U2 have pulled off one mean little publicity stunt this week by releasing their new album to every iTunes user on the planet: all 500 million of them.
And not everybody is happy about it:
having U2's album preloaded on itunes is the billionaire equivalent of leaving a flaming turd on your doorstep
— VodkaMom (@swarthyvillain) September 10, 2014
Just found the new U2 album in my iTunes library and now I understand the scene in The Godfather when dude finds a horse head in his bed.
— Anne T. Donahue (@annetdonahue) September 12, 2014
The idea was that this was supposed to be a free gift to every iTunes user, to co-incide with the release of the iPhone 6. It was a cross-marketing exercise of epic proportions. U2 stand to receive heaps of free publicity for this, Apple have lost (at the time of writing) $100 million on this venture.
And despite selling over 150 million records worldwide, Twitter was ablaze of people who had still never heard of the band:
Who tf is U2 and why is it on my phone ?
— angel (@AngelNoHaloo) September 11, 2014
Of course, this sort of thing has got people very worried for their online privacy:
If Apple can forcefully download a U2 album into everyone's iTunes library IMAGINE WHAT ELSE THEY CAN DO
— Jenn McAllister (@jennxpenn) September 12, 2014
And to be fair, who could blame them? Because despite the fact that cloud storage is a reality for many smart phone users, they still don't know how it works or what the safety implications of it are. For example, all your storage is kept in the trust of a third party who you have no direct contact with. You don't know if they're trustworthy or not. You don't know exactly who could be looking at your data that is stored remotely somewhere else in the world.
Also, many people don't know how to configure their phone correctly. Most of the complaints are because they have automatic downloads enabled, and so if the user was oblivious to the news of a free album, they would have had a nice (or nasty, depending on your taste) little surprise in your iTunes folder.
Personally, I don't own an iPhone, so I won't be getting the free record. I generally think that the last decent record U2 released was in 1988 ("Rattle and Hum") so I don't have much of a desire to listen to this new one. I could be proven wrong of course, and this album could be the best thing they have ever done.
Time will tell...