Botched launch. Terminal? Probably not, but we expect so much of Apple.
We had to listen to Jimmy and Drake testify, but no one focused on usability, no one told us how it actually worked, that would have been a better use of WWDC time, instead we got smoke and mirrors about a “revolutionary” product, how classic entertainment business.
Do I need new software?
I don’t think the average person would be aware of this, however, I am, I know you need a new iTunes and a new iOS. I decided to download both simultaneously, a big mistake.
There were no notices on my computer, nothing telling me about this great new product. So I went to Software Update, where I found 10.10.4 waiting for me, I figured Apple Music was baked in.
Now I’ve got a maxed-out iMac 5k and 200 down, and it took me the better part of fifteen minutes to install the update. And then it didn’t work.
I went to iTunes. Kept clicking, saw nothing.
Went to Safari, followed the prompts. Got back to iTunes, was told to upgrade but then the program said it was up to date. Downloaded the latest iteration and it still didn’t work.
Then I went to research… Google told me APPLE HADN’T PUSHED 12.2 TO CUSTOMERS YET! That’s right, on launch day, you can’t use it, at least not on your Mac or PC, until Apple deigns to send the software, all that hype for…nothing.
My iPhone gave me no notice of an update, I had to go to the Settings, to General and then search to see if they pushed new software.
But eventually my iPhone rebooted. Which took forever, and I’m running a 6. And I found Apple Music. It immediately wanted to charge me.
Hmm… I don’t like coughing up my credit card and neither does anyone else. And since Apple already has my credit card…I’m more fearful of cancelability, or forgetfulness. That’s right, you can’t cancel subscriptions in America, just call your cable company and try. Furthermore, gotchas abound. If I try to cancel a subscription one minute into the next month, they charge me for that, so I abhor making the commitment to subscribe whenever it requires financial information.
Now we know why Jimmy said he was gonna kill free. Through time-treasured American bait and switch techniques. The barrier to entry is supposed to be low, you’re supposed to charge AFTER! How many kids are gonna ask their parents to pay and get no in response? How many parents are gonna be PISSED when they find out they’ve been charged for something they thought was free, which will happen in October.
So I decide to log in with my Beats account, all the news says it’s gonna prompt me to convert to Apple Music. That didn’t happen.
But I hit the button on the mobile app and registered anyway… And what did I find… NONE OF THE INTUITIVE GRACE APPLE IS FAMOUS FOR! Kinda looked like the old iTunes Store, all I could see was what I paid for…
On the bottom I found radio, I clicked and heard what I did not want to. Looked for the OFF button. Hard to find. Eventually found a triangle near the bottom of the screen.
So there are five buttons at the bottom of the screen, and the first is “For You.” I click and I get the damn bubbles for Beats’s curation algorithm. Didn’t this fail once already? Apple does not do cutesy, but it does here.
So I’m waiting for the new iTunes, so I can listen more to Beats 1. I don’t want to use my iPhone while I’m working at my desk.
As for the vaunted playlists… Where are they, how do I find them? Do I have to click on the damn bubbles?
Now I’m not saying Apple Music is a failed product that will get no traction. But I am saying people have an unrealistic expectation of its functionality and ultimate impact.
First and foremost, you’ve got to let people know about it. I’ll argue Apple has not done the greatest job here, it’s equivalent to a soft launch, but with more than a modicum of publicity.
Second, USABILITY! What Apple built its rep on. How do I download, install and use the damn product? I’ve never been flummoxed to this extent before with an Apple offering. Even the Watch was easier. And they said they were gonna beat Spotify on interface…make me laugh.
Third, USABILITY! Once I’m in, how do I use it? All I keep hearing is about playlists, but where are they? How about one page with easy instructions, how about instructions in the app? I didn’t see them.
Apple Music will have an impact, it will gain customers. The brand will get people started, but only word of mouth will make it primary. The truth is many people don’t have subscription streaming services and a great proportion of them may not even be aware of them, or how they work. So, despite Spotify’s penetration, we’re not that far from the starting line.
But when you make it hard to install and want me to give my credit card up front…
You look like a sleazy American company, like a hated cable operation, and you make people reluctant.
This is no way to launch a revolution.
P.S. Yes, the first three months are free. But, right up front you commit to paying when that runs out, you link to your iTunes account, which has a credit card attached.
P.P.S. We do live in a mobile world, so desktop functionality is secondary. But those most prone to subscribing are the Luddites, and they start on the desktop machine.
P.P.P.S. Apple bought SoundJam to build iTunes and cleaned it up to be easier to use, as well as adding functionality. If you don’t think Apple Music looks just like Beats Music, you never used Beats Music. Except there’s more clutter and it’s less intuitive. Makes me think you should keep techies and music business people separate. As in Jimmy Iovine can hype, but he can’t code.
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