streaming. I simply sign up for a different platform and continue enjoying the media I want to enjoy versus having to go out and re-buy everything I thought I owned. MOG is a perfect example of this.

moroboshi says:

I think ownership differs depending on the media. I buy music because it's DRM free, I don't buy much of it, and I tent to listen to albums multiple times. Games I buy because there's no choice. TV shows and movies I just rent or stream because I very rarely re-watch them.

GeniusUnleashed says:

Exactly. I think you're a perfect example of why it will take a couple decades for streaming to become the norm for the world. People in your situation don't need it yet. But kids growing up will simply be accustomed to streaming and won't see a reason to go out and buy something when they can listen to it for free (ad-supported) or pay a small monthly fee and see/hear a hundred times the content for the same price as one DVD or CD. it's simply an evolution of how we engage with media. It's neither good or bad, it simply is.

dalyapp says:

The ways in which people use media hasn't really changed much since well before the 50s. Some people like to own certain things, others are fine with borrowing or renting. A streaming service doesn't make much sense to me since I rarely watch movies and listen to a relatively limited amount of music that I enjoy. But all that doesn't change Rene's argument. All services - buying, renting or streaming - are a lock in. You're dependent upon that provider supporting your platform and supplying the media that you want. They could change either of those at any time.

Sent from the iMore App

GeniusUnleashed says:

Sorry, but when were people allowed to rent or stream back in the 50's? Technology is allowing us to not have to buy everything, which is entirely different than it was in the 50's.

Streaming makes even more sense if you are only watching one or two movies a month. Renting them will cost you around $10, buying them even more, versus a $7.99 Netflix account, or Amazon Prime account. But that wasn't my argument. My argument is that in the next 20 years or so, when the technology is there, people will be streaming the majority of their content, it's just the reality and the continued growth of streaming services shows that more and more people are preferring streaming everyday. Technology evolves and our patterns grow with it.

As far as locked-in. Every format locks you in. By a DVD, you're locked into DVD players. Once they stop making DVD players and yours breaks, you're screwed. Buying from Apple or Google is no different than buying into Blu-Ray or DVD. Once that platform goes away, you have to move on to another one. Which is where my argument of streaming comes in to play. Don't buy into ownership since it's all ethereal. Buy a service and then switch to another one that fits your needs as necessary. But it's definitely not for everyone right this second, and I'm not arguing that's the case :)

Iocane Powder says:

If the price remains consistently low enough and access is truly horizontal, then yes, the rental model will do well and no one will own a copy of the content. But as Rene points out, access is no where near even due to antiquated business models, trade regulations, shifting formats, etc.

The rental model is fine if you are happy with tabula rasa the moment you stop paying. But even when you pay not everything is available. I can rent tons of DVD's from Netflix that I can't stream and I have videos on both VHS and DVD that you can't get anywhere from any service. It is this capricious undulation of content access that still has me purchasing music that I like and letting the stream flow past as white noise. I guess I'm no longer a movie fan as I have purchased only 2 or 3 videos in the past couple of years. But I am a music fan and don't want my access to Powertools, Gordian Knot or Paul Williams to be at the mercy of negotiations between labels and content providers. At some point some IP battle may remove Streisand's Superman and King Crimson's Red from the stream. Until bit rot claims them all, I'm insulated from such posturing through my purchases.

Now if Apple will just start using a better file system like ZFS I won't need to by CDs and rip them.

GeniusUnleashed says:

There will always be true fans and diehards of hard to find b-sides and rare vinyl players. Hell, I'm sure there's even someone out there with a full 8-track box set of The Beatles. Progress will never change the minutia. Here's a great photo story of one such person. It's pretty interesting:

http://petapixel.com/2014/01/22/revising-history-photoshop-interview-jen...

RavenSword says:

I don't think it's really the same thing. iTunes content I can only access on apple products or windows. Amazon I can access on ios, android, Mac, windows, kindle fire, Roku, and a number of other streaming devices. Because Apple doesn't make iTunes apps for other non apple stuff, your much more locked in going apple than you would be amazon or even google, no?

zdn1042 says:

While I am fine with using iTunes, I have to agree with you on this. Technically speaking, yes, it may be the same thing. But in totality it is not. Having more options where you can use what you purchased is still better. Yes, you will still be locked in to a certain service but you'll still have more freedom than if you are in iTunes.
Maybe in the future it will all work out and there would no longer be any DRMs. But as I see it today such a thing to happen is highly improbable.

RavenSword says:

But is this just what apple is going to continue to do, though? Just lock everything down? Because that makes me nervous about continuing to use apple products.

Fortunately they do have the amazon video app, but there's still no amazon video on Apple TV. And no, airplay isn't good enough, I want a dedicated app. I'd have to use my game console to get that on my tv. Or buy a Roku . He'll, I'm thinking a Roku might have been a better purchase at this point.

In regards to ripping bluejays to your computer , is there even a way to then access that on Apple TV or ios? There isn't a plex app as far as I can tell. Again, Roku has that.

Rene Ritchie says:

I can't access Amazon content in Canada, so...?

moroboshi says:

The only sane solution is to not buy any video. I watch pretty much everything via streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon LoveFilm, and also rent blu-rays from LoveFilm. If I ever do buy video it will be a blu-ray which has been reduced in price to next to nothing.

Weird that Amazon MP3 still isn't available in Canada. We've had it in the UK for years now. It's always, pretty much without exception, cheaper than iTunes.

By the way Rene, there are a few typos in your article.

lfeuln says:

The end result of all this is pretty much what you said - I just don't buy video now be it from iTunes, Amazon or Google Play. If a movie's not available for rental, it's not getting watched and same goes for TV shows not available for streaming on Netflix etc. I hope it changes eventually, and same goes for country restrictions (where Apple is indeed heads above both Google and Amazon).

Thaipo says:

As someone with a US iTunes account who was living abroad and travels internationally frequently Apples method is/was a godsend. Unless things have changed in the past ~year iTunes was the only service that allowed me to buy and view my content from anywhere in the world. Amazon, Google, Netflix, etc would all be blocked for international use and require a VPN to mask where I was comming from.

heyjohnnybravo says:

Death to DRM!

Posted via the Android iMore App!

lilyjoin says:

. I watch pretty much everything via stream services such as Netflix and Amazon LoveFilm, and also rent blu-rays from LoveFilm.
see more detail
allmobilespe.com

lilymae44 says:

My biggest beef with DRM, are the audiobooks. All of my iTunes content (music, movies, TV) are all accessible in the cloud, except for my audiobooks, which are a part of my daily life. This keeps me truly tethered to my computer, and having my iPhone dump all my content while on vacation years ago (my fault...mistakenly removed iPhone from computer without ejecting it properly), I was unable to access any of my books for the duration...my newest books were on the desktop back home...

moroboshi says:

If you're into Audiobooks (I listen to 3-4 every month), then you need an Audible account. Pretty much all iTunes audiobooks come from Audible anyway, but if you buy them from Audible direct, you can access them anywhere. The Audible iOS app is admittedly pretty hideous (it looks like it belongs on a Kindle), but it works.

cardfan says:

All those VHS tapes I bought? Worthless. DVDs? Worthless again. Who wants low res versions? The current stuff will obsolete within 10 years.

You don't buy video and worry about owning it for life. 4k and future versions will make you not even care about current blu-Ray discs. Think of it as having a useful life. It's about a decade. Sometimes not even that. I'm fine with apple for the next 5 years. But I don't buy movies or tv shows. It's not worthwhile when you'd have to rebuy later regardless. Books is the bigger worry so I buy amazon. Apps go outdated.

kevinbhayes says:

Interesting look at it. I still own lots of DVDs and watch them, but I buy very few these days. I just rent now. Though I'm still peaved at rental windows. A couple of times I went to rent a movie and it was gone. There's no reason a service can't provide every movie ever made for rent. And I'm fine with DRM on rentals, as long as it plays the one time on the device I want it to.

John20212 says:

Nice article. I wish all the DRM was dead already all it does is stop me from buying digital content, as it is not really buying it when its DRMed. So I am stuck with buying Bluray disc movies, but there I also only support Studios that have embraced Region Free Bluray releases. I will not support locked in Bluray to A, B, or C; I had enoygh of that shit with DVD regions and how it screwed me on many occasions.

What I realized is that once music became DRM free I found myself buying a lot more of it, before that I just on occasion bought a CD when it was really good.

So at the end of the day only Hollywood is loosing millions by trying to screw consumers with DRM locked content; I wonder when they will realize that in the digital age locking down your content only hurts the content producers.
People that legitimate buy digital content want to have the freedom to use it how they want for their own consumption and not be locked it, as if everyone is a criminal; and I think it is safe to assume that the real criminals can bypass any DRM in seconds so at the end of the day what the hell is the point of it anyway?

Galley says:

Everyone used to complain about Apple having a virtual monopoly on the portable audio device category, but it was the record labels themselves that created that situation by insisting iTunes music purchases had DRM, and thus would only play on Apple devices.

moroboshi says:

Maybe, maybe not. Locking people into iTunes worked very nicely for Apple.

kevinbhayes says:

For music, I doubt it. People didn't continue to buy iTunes music and iPods because of lock-in. They did it because they didn't want any other music player.

DannyJJK says:

It's not true that you can only watch iTunes stuff on apple devices, it works with iTunes on Windows too

Sent from the iMore App

Taz89 says:

Can't disagree though I would argue if you were to get locked Into one I would choose Amazon as they are available almost everywhere where as with Apple it's only on Apple devices(not taking into account iTunes on Windows as I suspect we talking about mobile here)

Posted via the Android iMore App!

Timelessblur says:

I would argue that amoung the major digital video suppiers Apple is by far the worse and they are the worse for one simple reason. Videos from Apple will only play on Apple devices or your computer.
Lets compare that to Amazon and Google.

Amazon works on multiple TV, iOS devices, xBoxs ect. They pretty much work on anything netflex works on BUT android devices not counting the kindle.

Google I see long term being the most open on it. Right now they are still getting on devices but I see them working on pretty much everything.
That being said I want DRM to die as it requires way to many hoops to jump threw. I will admit I have download pirated DVD movies of some DVD that I had the ability to download a iTunes copy because I wanted the DRM stripped as I could only play the iTunes movie on my laptop as I do actively use another Apple product. I will be getting an iPad mini in the near future for development purpose and may buy an iPhone for the same reason but all in all it is low on my list of worries.

bobbob1016 says:

I was going to say this. Google and Amazon are sort of locked, but as Google and Amazon content work in their ecosystem, as well as Apple's, and Apple content only works in the Apple ecosystem, Apple is therefore more locked.

Timelessblur says:

Never said that they only worked in the other eco system but fact like you agreed Apple only works on Apple hardware hence the reason why Apple is by far the worse by a very healthy margin.

This is also the reason why a long time ago I made the decision to leave Apple's eco system and refuse to go to far into it as Apple makes it way to painful to even try to leave.
I could easily move into Apple ecosystem now and all my current ones for the most part would be fine and shift in there pretty well. Problem is Apple does not shift to another.

Rene Ritchie says:

Amazon doesn't work in Canada, how is that different than iTunes not working on Android?

Timelessblur says:

But iTunes does not work on anything but Apple.
As for the country I put that under a different mess and again that falls into the copy right law. From what I have read it has been hung up in the movie studios blocking it and not playing nice. It is clear Amazon wants to go their. Even if they went DRM free the same issue would be their. Amazon still would have to deal with the studios.

iTunes movies for me to play them on my TV it would require me owning an Apple TV or hooking my computer up to the TV. One is not going to happen and the other is an insane amount of work and tempomental at best.

Compare that with Amazon. My TV, Xbox, and Bluray player can all play them on my TV. If they would start supporting Chromecast that would add it to another device and in my case another TV it can play on.

Apple nope none of that and Apple has no plans to do that. As companies Apple is by far the worse due to their rather insane lock in.

I look at it as not working in Canada more under copy right law and a completely different beast. Not Apple's to Apple's. One can easily be solved (playing on other devices) other is hard to solve and dealing with the stupid dinosaurs (selling in another country)

kevinbhayes says:

I only support DRM on rentals. Because it doesn't inconvenience me in the slightest and there's no way to implement a "return" mechanism without it.

But don't get me started on availability windows. I don't understand why Hollywood doesn't want to make money by renting out back catalogues. There's no reason that every movie ever made can't be available for rent.

jkeitz says:

I've had to come to terms with the fact that we will be dealing with DRM for a long time to come, and as such I've decided that Apple is the safest and most versatile bet for me. I have an iPhone 5S, iPad 4, and Apple TV 3. In our home, we have another two iPads, three iPhones, and an iPod. I can also access my content (except books) on my PCs. In other words, while there is DRM attached, and I don't like that, I can already access all of my content on all of my devices. I wasn't born yesterday, and I know that my "purchased" content is subject to the whims of Hollywood, Apple, etc. I also know that I cannot legally or easily rip my DVDs or BluRay disks to watch them on my iPhone or iPad, so for now, this is the best legal option.

lets_dance says:

Actually, you CAN legally and easily rip your DVDs and BluRay discs to watch them as M4V files; I do it all the time. You just need the right software to do it. As long as you have purchased a physical copy of the media, you are perfectly within your rights to create a digital copy for your own private use. And by doing so, you can also rip the media at the resolution YOU want it to be at, instead of just accepting whatever resolution the publisher wants to give you.

johncblandii says:

Sure it is. It is locked to iOS/OS X. I can't watch iTunes content on my Nexus 7.

lets_dance says:

Rene, the only real way is to buy physical media and rip it yourself. That's what I do. Then I can use it on my iOS and OSX devices, my Windows devices, my Android devices, and even make my own mix CDs to listen the way I want to in my car... Same thing with ebooks; I just buy 'em in ePub format from a store that's not owned by Apple, Amazon or B&N, and then I can read them on whatever device I choose.