All About The Content Razorblades
The Interwebs platform wars continue to escalate.
Not days after I read Ken Auletta’s fine New Yorker piece on the U.S. antitrust suit against Apple and several book publishers for alleged price fixing — a scheme that clearly had Amazon and its Kindle Fire in its gunsights — do we discover that Amazon is working with Foxconn on its own mobile mousetrap, one that, like the Fire, would presumably provide easy access to all kinds of compelling content from Amazon’s vast cloud of digital entertainment.
Books, movies, gaming apps…Amazon’s play suggests that the Internet industry is moving into the razor/razorblade club, with the devices being the razors, and the razorblades being all that vast digital content.
I, personally, mostly don’t care which razor I use. I’ve owned tablets and smartphones both Android and iOS now, and most recently have given a Kindle (not the Fire) a test drive.
The most important element for me in the digital content wars are the depth and sophistication of the content libraries themselves.
That is to say, help me move beyond Amazon and Apples’ 57 Channels On Demand and Nothing On!
Amazon’s bookstore, of course, has virtually the world’s book population at your disposal, so no complaints when it comes to reading (although I do agree we need healthy, competitive alternatives to the Amazon reading ecosystem).
But when I go into my Amazon Prime movie library, which lets me watch some movies for free with my Prime subscription, it’s like dragging the bottom of the movie barrel.
To some degree, I see the same problem with Netflix, although Netflix has seemed to have worked more diligently to expand its library. Amazon Prime, on the other hand, just added a bunch of new episodes of William F. Buckley’s “Firing Line.”
Woo hoo, where do I renew my subscription??!
The cloud providers may be lining to try and lock in as many denizens as they can via their device and subscription services, but the form factor is less important than the catalog function.
What’s kept me from cutting my own cord on the TV is the fact that the Netflix’s and Amazons of the world don’t have enough diversity of content (never mind live event access to major sporting events, which for my money are msotly worth the high cost of monthly cable subscriptions alone).
So if the Apples and Googles and Amazons really want to move these markets, they need to quickly hire some sophisticated business development executives and hard-driving attorneys who can make some negotiation headway in the hills of Hollywood’s film libraries rather than try to draw lines around the device footprints.
It’s never about the razors, always about the razorblades.