Did Darth Tim Cook wave his black-gloved hand and try to command with Jedi mind tricks that the world’s brainless commoners embrace U2’s new album Songs of Innocence? I can almost see it now:
The camera pans from the star-dotted black screen to the window of a sleek silver spaceship. The ominous face of Cook can be seen from the exterior. He’s wearing a hooded cape, and his mindless inferiors sit with folded hands and heads down. Darth Tim turns around, and the corners of his lips turn upward in an evil grin, much like that utterly terrifying smile the Grinch has after he devises his plan to ruin the year’s best holiday in How the Grinch Stole Christmas.
“The album will appear on their phones, and they will like it,” he says with a wave of his hand.
“They will like it,” they tonelessly reply.
“Get me Bono on the hologram projection pod.”
“Yes, my lord.”
OK, OBVIOUSLY ridiculous, but given the social media backlash to Apple’s recent album giveaway, I’d almost think this is what actually happened. It’s funny to me though, because people do some abnormal things to score free stuff, like camp outside new Chick-fil-A franchises to be one of the first 100 customers to win free food for a year. Or dress like pirates to get a free dozen donuts from Krispy Kreme. Have you been at a sports event when they get out the t-shirt guns? Suddenly the staid lady next to you turns into a manic banshee just to score a most-likely-oversized t-shirt.
So, when given a free album by one of the most popular bands in the world, why did so many react so negatively? Is it because they hate U2? Was it because it was already in their iTunes library? (May I digress here and just pose a drastically different scenario than the one I wrote above: that maybe some people brainstormed in a meeting with some coffeecake and Diet Cokes [or maybe granola and Naked Juices since this is Apple] about how convenient it would be for consumers to already have the album in their library, saving them several steps to acquire it? Maybe this is a rose-colored-glasses perspective, but I imagine that whoever’s decision this was wasn’t all “Muahaha! We’re taking over the world” in their intent.)
Nate Scott over at USA Today suggests “that people love the choice to get something for free.” That “the only thing we have that’s truly ours in this onslaught of stuff is our choice. We get to choose what to click on, what to pay for, what to listen to.” When offering incentives, companies don’t dictatorially force anyone to participate. The consumer succumbs to the irresistible allure of crispy chicken biscuits (for a year!) or hot donuts with just the slightest crunch in the glaze (a whole dozen!) and chooses to spend the night in a parking lot or don an outrageous costume.
As of April 2014, Apple still has one of the largest cash reserves in the world. And that’s including other corporations and entire countries. The company also sold 10 million new iPhones in just the first weekend. So, the album release might be categorized as a PR glitch, yes, but definitely not one for the ages.
Oh, has anyone actually listened to the album? Thoughts?
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Jeanne Petrizzo – Writer/Editor