Apple Sinks Over $100 Million Into A Free U2 Album That Nobody Wanted
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Hey, remember that time Apple thought people still gave a single steaming urinal biscuit about new U2 music in 2014?
Even if you weren't one of the scads of irate people who were threatening to yank Steve Jobs back from the spiritual plane for an ethereal punch to the solar plexus, waking up to find a U2 album stealthily downloaded onto your phone without preamble probably struck you as being exactly as generous as someone breaking into your house to leave you a new pet that you didn't ask for. ("Enjoy your new howler monkey!")
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Or worse, "Enjoy your new Bonobo!"
On the surface, teaming up with U2 to gratuitously distribute Songs Of Innocence -- the band's first new album in over five years -- appeared to be a great way for Apple to generate buzz for their iTunes service. After all, everyone loves free stuff! And U2 would get the benefit of introducing millions of people to their new music, resulting in a huge uptick in sales of the band's back catalog.
The thing is, people only love free stuff if the free stuff is something they at least halfway want. That's why so many mix tapes remain in the backpacks of their creators, as opposed to being eagerly accepted by people on their way into Jamba Juice. An embarrassingly tiny fraction of the 500 million users who received Songs Of Innocence gave a hammered grizzly shit about U2. That's a whole lot of wasted, animosity-generating megabytes. The even bigger problem was that for Apple, the album wasn't free at all; they had shelled out $100 million for marketing alone, plus an undisclosed amount to U2 that will no doubt have Bono swimming in douchebag sunglasses until the planet implodes.