I paid for it!  It's mine, isn't it?  Uh no

I paid for it! It’s mine, isn’t it? Uh no

Something for the weekend I lost Britain. An evil entity fled with a whole group of islands and all its inhabitants.

“Try to remember where you last saw it,” Mrs D helpfully suggests. I think hard and it comes back to me: the last time I saw the ancient islands of my Celtic ancestry was there. a week ago, on Replay. I found Brittany – the ridiculous non-historical fantasy TV drama about the second Roman invasion in AD 43 – available free on demand through my TV streaming services.

I had already seen the series when it was released but I thought it would be funny to see it badly dubbed (is there another way?) in French. Stopping reading Episode 2 halfway through in order to have a cup of tea, I forgot about it until a week later, after which I figured I’d pick up where I left off.

Except this time Brittany was not found. Had it sunk in the North Sea?

In fact, he had simply walked away. It was no longer swinging among Replay’s free titles, but had headed for the high seas of streaming profitability, taken the pay-per-view turn, and was now moored in the marina of subscription-only content.

The system remembered the exact second I paused episode 2. Infuriatingly, it refused to play the rest unless I subscribed to one of those 15 trillion little chains with forgettable brand names such as “Bevel” or “Wigeon” which start up constantly. and close with a half-life shorter than that of hydrogen-5.

Pay-per-view doesn’t bother me. You pay, you watch, it’s like going to the movies, but without the crying babies, the incessant chatter or the risk of getting fucked after asking a group of kids next to you to put down their smartphones for two fucking seconds.

Subscriptions, on the other hand, trick you into believing that you can just go back and read the content as often as you want, as long as you remain subscribed. But this is not the case. For example, when I started watching Brittany Episode 2, it was included in my streaming TV subscription; a week later it was not. And who says the subscription channel that now hosts the show will still be running next week?

Ah, I notice that another option is displayed on the screen: “Buy”.

It’s the worst of all the options. “What’s the problem”, you ask? “If you buy the series, it’s yours to watch forever.”

Hahaha. Are you kidding? If not, I suggest you try claiming one of those “lifetime warranties” you see taped to the packaging of a tech product that disappears a year later. You’ll soon find that “lifespan” doesn’t mean a human lifespan or even the lifespan of whatever other kit you plug it into, but “the interesting lifespan the manufacturer could care less about”.

For advice on measuring the last mentioned period, I refer you to Hydrogen-5, above.

Longtime PlayStation Store customers in Germany and Austria were given a nasty shock earlier this month when they read that movies they had previously purchased were at risk of being stolen. Unless the PlayStation Store comes back to confirm otherwise in the next few weeks, Studiocanal content must be removed from customers’ digital libraries from the end of August, even if these customers had paid for them in cash, without any mention of refunds. for the moment.

And so another generation learns that you never own software; even less if it’s only supported and stored on a streaming server owned by the company you bought it from.

The first time I was burned this way was when the French digital comics platform AVE passed away 10 years ago. They gave me fair warning, but I never really managed to download all the comics I purchased. That is, I downloaded a few of my paid albums only to find that they were just flat PDFs, not the auto-zooming, progressive-reading digital comics I had decided to spend on my money. By the time it took me to realize that downloading the content in its interactive but proprietary AVE file format would make them incompatible with everything (I’m a slow thinker) it was too late and the site became inaccessible for good.

When Comixology announced it was finally getting sucked into the Kindle blob, I downloaded absolutely everything the same afternoon.

Adobe caused a lot of ill will around the same time when it repeatedly restructured the pricing of its first InDesign-centric app production platform, known as the Digital Publishing Suite. To be fair, the landscape of digital content delivery was changing rapidly at the time and I think Adobe was one of the first big names to admit that offering indefinite and unlimited content storage in the cloud was not made no financial sense.

App users would not hesitate to delete content from their devices to free up space. Later they could upload it again. It’s one thing to host a website; it’s another to host thousands of terabytes of high-resolution media content and allow customers to download the same content over and over again whenever they want. The customer paid once, but Adobe had to make sure all those bloody servers were working all day and all night to serve that content forever. It will never work, even as a loss leader.

It’s not just about content; not just software. Hardware is particularly affected by the same issues, as much of it today relies on cloud-based support and updates.

As IT professionals, this is no big surprise. Much of the work involves constant maintenance and regular updating. We know that nothing digital is persistent. Even archive management requires you to monitor the IT market to ensure that the formats and platforms you currently use will not be obsolete and that the systems needed to read archives will be irreplaceable by the end of the year. next. You have to keep moving the data to keep it accessible.

The consumer doesn’t see it that way at all. They are still in a state of shock “I bought all these Betamax titles and now I’m drunk” and refuse to accept that this is just the way of technology.

Except… young buyers are finally waking up to the short useful life of computer products, which could be a problem for some parts of the consumer computing industry. Take smart video baby monitors, for example. It’s a great idea, sure, but what are you going to do with all that kit once little Algernon is in training pants? That’s a lot of money for a convenience that will barely last a year, and, you know, there’s a recession on the way.

Hubble Connected – a maker of these baby video monitoring solutions – would like to persuade you that the device can serve a longer life beyond the nursery, as home security cameras for example.

Well, maybe, but only if Hubble itself continues to support the kit. Many paranoid households were burned by Hive’s recent announcement that it was going to discontinue its own home security products, gradually bricking Hive hardware from September 2023 to August 2025. It’s bad enough that no one owns the software for which he paid; Apparently, you also don’t “own” much more of what happens to the hardware you’ve purchased.

And what about Sonos dropping support for older product lines? These are not companies going bankrupt – we are all subject to what happens, of course. Rather, it’s companies that have changed their minds, or got bored, or had a rocky meeting with a new CFO who wants to know whose stupid idea was to accept ever-diminishing hardware returns. support that customers naively think they own as a result of having paid for them…once.

Just once! Think about it!

There is no room in the subscription model for one-time purchases. Whatever you thought you bought, you didn’t, not really. Whether it’s software or hardware, none of it belongs to you and never has.

But it is only natural. I say it literally: the subscription is the Natural order of things. Existentially speaking, we are all, each one of us, by subscription.

Just keep paying for the subscriptions and hope the support doesn’t drop anytime soon, huh?

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Alistair Dabbs

Alistair Dabbs is a freelance tech enthusiast, juggling tech journalism, training, and digital publishing. Later he found a complete box set of three Britannia series on DVD (gosh) at an HMV (oh gosh again) in Cardiff. More SFTW here. Other things at Autosave are for Wimps and @alidabbs.


#paid #isnt

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