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Google Play: Yet Another Ecosystem

April 12, 2012

So, Google introduce Play.

I first came across this when the Android Store updated itself out of existence, to be replaced with the nonsensically-titled ‘Play’, which wanted me to agree to it, and its Terms of Use. Eventually it turned out that this was Google’s own version of the full iTunes experience: books, movies and songs as well as the apps which had formerly made up the Store.

Now I can buy all my entertainment from Google, whereas before I could buy it all from Apple, or Facebook, or possibly Netflix or Amazon (and if I couldn’t, then no doubt soon I will be able to). Of course the sensible question asked by analysts and journalists is: “why buy everything off Google, instead of where I normally shop?”

And while this is a sensible question, it unwittingly gets to the heart of a deeper issue: how do we decide which ‘ecosystem’ to use? And what would make us change from one to another? This isn’t just a matter of changing supermarkets, or record shops.

If the ecosystem we use has slightly higher prices on one of its products – say, MP3s – then we’re still so knee-deep in that ecosystem (saved credit card details, synchronisation with our device) that we feel more reluctance to move over the border.


So, that’s the essence of the problem. I now have, presented before me, a whole other world of ebooks, music and movies from which to pick. I’m now less likely to bother with iTunes (in fact, operating an iTunes account alongside a Google Play one, alongside etc etc etc would probably be a right royal pain in the arse). But I also now have access to ebooks that is less attractive to me because I have a Kindle, so my ebook universe is already taken care of.

But surely that’s a really bad thing, yes?

I’ve already gone into why I’m never going to take the plunge fully into ebooks, and the same issues apply to all digital downloads (I may consider ‘loans’ although that is a crazy false concocted concept in this world of abundance).

These days, it seems, you pick your corp, and you have everything you need. It’s like starting to shop at Tesco, then realising that to move to Sainsbury’s you’ll have to convert all your pans, ovens, spoons and cups to match.

So what ecosystem do you inhabit?

And what would it take to get you to change?

Update: Microsoft’s Zune ecosystem

17/04/2012: It seems that Microsoft will only let you have five phones attached to their Zune ecosystem. Something to do with licensing and pirating. It’s a high limit for most people, but again a technology giant is having to create a problem that shouldn’t exist.