I'm just wondering if you happened to hear the news that U2 was part of the launch of Apple's latest iPhone? It is possible that this little news item might have slipped past you … if you've been living in a cave … in Afghanistan … hundreds of miles from any other living person.
Talk about over-hype overkill. U2 and Apple probably set a world record for the most oversold sequel in history.
I have to admit I wasn't unaffected, although I did not and will not run out to get a new iPhone, which was the point of the whole thing, right? Nope, no new iPhone for me.
I'm sure I'd love my iPhone if I had one. Everybody I know who has one loves it. I have read comments online from people who seemingly own an iPhone and have complaints about battery life or memory or whatever, but I have never heard anyone I know say a bad thing about their iPhone.
Like I said, I'm sure I would love my iPhone if I had one, but I don't and I won't own one. I don't have a good reason for not wanting an iPhone other than I've never really felt any affection for Apple. In fact, something about Apple – I'm not quite sure what it is – just doesn't set easy with me.
I suspect it's something to do with my deep-seated fear of 'cool' or my distaste for products which don't require herculean efforts to keep them running and which decide to fail/stop working at the most heart-breakingly, livelihood-crucially moments. How do Apple people endure all that certainty?
So I don't own any Apple products and, to be honest, I really hate iTunes. Maybe when iTunes comes preloaded on your iPhone or iPad it's fantastic, but I've downloaded it and installed it on many (Windows) PC's and I've always hated it. It just seems to eat my PC's RAM and it never stops sending out messages – to whom and for what purpose I couldn't say – even when I'm simply playing music off my own hard-drive.
It doesn't really bother me because I no longer have iTunes installed on my laptop. Well, it didn't bother me until last week.
I don't know what came over me. I didn't buy the last U2 album. I couldn't even tell you what it was called. In fact, I think it has been at least five years since I bought any music whatsoever, other than gifts for others. Yet, after reading a couple of articles about the new U2 album I suddenly had the idea that I'd like to listen to it, but you can't buy it yet. It is only available for free through Apple.
It wasn't hard to find. I searched for U2 “Songs of Innocence” and I was immediately taken to Apple's site, where the album is available. I clicked a few times on what I thought was a “play” button, but then I realized I needed iTunes to play it.
I wasn't surprised. I had already considered this possibility and accepted that I would have to install iTunes to listen to the album. I knew I'd hate myself for it, but I clicked “Install” and followed the steps to set up iTunes on my laptop.
That took a few minutes, but then I was ready. I had iTunes and I was ready to listen to the U2 album. I wasn't excited, more curious, but I was looking forward to hearing it.
I went back to the Apple site and clicked “Play” again and … no music. Nope, Apple wanted my “Apple ID,” which of course I don't have. I had not anticipated this, although I know I should have. After thinking about it briefly I decided I would go ahead and create my Apple ID.
However, it wasn't just a matter of choosing a user-name and giving my e-mail address. No siree. In addition to the usual hassle associated with registering with an online service I had to give them a credit card number, billing address and I don't know what else. I felt like I was being led into joining a book club I really didn't want to join.
That was it. When I saw that my interest in Bono's songs about his youth just vanished. I clicked “Cancel” and then began the annoying 'uninstall' process. It took around five minutes to install iTunes, but it took closer to 20 to uninstall it and all the other junk Apple loads onto your PC when you install iTunes. I was totally fed up by the time I finished. In fact, I hated myself just as I knew I would, only I didn't even get to hear any music so I hated myself even more.
The next day I read that many iPhone owners were none too happy that they'd ended up with a free copy of U2's album. And here I was hoping to listen to the album, but none too happy with what Apple wanted from me so that I could listen to it
“Songs of Innocence” is the name of the album, but when I read about the $100m deal and the unhappy iPhone owners and when I considered all that Apple wanted to know about me just to let me listen, it didn't seem all that innocent.
No, bring me back to the innocent days when you could walk into a used record store and buy a used U2 album for a couple of bucks and walk out. When I dropped “October” on a turntable no big company knew I was listening to it, knew my address or had my credit card number; they didn't know what I had been reading or my shopping patterns. It was just me listening to four guys from Dublin – so innocent.