After using iTunes and Google Play Store to download and buy some digital media, I wanted to see which store was the best and most convenient to use.
It’s weird to see that in 2014, there is still no web version of iTunes. The name itself doesn’t make sense anymore : on the desktop, you can use iTunes to download music, movies, TV shows, podcasts, books, and even iOS apps (which you can’t use on your computer, very useful…).
With all its features, desktop iTunes has become a real mess. It’s better on iOS though : you just use iTunes for buying music, movies and TV shows, and then you have dedicated apps to consume each kind of media. Books and Podcasts are separate apps (with their own integrated store) that you have to download though.
In comparison, Google Play Store is a one stop shop : you can get every kind of media (except Podcasts, a weird omission), even devices. With the web app, the store is also more ubiquitous than iTunes. I also like the fact that the music and books sections have a digital locker : you can upload your own collection of media and stream them on the web, iOS and Android.
Also, unlike iTunes, you can pay for content with Paypal and not give your credit card info to Google, which is nice.
The only thing that I miss with with the Play Store is the ability to download purchased movies on your computer. There is also less info of the quality of the movie catalogue (is it 720p or 1080p ?)
Next to Apple and Google, Microsoft is way behind : except of Xbox Music and Xbox Video (which are badly named), you can’t get books and magazines. There is a Windows Phone app for podcasts, but nothing on Windows 8 or on the web.
Weirdly, you can’t buy music from the Xbox Music web app, and you cannot also add content to a wish list… Small consolation, you can buy content with your Paypal account, like on Google Play.
It seems that Google is the most ubiquitous player, with a web store and some native apps on iOS. I also expect them to bring more synergies between the Play Store and YouTube : A new music subscription service called YouTube Music Key is reportedly on the way, but I also expect them to try to compete with Netflix. Because why iTunes and Google Play would allow you to rent movies but not music, and subscribe to music and not to movies/TV ?
I also didn’t talk about Amazon, which is right now not as ubiquitous as the other players. But competition is good and I expect to see a lot of things to happen in the digital media distribution field in 2015.