The Increasingly Frustrating World of Digital Content

Yesterday, Amazon released their Amazon Instant Video app for iPad, which allows you to instantly watch any video available on their catalog. Much to my – and many others – dismay, it doesn’t allow you to watch the videos over AirPlay. The same exact video you paid for can be watched on your lap, but not on the TV. You may be able to tape the iPad to the wall and watch it that way, but you should read the full terms of service to be sure.

You can read the New York Times on the web and on your iPhone for $15/month. If you also want to access those articles on your iPad, it will cost you an extra $20/month. Reading the same exact words ranges from $15-$35/month, depending on which device you use to read it. Oh look, here comes the iPad Mini, that will be another $15/month…

I can pay $5/month for unlimited streaming from Rdio on the web or desktop app. If I also want to listen to it on my iPad while I’m in the kitchen making dinner, I have to pay $10/month. For the privilege of streaming the same exact bits to my iPad, it costs $5 more per month. If I carry my laptop into the kitchen, I can save $60/year.

I could go on, but in all these cases, I’m paying for the content itself, yet I also need to pay based on how I consume it. I’m sure there are a multitude of business reasons for this – such as archaic licensing restrictions – but as a consumer, I don’t really care. All I know is it’s frustrating and feels like I’m being nickel and dimed. I just want to pay for content without arbitrary restrictions. If you don’t want my money, that’s no problem, I’m sure a more progressive company will come along that will.

That reminds me, isn’t Netflix is producing original content now?