Stephen Tyler

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.

Why do Amazon & Apple Hate Families?

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Danny Sullivan writes in Why Do Amazon & Apple Hate Families?:

With the Apple iPad and the Amazon Kindle Fire among the hot gifts for families this year, it’s pretty sad that neither device has any concept of “family” baked into it. Used by plenty of children, these devices ironically aren’t intended for them.

Danny makes a lot of good points.  When you purchase a physical book, you can freely pass it between the members of your family.  Almost nobody purchases multiple copies of the same book so that each child can read the book.  Nor do husbands and wives.  Families share.  But that doesn’t work with iTunes or Amazon’s Kindle unless everybody uses the same account.  And when everybody uses the same account, the account becomes littered with inappropriate material (kiddy apps for an adult, and mature books and apps for children).

Sharing an account has other problems too – it becomes much harder to prevent kids from inadvertently racking up a huge bill in “In App Purchases” on things like Smurf Berries.  And things like settings, address books, calendars and more cannot be customised for the user, as the device thinks every member of the family is the same person.  But not sharing an account has additional problems, as Danny Sullivan notes:

Both Windows and the Mac allow for the same computer to be used by different people, each with their own account. A family can share the same computer without stepping on each others settings.

But what if a mother wants to let her child use her iPad? There’s no way to “sign-out” and sign the child in, to view their own menus and apps (trust me, plenty of parents would kill for this feature).

Similarly, what if a Kindle is being shared by a family, but each family member has their own Amazon account? You have to deregister the Kindle from the current account and then reregister it to the new one.

So what is a family supposed to do?  The official solution appears to be that every person in the family has their own account and their own devices.  And every app, tune and book needs to be repurchased for every person.  Clearly that is not satisfactory.

As Danny Sullivan suggests, Apple & Amazon need to think more deeply about the concept of family accounts.  The current system is clearly broken.

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