Perhaps you heard the screams of outrage coming from your neighbors houses when they discovered U2 had unceremoniously invaded their iTunes. Reactions varied all along the spectrum between delighted and outraged, and whatever your feelings about it, the response was enough to extract an apology from Bono. We can’t help but wonder if there might have been a way for a more harmonious outcome.
Personally, I have never been a fan of U2’s music, but I did feel bad for Bono for all the same for all the anger that was funneled towards him. Should U2 have never even bothered giving the free music to everyone? Well there may have been something to be done between the “drop of megalomania” and the “dash of self-promotion”.
With a little data mining, Apple could have sent the album only to those who had purchased U2 or similar artists on iTunes in the past. We aren’t sure if they have the ability to track and collect data from their customers purchases, but we would find it hard to believe they don’t. Most likely, it was a conscious choice, made because they underestimated how passionate and particular people are about their music choices.
On the other hand, maybe it would be a little unnerving to discover you were delivered the mysterious album while your friends and neighbors did not. You might even worry you had been charged for the service or an unfriendly apparition with an affiliation for alternative rock had infiltrated your computer. Fear of ghosts aside, Apple is becoming more aware that their customers greatly take privacy into consideration when they are making their purchases, especially in a time when we are transitioning into a world where our identities are more accessible than ever before.
Never the less, there are ways to integrate seamlessness and there are ways not to. This instance is a good learning experience of what not to do. The “people don’t know what they want until we show it to them” attitude only works if you are introducing something new and innovative. This cannot apply to music, for it is too intuitive and too personal, and perhaps one of those things too sacred for assuming. The best option would be to only give the album to those who are most likely desiring it, and to give those select people a way of sharing the album with anyone they choose. That way, allowing the special treat, without taking away the autonomy of the consumer.