On Monday I came across a post at Techdirt about the reaction to Apple putting a U2 album in iCloud users’ storage space. The post described how after a backlash, Apple created a bit of code that would allow iPhone users to delete the unwanted freebie.
A bit of background: On September 9th, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the mega-band U2 decided to release its latest album free on iTunes.
U2 surprised the world today by releasing Songs of Innocence, their first album in five years, as a gift from Apple, available for free immediately to anyone with iTunes. The band made the announcement with Apple CEO Tim Cook at a Cupertino press conference for the new iPhone 6, capping the event with a performance of the album’s first single, “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone).”
A free gift might not be a “gift” at all for people who never asked for or wanted (or knew about) this promo but suddenly found the band’s album in their iTunes cloud account. After I read the Techdirt item, I promptly loaded the “music” app on my iPhone and scrolled through the albums, and voilá, Songs of Innocence appeared with the little iCloud icon beside it, indicating that it was available for me to download. As Techdirt put it,
The problem wasn’t that the album was free, but that the album appeared unbidden in the repository for a service that feels quite personal to the consumer. These were our cloud accounts that Apple invaded to leave their free stuff. You know what it’s called when someone leaves you something you didn’t want for free in your domain? It’s called litter. And, in this case, it was litter that you couldn’t even clean up.
So in response to the backlash, Apple wrote code to enable its customers to delete the “gift,” which, until that happened, was unremovable, though you could hide it.
I look at Facebook briefly once or twice a day (if that), just to see what my family or friends might have posted, and I rarely post anything myself other than an occasional comment on someone else’s post. But I posted an item about the Apple/U2 unwanted album, and was a bit surprised by the reaction.
My daughter’s (age 45) first comment was,
Oh the crime! A free album! So terrible!
When I pointed out that it was “my” iCloud space and I felt “invaded” by this unwanted deposit, a techie friend (former co-worker, in his 30s) chimed in,
It’s not your cloud space. It’s on iTunes server. If you want it, go claim it, if not then don’t. At best, it’s like having a receipt for something someone else bought you. It’s not in your space. It’s not taking up any space, it’s just a link to download it. That’s all. They gave you a link to download it if you want. (and a way to delete the link if you don’t want to see it.) I’m just trying to remain factually accurate here.
My daughter, again,
To me this iCloud thing is like getting one of the many free apps that come with the iPhone. The difference is that is already on my phone when I buy it and very often there is no way to delete it off the device, even if I don’t want it. This album at least I had the option. I don’t care if it was in my purchased list – it was free. And since I share an iTunes account with my husband and kids, there are lots of things in my purchased list that I don’t like/want. I don’t have to download them so no worries here! And I love U2 so of course I downloaded it
The reason for including the foregoing extended conversation is to ask a question of the assembled “dinerzens” this morning. Is my unhappiness at this “free gift” and my feeling of having my personal space and privacy infringed a generational thing? My mid-40s daughter and my mid-30s former co-worker didn’t seem to see any problem at all. Would this bother you? Or am I just an old(er) woman out in her yard yelling at iClouds? Opinions welcome!