In mid-October, we published a story on the entertainment ecosystems of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon – looking at to what degree their music, movie, TV, eBook and app stores were available in international markets. Apple on the whole seemed to have the best average availability – slightly losing to Microsoft for the app stores and Amazon dominating everyone in the eBook store.
I’ve decided to briefly revisit the topic today because the original post garnered quite a lot of discussion and feedback and because of two “events” that have since happened. Firstly, Apple yesterday announced an expansion of the iTunes Music Store into dozens of new countries (and Movie store in a few additional countries). Secondly, I have since found two pieces of data on which countries Xbox Music is available in (for some odd reason I cannot find any official Microsoft document detailing the countries it is available in). So below is an update to the Music and Movie diagrams and graphs.
Note: Read the original ‘Mapping the Entertainment Ecosystems’ post which includes diagrams for eBooks, TV and App Stores.
Please note: An update to this article is available here, it includes the December 2012 iTunes expansion (Music & Movies) as well as Xbox Music.
The choice of what phone or tablet to buy is one that often involves many considerations, chief amongst those is the physical device and the operating system that it runs. But I think there is a third fundamental consideration that is growing in importance: what services and entertainment ecosystems you’ll be able to access. You need only look back to the recent criticism of iOS 6, in which Apple replaced Google Maps with their own Maps app. Summing it up generally, Apple’s Maps app is sub-par to what it was replacing and that mattered to people – enough that Tim Cook felt the need to apologise for the frustration the switch caused.
Today I want to focus specifically on the entertainment ecosystems of Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon. I’m referring to the various digital content stores that are run by Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon – specifically their Music, Movies, TV Shows, eBooks and App stores. In my mind, there are four general aspects that make a good entertainment ecosystem:
- Wide selection of quality content
- Competitive prices
- International availability
- Interoperable on a user’s devices
I want to explore the third aspect in depth today, because it’s something that I feel is all too often downplayed by the technology press (which, coincidentally, is based predominantly in the US). I’ll also briefly discuss the fourth aspect as well at the end. Why are these two aspects so important? Well, smartphones and tablets are devices that have universal appeal, so for Apple or any of the other three to win the smartphone or tablet “race” – an entertainment ecosystem that is available across the world, not just in the US, isn’t just a cool extra feature, it’s a necessity. The US may be one of the biggest markets for such devices today, but is there any doubt that these devices will rival the prevalence of personal computers (which are everywhere) in years to come?
I’ve collected data on which countries each service is available in and then added in population figures to create many of the graphs and diagrams you’ll see below, mixed in with some of my own analysis and thoughts. Please note that the five HTML5 map diagrams are interactive, click on the logos of the four companies to compare their coverage.