Category: Software

Alienating Customers

If you run a business and are looking to alienate your customers, just do exactly what the music industry does. You can’t fail with this method. More information about Sony BMG’s XCP was released today as several security firms confirmed that some Sony CD’s installed rootkit malware on users computers.

The software installs itself without the user’s knowledge and continues to run invisibly in the background. In addition, it creates vulnerabilities to viruses that may not be detectable by anti-virus programs and provides no means for uninstallation without disabling the CD-ROM drive or crippling the system if the rootkit files are manually deleted. The EFF explains what CD’s are infected and what to do.

Sony BMG claims the “software” is designed to prevent illegal ripping and distribution of its songs, but several analysts suggest that Sony is reeling from the decline of the DiscMan and the rise of the iPod. If you can’t rip a CD, you can’t play it on your iPod. The unbelievable anti-consumerism of the music industry infuriates me. If, as you claim—and I don’t believe—your sales are down, you should improve your product and put a priority on great customer service. You don’t, as the music industry has repeatedly done, sue your customers, lie to them, limit their listening habits, refuse to offer music in new mediums, hack into their computers, or install dangerous software.

Winamp to iTunes

When I find software that does what it should without getting in my way, I tend to remain faithful. For several millennia—or seven years in Internet Time—I’ve used Winamp as my primary music player on my computer. The free version did everything I needed it to do without trying to “help” me do things I didn’t need or want; yes, I’m looking at you, Windows Media Player.

The simple fact is that iTunes works very well. Its organization and playlist capabilities are simple and elegant; I can’t say that for Winamp and WMP is just abysmal. I hesitated letting iTunes organize my music files because I had carefully categorized my files by genre before I concluded that it would be easier than trying to determine if a song should go in the “Rock” folder or the “Alternative” folder or if new Aerosmith is still considered “Classic Rock.”

Say what you will about the iPod’s irreplaceable battery or the Nano’s screen, but Apple did a fantastic job with iTunes, the best music management software I’ve ever seen. I’m switching.