It’s fair to say that U2’s surprise free album release onto any device running iCloud has received a mixed reaction from consumers. Thousands of surprised Apple consumers have been shuffling through their journey to work playlist and found that there are a few tracks they’d never heard before turning up in their headphones. “Songs of Innocence” is the title of U2’s latest album and it’s what you’ve all been hearing over the last couple of days. Whether you’re a fan of the Irish rock band or not, how exactly have these tracks managed to infest your beautifully put together playlists?
It’s quite clear that the album hasn’t relied on user permission, with thousands of people venting their frustration at a surprise batch of U2 tracks appearing on their devices without their consent. It turns out that it has a lot to do with Apple’s latest product launch for their iPhone 6 Plus, iPhone 6 and Apple Watch devices. Described by Apple CEO Tim Cook as the “biggest album launch of all time”, Apple paid an astounding $100 million to assist the album release alongside the members of U2 on stage.
Unfortunately, it hasn’t quite worked as well as U2 may have expected, with many iPhone users complaining about an invasion of privacy and comparing the digital album release to a security concern. A good way of looking at it is to consider how Bono and his fellow band mates have analysed the potential of the iCloud. They’ve obviously seen that a major product release such as the iPhone 6 and Apple Watch accompanied by a free release of their album could be a huge success. Unfortunately, it’s the younger generations that make the most of these tools.
Apple couldn’t have picked a worse time to test the security anxieties of their consumers, as the iCloud has been the centre of a major controversy surrounding leaked celebrity photos in recent weeks. What this told everyone was that the iCloud couldn’t yet be trusted and it probably didn’t have the security protocols in force that could protect personal files and information. However, the U2 album release has shown that the iCloud is available for any music artist that wants to force feed consumers with their music.
What seems surprising to experts as well as consumers is the route Apple seems to be going down with this digital album release. Many people have sought after Apple’s devices and online services as they tend to offer an exclusive set of applications and subsequently neglect filling up the Appstore with software from third-parties. Whilst it seems quite tempting to get third-part vendors onboard, Apple’s exclusive stance has attracted a huge amount of consumers in the past, so are they taking a backwards step with this latest development?
It might not be a great Apple experience for us but that doesn’t mean it won’t have some kind of positive affect for the company themselves. It’s fair to say that another U2 album release probably wouldn’t have attracted anywhere near as much attention as it has done over the last week or so if it had been released any other way. U2 will certainly be satisfied with this marketing coup, despite the relentless levels of criticism they’ll be getting on Twitter until everyone’s discovered they’ve had their musical collection plagued with Songs of innocence.
Hang on, Apple paid how much for the album release? Well it’s fair to say we wouldn’t be quite as eager to part with said cash should we be offered the chance, but has it really had much of an effect on Apple? The short answer is No. We’re talking around $7.7 billion net profits and quarterly revenues of $37.4 billion, so it’s probably not much of a problem to them. They’ll also be particularly happy with its reception as well, with billboards and TV slots likely to feature some of Bono’s latest artistry in the weeks to come.
So how exactly have Apple users reacted to the automatic installation of U2’s latest album? A particularly notable tweet from Twitter user Owen Williams pretty much summarised how everybody was feeling. “Hi @tim_cook my iPhone has a virus called “U2” how do I uninstall it?” Along with a plethora of joke tweets, many users decided to focus on the security implications associated with the release. Some were concerned that Apple may be capable of viewing personal files and information at any time.
Some just can’t get enough of Songs of Innocence but its fair to say the vast majority of users would rather it not be part of their music collection. If you’re keen to get rid of the album, simply swipe to the left on each song and select “Delete”. Remember that you may not have it downloaded on your device at all, as the album appears in the Music App regardless of whether you’ve downloaded it or not. However, many people have the iPhone’s automatic download setting enabled. You can hide the album by logging in and clicking the cross at the top left-hand corner of the cover image. You can disable Automatic Downloads by heading to settings in the iTunes and App Store.
Mike James is a technophile and follows developments and news in the tech industry on behalf of Technology Means Business, TMB, an IT support provider based in Hampshire, Essex and Kent.