Free U2 album angers Apple users

Significant backlash to Apple’s experiment

By Joe Zylka, Staff Writer
By Joe Zylka, News Editor

There’s no question that smartphones have become a staple in society. Each day, more and more Americans have the ability to update statuses, play games and schedule appointments on the go from the palm of their hand.

Two in every five American adults who own a smartphone own an iPhone, according to the NPD Group, and organization that provides market data. Many Americans were surprised and angry on Sept. 9 when they found a U2 album sitting in their phone’s music library. At first, many people thought it was a practical joke, but after social media exploded about it later that day, iPhone owners realized this was no joke.

Turns out Apple and U2 planned this “free” album and the results could not have been more catastrophic for the tech giant. Apple and U2 have always had a close relationship, so Apple agreed to pay U2 upwards of $100 million to give away the album to its 500 million iTunes users around the world. It seemed like a great idea; however, no one anticipated this kind of backlash.

English writer Warren Ellis hit the nail on the head tweeting, “Apple owes me a new iPhone, because I had to purify this one with fire after finding a U2 album on it.”

While many iPhone users didn’t break out their f lamethrowers when they saw the album, they were still upset. Why? Simply put, Apple did it without permission. Like taking candy from a baby, Apple dropped this album into iTunes accounts without permission, and infuriated users.

What made people most angry, however, was the fact that because the album was automatically downloaded and took up storage space on Apple devices. Why is that a big deal? Well, imagine one had a bag full of groceries at the store, almost too heavy to hold, and the store plops a free bag of moldy potatoes on top of it. The bag breaks because of the new item and all items in the bags spill everywhere. It’s the same concept with Apple’s storage system. Often times, people have hundreds of songs, pictures, messages and apps that use up the storage on their device, so when U2’s album was automatically dropped into their music libraries, it used up coveted storage space.

If one wants to get rid of the album from their device, there are several options. One can swipe to the left when viewing the album’s playlist and a “delete” button will appear on the track. One could also go to the Music section in the Settings application and turn off “show all music.” That makes it so the phone will only show music that has been downloaded to the device.

Not all responses were negative to the automatic download though. Users downloaded over 2 million copies of the album when it first appeared, and U2’s exposure went through the roof. They had 26 albums crack the iTunes Top 200 album chart after the stunt. By comparison, U2 had a grand total of zero albums in the Top 200 before the release.

Many wonder if Apple has set a new precedent with this surprise album. Some argue it is a great idea in order for an artist/band to become popular. Many disagree. Next time, Apple should make a “free” album optional. The last thing people want on their phones is a free album put there without their knowledge or consent.