Someone at Apple must be listening!
The company offered every iTunes user (let’s call that half a billion people) a free copy of U2’s latest album.
Largesse, swag, booty, a tchotchke, call it what you will.
U2’s Songs of Innocence was a global freebie annnounced at Apple Live 2014, Apple’s annual product launch extravaganza.
In fact, getting the free album turned out to be an offer so good that you simply couldn’t refuse.
And when I say that, I’m not being metaphorical.
You literally couldn’t refuse, because the product was automatically clocked up as one of your iTunes purchases and downloaded to your device.
By default (unless you had turned on an iTunes feature called Automatic Downloads), the actual music data itself wasn’t pushed to your iPhone.
But the album and its track list arrived automatically:
Strictly speaking, clicking to listen to a song for the first time meant clicking to download-and-listen, but that’s a somewhat pedantic distinction, almost like the difference between double-clicking and single-clicking to open an email attachment.
Opinions were strongly divided.
One Naked Security reader told us:
Hey, it's a gift so stop the ridiculous fussing. If you don't want it just don't download it. OK? My goodness all these desperate, angst-inspiring First World problems.
Another took the middle ground:
The problem is Apple seem to have such brand power over their customers that arrogance is creeping into their marketing.
Still, as others have pointed out, at least it wasn't Justin Bieber.
But one commenter wondered aloud, “Where does this sort of stunt end?”
Today it's the next U2 album. Tomorrow it's a piece of propaganda on your Kindle. The next day it's an app so Big Brother can watch you.
The album certainly wasn’t opt-in, because it turned up without even asking you.
But there were all sorts of problems that meant it wasn’t even really opt-out, either.
For example, you could left-swipe on each song to reveal a button labelled Delete.
Except that you had to listen to the song first.
You could hide the album in iTunes, so you'd still own it, and still be a statistic in the biggest album release ever; you just wouldn't see the album (or end up with it in some randomly chosen playlist).
You couldn't, it seems, disown, unbuy or depurchase it.
Apple has listened, and come up with a free Album Removal Tool, though this part isn't automatic: you have to opt in to opting out:
In fact, if you remove the album now, then from 13 October 2014 onwards, you really will be able to purchase it.
Bono would approve; after all, he told TIME Magazine that he “[doesn’t] believe in free music.”
23 comments on “Apple relents, lets you “depurchase” that U2 album you never bought in the first place”
After all this, I’m actually interested in seeing how the obviously forthcoming album “Songs of Experience” sounds….
“Break this heavy PR chain,
That does freeze my bones around!
That free songs with bondage bound.”
You just found
What you weren’t looking for.
Let’s hope Apple learns from this lesson in arrogance and creepiness.
How do I get rid of the other songs that were dumped in my music app? There’s like a dozen of them in there and I don’t want any of them
Sorry but U2 are shockingly bad. I haven’t liked any track that they have ever made… If I did have an iTunes account, I would have cancelled it after this fiasco.
Let’s set aside the discussion about the mandatory free purchase of the album for a moment.
Reread the way Apple worded the removal terms. Once you remove the music you got for free, if you change your mind and decide you do want the album, you’ll have to actually pay for it, and wait until after October 13, 2014 to do so.
Seems like quite an incentive to nudge people who opposed the manner they received the album in the first place to capitulate into keeping it after all. Thus keeping it recorded as a purchase and increasing the number of albums “sold”.
There’s always a “Catch 22”, isn’t there?
The “Catch” is that’s when the CD is released to the public… and I deleted mine.
While it’s nice to see that Apple listened, I still think this is an example of people severely overreacting. It isn’t like they pushed a piece of executable code down to people.
The previous commenter that expressed worry about propaganda or an app needs to look at the distinction and be a little less paranoid if you ask me. Even propaganda, if it’s a book, is still no more harmful than anything posted on a popular website or aired on television. Much like a free music album, it doesn’t actually do anything by itself. An app, being a different animal, requires a bit of a different mindset to push on people. Even then, if it’s pushed by a company like Apple, Amazon, or Google, odds are it would be an app either created by that company or tested to ensure reasonable safety.
In other words, I think people need to lighten up. This truly is a very minor “first world problem.”
Thing is, you own it. You “purchased” it. When something airs on TV, that’s called a broadcast. You can listen, or not, and if you do, your act of listening doesn’t mean as much as apparently making an informed decision to *buy* something and load it into your list of music/books/apps.
That’s the thing: it wasn’t “published on a website” where you could say, “I’ll have some of that!”…or not.
Say what you will, but nobody makes you listen to it. You can still choose whether or not you want to.
People just want to have something to complain about. They aren’t happy otherwise.
Hey! I resemble your remarks! I was happy before the album dropped, and I am happy now, but I was slightly happier *before*.
“It isn’t like they pushed a piece of executable code down to people.”… really, are you sure? If it’s that easy to do why not just ask to see who really wants it? I use an iPhone for work only, I do now want anything on that device that isn’t work related. As far as being “paranoid” is concerned, that’s what my company pays me for, my job is is Information Security, so you might say being paranoid pays the bills and “tries” to keep the systems malware free.
I have to believe that there was at least ONE person at Apple who thought this was a bad idea, no matter how well intentioned. I hope you enjoy your U2 CD.
I think an mp3 *is* and executable code.
Am I the only person in the world who is tired of the phrase “First World Problem”?
No. I am too.
Isn’t Africa in general, and Tanzania more specifically, the “first world” anyway? Olduvai Gorge and all that?
The developing world may have extra problems that are no longer so bad in the developed world, for example due to having less money to spend on countering them. TB, malaria and malnourishment spring to mind.
But it’s rarely true the other way around. If issues such as computer security, eroding privacy or manipulative marketing are “first world problems,” all that really means to me is that they’re more visible in the developed world right now, and admittedly perhaps more prevalent. (Ceteris paribus, you get more credit card fraud per capita in countries where there are more credit cards per capita, by simple arithmetic.)
And if they are less prevalent in the developing world then isn’t that an opportunity to keep it that way?
Would you say, for instance, that malware such as ransomware and bots is not really worth worrying about in (pick name of not-very-wealthy country – Zambia, say) because, hey, most people can’t afford computers anyway so they’ve got less to lose overall? That’s sort of like saying that a TB sufferer in (pick name of wealthy country – Denmark, say) can be ignored, because, hey, so few people get that disease in Western Europe any more.
I’m also tired of so many people using it in relation to this album’s release through apple devices – it’s like they’re all parrot’s or something.
And anyway, if people were never to complain about ‘first world problems’, we’d never complain about anything. Are people meant to just shut up if a company does something they’re not happy about, just because it’s a ‘first world problem’?
If a restaurant brings the wrong order, would these same people say ‘shut up and eat it, it’s a first world problem’?
What about if an internet provider failed to deliver internet for two months? Should no one complain, because it’s a first world problem?
Not a minor issue…they pushed this out to all my CHILDREN’S devices. Sorry Apple, but I get to pick what they listen to, not you, that’s what the password is for. Even free app downloads require the password. This one didn’t. That’s wrong. Pushing a book out to every Kindle app would be the same problem. Just because Apple might think my children should read something too does’t mean they should.
I didn’t get it, but when I looked for it, iTunes wanted my credit card detals!
You weren’t on “iTvnes” or “iTuunes” by mistake, were you 🙂
I’m wondering a little thing here not mentioned. Sure they give you the option to unbuy it now and have it deleted..BUT !! big but. Are they going to remove those who remove/unbuy it from their ‘Figures’.
Otherwise its seems like they would still have the biggest so called album in history due to the amount of people who had it, when 99% of them may deBuy it.
Since 1977 (being in the UK) I don’ worry where something is in the charts any more as it’s all a bit of a fix anyway. Oldies like me will remember the Sex Pistols – God Save The Queen. It outsold Rod Stewart by miles. Somehow some charts had Pistols at number 2..like huh? and other charts literally had no No1 that week. I buy my music because ‘I’ actually want it regardless of how hyped it is.
If Apple include everyone that got the album as ‘sales’ but doesn’t then deduct them when people unbuy the album whatever chart position it gets is still a con.
Fortunately Apple is not in the sex toy business… imagine they would send you some of their most shocking gears and it would appear as if you actually bought it. 😉
This is the Apple equivalent of a double-glazing salesman shoving branded literature through your door, and as such must surely be an invasion of privacy.