Battle of the media ecosystems: Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft

Four large tech ecosystems are currently vying for our attention -- and for our dollars. How well are they succeeding?

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Until recently you would have said that Apple's iTunes is the clear winner in the music category. But Apple has fallen somewhat behind other ecosystems because until recently it did not have a streaming music service (although it may make up for lost ground once iTunes Radio hits in the fall). Microsoft's Xbox streaming music service is very good and Google has introduced a similar service. Amazon does not yet have a streaming service, although it does have a well-done cloud-based music player for playing music that you own.

Amazon's video offerings best the other ecosystems, not only in selling DVDs -- subscribers to Amazon Prime can stream all the video they want. And Amazon has taken a page from Netflix and is in the midst of producing its own shows as well.

When it comes to console and computer-based gaming, Microsoft rules, although it's well behind both Google and Apple in mobile gaming. And while mobile gaming is only a small percent of the gaming ecosystem today, that may well change.

The upshot of all this? Despite their best efforts, none of the companies has yet succeeded in creating the kind of complete media ecosystem that can rise above all its competitors. So for now it's still a mix-and-match world, and looks likely to stay that way for a long time to come.

This article, Battle of the media ecosystems: Amazon, Apple, Google and Microsoft, was originally published at

Michael deAgonia, a frequent contributor to Computerworld, is a writer, computer consultant and technology geek who has been working on computers since 1993. You can find him on Twitter ( @mdeagonia).

Preston Gralla is a contributing editor for and the author of more than 45 books, including Windows 8 Hacks (O'Reilly, 2012). See more by Preston Gralla on

JR Raphael is a Computerworld contributing editor and the author of the Android Power blog. For more Android tips and insights, follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook.

Read more about personal technology in Computerworld's Personal Technology Topic Center.

This story, "Battle of the media ecosystems: Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft" was originally published by Computerworld.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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