Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Opinion: The Ownership Switch from User to Manufacturer

Kindle Fire HDI took away an interesting snippet from a story on the OS News site last week, in which editor Thom Holwerda discussed the Kindle tablets. The Kindle Fire HD is ad-supported, but now Amazon allows you to permanently remove the advertisements from your Fire HD for a $15 fee. Amazon was clear at the launch that the Fire was not a profit centre of itself and was designed is to get you to buy stuff at Amazon. Not unlike the Apple store, iTunes and Google's Android Marketplace - now replicated by HTC, Samsung and Microsoft and, it seems, every other device maker.

 Holwerda's complaint is that the iPad comes loaded with apps like News Stand, which can't be removed or even placed in a folder, and, "on top of that, makes it very annoying and cumbersome to buy content from other vendors than Apple." Amazon's persistent ads on the lock screen are much more intrusive. Microsoft's Xbox 360 has ads all over it, even for paid Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

The question is, where's is the surprise? Apple makes a good margin on hardware sales, with the iTunes and Apple Store eco-system locking in users to its devices. Everyone else is fighting falling hardware prices, aiming instead to put rival eco-systems in front of eyeballs they can lock in to ongoing sales through their stores.

Holwerda's parting shot struck me as a bit obvious and somewhat churlish:
'The inability to remove crap like this from devices we supposedly "own" is just a further sign that this "post-PC" world so many people gush about is nothing but a change of ownership from user to manufacturer.'

If you don't like it, there is an obvious answer, Thom. RC

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