For as long as I can remember, consumers have been saying that with digital content, they want to purchase it one time and then have the ability to watch it on any device they choose. While that desire has yet to come to fruition in the market, the fact that Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is forcing people to have to buy the same apps over and over again, just because they come out with a new device, really shows the monopoly Apple has with their iTunes platform.
I love MLB.TV, even more than Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) streaming, as I am more interested in baseball than movies. But if wanted to get MLB on the iPad, I will have to pay MLB a third time, for the same piece of content. I bought MLB.TV for the PC, MLB's AtBat app for the iPhone and then would need to buy MLB's app for the iPad. How many times do consumers have to pay for the same piece of content?
While MLB might be just fine with the current model, what If MLB wanted to include the iPhone or iPad apps as part of the MLB.TV package so that the users don't feel like they are being nickeled and dimed? It would be a better user experience and would also give MLB an incentive to up-sell their higher priced MLB.TV package. But with Apple's iTunes ecosystem, currently there is no way to grant subscribers free access to a paid app. Right now, there isn't the ability to give codes to MLB.TV subscribers during the purchase process that would make a paid app part of their subscription.
To me, this lack of flexibility in the iTunes ecosystem makes no sense and is a bad decision on Apple's part. I know someone is going to be quick to comment that it makes sense because Apple makes a lot of money from it. Of course they do, but that only makes sense to Apple's bottom line, not to consumers. And since iTunes would not exist without content partners, Apple should be working harder to make their content partners look better and provide a better user-experience.
Imagine how much flack MLB will take when some consumers realize they are paying three times for the same content. They will complain to MLB and MLB will take all the heat when it's not even MLB's fault. Now I don't know that MLB would even consider giving MLB.TV subscribers the other apps for free, but if they did want to, they couldn't because Apple won't allow iTunes to do that. Apple has such a monopoly over content owners with iTunes that neither the consumer nor the content owner has much say in how content is purchased, consumed or played back.
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