Right now you can pick almost any fairly-known to well-known artist, and it is safe to assume that you can purchase a music file by that artist on any digital download music service such as iTunes, Yahoo Music, Napster, Rhapsody, or MSN Music (but probably not SonyConnect/SonyMusic because they are just lame, they have their dumb proprietary formats, and their site will not work with Safari or Firefox). Granted that when you pick a vendor, you are locked into that device thanks to DRM, but you have a choice starting out. For the most part, none of the labels have exclusivity with any particular service.
Well, now the digital video landscape is shaping up. Apple has partnerships with NBC, ABC, and Disney/Pixar, Google is getting cozy with CBS, and Amazon is talking with Image Entertainment, Ardustry Home Entertainment, and First Look Entertainment.
Steve Jobs is now the single largest shareholder of Disney/Pixar (and sits on their board of directors) and of course is the head guy at Apple. What if he were to keep Disney/Pixar from making deals with any other video distribution service other than Apple? Could Google and Amazon follow and make exclusivity contracts with their content partners as well? If this is a case, consumers will really get screwed. And you thought this was bad. Not only can you not play the video on any device you want, but if you want specific content (a specific TV show or movie), you will have only one channel to buy it from, and a limited number of portable/home theater devices to play it on.
Are there any anti-trust or anticompetitive laws in place to keep this from happening? I don’t know. But lets hope it does not come down to this. Steve Jobs is a brilliant man. Remember Steve, it is all about the great user experience. You can make your customers even bigger fans, but you make your non-customers even bigger enemies.
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