Apple and Amazon Planning Programs for Sharing Digital Media

In what could prove to be a bold move, Amazon and Apple are planning to allow customers to share media purchased from their digital storefronts with family members. Similar language is being used by both companies to describe the programs, and both are launching around the same time. Apple’s “Family Sharing” program will be available via its new iOS 8 software, while Amazon’s “Family Library” is scheduled to join hardware and software updates slated for the end of October.

connections214“Both programs also have restrictions, but have a straightforward pitch: If you buy something from one of their stores, you can download digital copies to multiple devices,” writes Peter Kafka for Re/code.

“So if your husband buys one of the ‘Game of Thrones’ books for his Amazon Kindle, you could also read it on your Kindle Fire tablet, or read it on your Kindle app on your iPhone. Or your kids could download a ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ app to their iPad for free, if you’ve already bought one.”

Not surprisingly, there are caveats for both. Amazon’s program will only apply to apps and media available through its Prime Instant Video program. And Apple’s fine print points out that “not all content types are available in all countries.” There are also systems in place for both to prevent sharing beyond your family.

“But even with the asterisks and omissions, this is a good thing,” suggests Kafka. “Neither company is charging a premium for this, and both seem to be making a good faith effort to let you consume stuff you bought, when and where you like.”