Amazon, on the other hand, started with a vision of an integrated ecosystem almost from its founding -- in a New York Times interview from 2005, CEO Jeffrey Bezos is quoted as saying that it is "...very important to get into new categories beyond books reasonably quickly." You have to wonder, however, if the company ever envisioned the sprawling network it would become.
Here's how each one grew.
Entertainment media is part of Amazon's basic DNA: The company was founded as a book-selling site in 1994. When it began branching out into selling other products, it initially focused on CDs and DVDs, and then added games, electronics -- and, eventually, everything else under the sun.
But even as Amazon broadened its reach beyond media, that segment remained a strong focus. Its first acquisitions of other businesses were mainly entertainment-related, including the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) in 1999, the online music retailer CDNow in 2003 and many others.
Today, Amazon is a retail behemoth, but media remains its core business --- witness its Kindle line of devices, all of which are designed to make it easier to buy books, movies, TV shows and music. And while other retailers have attempted to compete -- such as Barnes & Noble with its Nook line of e-readers -- so far, none have made serious inroads against the Amazon Goliath.
So it should be no surprise that its media ecosystem is powerful, well-integrated, and possibly the largest in the world.
In 1984, Apple's Macintosh was the first mass market computer to ship with a graphical user interface and mouse, opening up computing to users uncomfortable with the then-standard text-and-keyboard-based interface. After that, a flurry of technology initiatives -- from iMovie in 1999 to iTunes in 2001 to iPhoto in 2002 -- emphasized Apple's intentions to bring computerized media to its users.
However, it was the company's first foray into digital audio players that changed Apple's fortunes and validated its strategy. Apple's first music player, the iPod, introduced in 2001, was about the size of a deck of cards. Designed around Toshiba's 1.8-in. 5GB hard drive, it could hold approximately a thousand songs and automatically synchronized data and music content from the Mac using the already popular iTunes as the intermediary. It became the keystone for what Apple co-founder, chairman and CEO Steve Jobs termed his "Digital Hub" concept, where Apple's technology would be positioned at the center of the rising digital lifestyle.
The other shoe dropped during an April press event in 2003 when Apple introduced the iTunes Music Store, which offered the simple pricing structure of 99 cents per song and $9.99 per album. Any song purchase would automatically download and add itself to the music library -- which, in turn, would sync with iPods.
There was, however, a catch: The tracks were encoded with digital rights management (DRM) software, which limited playback and management to three computers (but an unlimited number of iPods).