Save for the original iPhone launch, last week was arguably the biggest mobile moment for Apple.
The week after should be filled with anticipation about Wednesday’s release of iOS 8, Friday’s release of two new, bigger iPhones, and saving Christmas money for an Apple Watch.
But literally the first thing that Apple has addressed in the wake of its momentous announcements is developing an easy way to erase the new U2 album it shoehorned into every iTunes music library.
Apple said that 33 million people accessed Songs of Innocence, but it seems like enough complained about it, too. That would be the only reason warranting Apple to create a one-step process for expediting the eradication of U2’s first full-length since 2009’s No Line on the Horizon from Apple devices.
People generally like things like free albums but not when they tread over precious freedom of choice.
It’s not the first time Apple has partnered up with U2. In 2006, the company released a U2 special edition 32GB iPod that contained 30 minutes of exclusive U2 video content and looked cool except for the band members’ signatures etched on the back. That time around, Apple got it right by making its U2 fandom opt-in.
The round of press regarding the forced integration of U2 music echoes the blowback that surfaced around last summer’s partnership between Samsung and Jay-Z. The Korean manufacturer signed a deal to give away one million fee copies of Jay-Z’s Magna Carter Holy Grail to Galaxy S4, S3 and Note 2 owners before its official release. Issues for some would-be downloaders—including rapper Killer Mike—arose when the free app containing the album requested users’ private information ranging from contact lists to location.
If a promotion like this backfires a little, it would appear the only real thing at stake for tech giants like Apple and Samsung is huge amounts of money. In Samsung’s case, it paid $5 a copy for one million of Jay-Z’s forgettable Magna Carter. In Apple’s case, reports have pegged the price at an undisclosed fee along with the promise of a $100 million marketing campaign.
But perhaps more lasting than money down the drain, Apple and Samsung have been able to attach their names to the moments when great musicians saw their cool stock hit all-time lows.
How many more artists must cash in credibility to hitch their wagon to a smartphone star? How many more manufacturers must package inessential music with their hero phones? The answer remains unclear but until the practice stops, complaints about unauthorized downloads and privacy invasion will continue to steal some thunder from perfectly good smartphones.