There’s a media war on, I’m sure you’ve heard. In fact, almost all of the tech news that is news these days is centered on the media war and the companies involved therein. Seriously, think about it. When was the last time you heard any tech news that didn’t involve Apple, Google, Amazon, or Facebook? Twitter? Doesn’t count - the most relevant Twitter news is service outages. Netflix? Sure, but when did you hear it without Amazon or Apple nearby? For better or worse, this is our future. The billion dollar companies of today are hoping to become the billion dollar companies of tomorrow by inventing new and interesting ways to get content in front of the millions of consumers currently using their services. You might notice one standout in the list of might-be media conglomerates: Facebook.
Facebook is there because, as Forbes has it, the social giant is looking to launch a streaming music service with Europe’s Spotify. Several reports have since emerged that suggest Forbes’ own speculation is a bit premature, but is it really so far-fetched? That service likely won’t launch in the two week window Forbes predicted, but it could very well become a reality in the future. After all, what makes Facebook so different from Amazon or Apple, the two most prominent media factions? A history of delivering media? Facebook has been doing that for some time, serving up photos and videos across user pages. That’s a very different scale from Amazon’s video-on-demand or the iTunes store, but it’s the kind of humble beginning that could translate into a huge problem for Apple and Amazon.
I actually think Facebook will be putting the squeeze on Amazon’s media delivery over the next several years. See, Apple gets it. Apple sees the power of social when it comes to media consumption. Hell, the company tried to put together a social network. Granted, Ping was a giant failure - I’d wager most of the people reading this don’t remember what it is - but at least Apple can see the writing on the wall. Amazon, on the other hand, is focused on what works now. The company’s video-on-demand service is starting to shape up and could easily compete with Netflix in the next couple years, but is that too late?
Imagine that Forbes is wrong about Facebook and Spotify, at least as far as premium integration is concerned. Let’s assume, though, that Spotify ties in to Facebook at a level that includes sharing songs and playlists with friends, the possibility of track and video debuts across the platform, watchable with your choice of friends. It actually sounds pretty cool, and the logical extension of that service would also be cool. Movie debut on Facebook? The question then becomes whether or not Facebook needs a content delivery provider like Netflix or Amazon to be involved.
Lastly, where does Apple fall in all of this? Well, Apple has the iOS platform, which is why I think we’ll see Facebook’s media entry cut into Amazon instead of Apple. The iTunes/iOS integration is just too nice, too pretty for people to give it up for Facebook media. Also, let’s not forget that iOS is a closed platform. Apple has total control over what ends up on that device. You can bet your ass Apple will drop Netflix from iOS the day the company puts together a subscription streaming service should that day ever come. For the immediate future, Amazon is still a player, but I think Facebook will be making some serious progress toward becoming a media house of its own by 2015.