One site to rule them all

Suddenly, I've begun to appreciate the genius of Amazon's digital media strategy. With a Kindle, a TiVo set up for Amazon Unbox videos, and a sizeable MP3 downloading habit, I've used pretty much all their download services. And today I just realized that I have a central media library, where all the books, movies, television shows, and music I've purchased are stored. If I lose anything, I can re-download from their central server (unlike iTunes, which made me buy again). I can retrieve them through the device, or push them from Amazon.

The convenience of the thing is already a big selling point over places like Netflix (though with the selection still somewhat skimpy, I'm holding onto the subscription). The lack of DRM is a big advantage over iTunes. But the central storage is a killer app. It doesn't cost Amazon much--they only need one copy on their servers--but it saves me a hell of a lot of room and annoyance in arranging backups. And being able to browse your whole library in one place--as well as share it with others--is pretty damn useful.

Amazon still has a ways to go on accumulating content, but that seems like their smallest challenge, given their already powerful distribution relationships. The other stuff needs some UI tweaks, but it's already basically there. This may save TiVo. And force Apple to step up their game.

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Megan McArdle is a columnist at Bloomberg View and a former senior editor at The Atlantic. Her new book is The Up Side of Down.

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