Saturday, May 24, 2008

Steve Jobs Is Not Quite Omnipotent Yet

I love my iPod. My little 30GB friend has about 3,700 songs, most of which I moved from my own CD collection. Many more I got from ransacking my friends' CDs and I've even bought about 500 from the iTunes Music Store.

I think the iTunes Store is fabulous. When the worship team at church plays songs I like I've usually been able to find versions of them there, like Blessed Be Your Name and Revelation Song. When I wanted to flesh out my New Wave collection earlier this year, I was able to find gems from Altered Images and Visage. And the Listeners Also Bought list has helped me "discover" indie bands like Bloc Party, Camera Obscura and Arctic Monkeys that I never would have known about otherwise.

That's not to say the iTunes Store is perfect. As much as I've gotten from it, the things I HAVEN'T been able to get just drive me absolutely nuts. Here's three in order of likely relevance to the rest of the world.

For one, there's no Beatles music. Supposedly this stems from some copyright issue between the two Apples -- the one that makes iPods and the Beatles' record label. Talk about a case of "Fine -- if I don't get my way I'll just take my bat and ball and go home." And as always, its the customers who suffer while the two corporate entities slug it out.

The copyright thing was resolved last year, and despite persistent rumors that the Beatles catalog is coming to iTunes there hasn't been anything official yet. Seriously, are neither of you profitable enough to budge on whatever the remaining sticking points are here? Somehow I've still managed to get 48 Beatles tracks on my iPod, more than any other artist even though I don't really consider them my favorite band. But many thanks to Apple & Apple for making it a pain in the butt.

Two, you can't get the classic 1984 famine relief song Do They Know It's Christmas? unless you spend $16.99 on a compilation album with 17 other Christmas songs. There was some issue with iTunes over the re-recording of that song in 2004 by Band Aid 20 that eventually got resolved, but I haven't been able to find any explanation for this bundling. It reminds me of when David Beckham signed with the L.A. Galaxy, and the Colorado Rapids would only sell tickets to the Galaxy game as part of a package with tickets to other games that people didn't care about as much. Forcing people to buy stuff they don't want to get something they do is somehow supposed to be good for business?

Editor's Note: I went to that Rapids-Galaxy game wearing my authentic Beckham ManU jersey, even though Beckham himself didn't make the trip because of his ankle injury. The Rapids won 3-0 and my son, Zak, had a good time. And no, I didn't buy the package with the other games. :P

It's entirely possible that nobody but me cares about this last one. China by Red Rockers is a PHENOMENAL New Wave song. The video is vintage early '80s from the haircuts to the clothes to the "dance moves." Tragically, this too is unavailable even though Red Rockers are apparently still alive and kicking in some incarnation.

I realize these may be a little nit-picky. But after years and years of being the scrappy underdog Apple's turned into a bit of an 800-pound gorilla in their own right. With that territory comes increased expectations and increased criticism when those expectations aren't met.

Maybe Steve Jobs should call Bill Gates for his perspective on what it feels like.

No comments: