Technology Tales

Adventures & experiences in contemporary technology

US, not us?

5th December 2007

As of the time of writing, Amazon MP3 is only available to customers in the U.S. of A., so any enthusiasm for its provision of DRM-free digital music offerings has to be tempered by that limitation on its availability. Apple’s iTunes store offers some, but locked down tracks are its mainstay. Amazon’s restrictions aren’t the first in the digital audio world and they are unlikely to be the last too. Pandora have done it in the world of internet radio, and I seem to remember that iTunes might have done it too in their time.

There may be other reasons, but licensing and royalties might need to be negotiated country by country, slowing the rolling out of new products across the world. The iPhone faced an equivalent situation, though that involved mobile telephony providers. Commercial considerations pervade too and I suppose that a worldwide launch of the iPhone might have been too complex a feat for Apple to manage; they probably wanted to nurture a sense of anticipation among customers in any case.

It seems that things are still following the pattern that at least used to be endemic in the motion picture industry: the U.S. gets to see a film first and then everywhere else thereafter. Being able to reuse the movie film reels used in American cinemas has been the studios’ advantage from the staggered releases. Because cinema releases have been staggered, video and DVD releases were staggered too so it’s both intriguing and frustrating to see American companies using a similar launching strategy in wholly different market sectors. It’s amazing how old habits die hard…

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