music

Browse Tag: music

Pandora, Windows Mobile and AT&T

Last week wrapped up with Pandora announcing the release of Windows Mobile client. Everybody cheered – but for less than a day. As it turned out, there’s always a fly in the ointment. The cost of fun is $8.99 per month in addition to any data plan you already have. Even if it’s an unlimited one, like mine.

Outraged just like anyone else, I immediately shot off an e-mail to Pandora’s support.

Hello,
I am a very dedicated Pandora listener. Aside from enjoying Pandora from my desktop I had encouraged a number of people to try Pandora for iPhone – every time with huge success.

Now, I myself is not an iPhone user – for number of reasons I cannot use iPhone for everyday tasks. It doesn’t mean I have extra money in my pocket, it just means that I use devices that benefit me the most.

When I have heard about the discriminatory policy that Windows mobile users must she’ll out extra money for same service everyone else enjoys for free I felt somewhat betrayed. Definitely upset. Outraged.

However, before jumping to any decisions, I’d like to hear from you the reasons behind such discrimination and, if there are any plans to rectify the situation.

Surprisingly, just a few hours later (that is – 3AM Friday night) I got a response.

Thanks for writing us, and thanks for recommending Pandora on the iPhone to your friends! We were very happy Apple allowed us to offer Pandora for free.

Getting a mobile device to support Pandora is, to a very large degree, up to our potential cellular and platform partners.

Currently there are four WinMo devices which, just like the iPhone, support Pandora for free (advertising-supported). Two on Sprint, and two on Verizon.

We’re very happy we were able to work with these partners to reach this agreement.

It’s up to other carriers how to set the pricing and availability of our service on their network and associated devices.

Best wishes,
–Ian
Pandora Listener Support

If all the above is true it means that AT&T effectively taxing everyone who’s not an iPhone user for using data plan they already paying for. Why this is happening – because AT&T thinks they’ve got it all and can get away with anything they want or because of some other reason – I don’t know. There’s a thread on AT&T’s forums, but no official response has been issued yet.

Pandora’s blog has it this way (in response to comments of disappointed users):

…we share your desire to see Pandora be made available for free on our AT&T implementations. In the mobile world, the carrier has all of the pricing power. If you try to go around their wishes they can, and will, block traffic to your application. Our strong preference is for Pandora to be available ad-supported free everywhere and we’ll continue to work with AT&T in the hopes that they’ll come around to the same view for the Windows Mobile phones on their network.

On the other hand, the Pandora application is available from PPCGeeks forum. I swapped SIM card from AT&T Tilt into Samsung Blackjack and testing the app right now. So far the quality is decent (close to FM radio) (as I am sitting home within stable 3G zone) and delay between songs (while the buffering occurs) is acceptable.

In any case, there remains less and less competition in mobile markets and providers are pulling all sorts of unfair deals knowing that customers will either eat it or not, but there’s really no serious alternative between AT&T and Verizon (Sprint and T-Mobile are really not in the same field).

What is it that I want

While moving tons of my ex-IT stuff from old apartment to new (and losing some ISA network cards on the way) I realized what is it that I ultimately need while most of my stuff is unavailable (like when I am moving, traveling, vacationing and so on). So think of this as of unofficial wish list:

  • PDA/cell phone. Not a smartphone, it’s a poor excuse at being a decent organizer having a screen size of a matchbox and no keyboard. Something like an iPhone, but runs Windows Mobile and doesn’t look like a proletariat’s weapon of choice. With hundreds of software titles already available, seamless sync with Outlook and (again!) large screen size, so I can actually read documents/books/emails without hurting my eyes, watch stand-up shows or documentaries in the gym or on the road such device would win me over any fancy useless gadget. Oh, and add regular headphones jack (instead of smaller non-compatible one) and no-cradle sync/recharge cable for easy packing to that.
  • Small cheap laptop. I currently own IBM/Lenovo T60p, T42 and T40p. None of them qualifies neither as cheap nor as small. Something with screen size of 10 – 12 inches (1024×768), solid-state disk and price tag below $600 – $700 with decent battery life (at least 4 – 5 hours) should suffice. Every time some teenager or poor old lady entering backwards into subway car smashes into my backpack with my $3000 T60p with two hard drives in it, or my car hits the bump on the road, or airport security kicks a basket with my laptop out of scanner – I think of solid-state disks and cheap (read – replaceable without busting my budget) laptop.
  • Personal Media Player with removable storage. It’s amazing to see all those gazillion-gigabyte iPods, Zens, Zunes, iRivers and other misspelled words to try to host all owner’s music collection in a single place to make it easier to loose all in one take. I owned Creative Zen 20GB – thrown away as their web site is total mess and no drivers I downloaded would work with my player after attempt to hook it up to a new PC; had Toshiba Gigabeat 30GB – stolen, but I didn’t like it anyway – their sync software tries to act as DRM-police and extremely slow, player just won’t play directly uploaded mp3 files, sync via cradle didn’t work as expected plus none of my girlfriends in the passenger seat could figure out how to navigate “that cross thingy”. So all I want for now is a media player that will accept SD or Flash (or both) cards of any denomination and just play whatever is on them. With simple buttons like Play, Stop, Skip, Rewind not arranged in a puzzle or some other cryptic combination.

Re-read all of the above. Why do I need office, again?

Yahoo holds its ground

Last week I subscribed to Yahoo music. Yeah, I know. But I was going to give it a try anyway.

Surely, the service sucked from the very beginning – you have to download a special player (called Yahoo Jukebox), that downloads tons of crap while playing my purchased music. This itself is a very fishy concept – why would company force me to view ads while I enjoy a content I paid for. If the music was free – I would have understood the ads. But I already paid for this – why do you have to feed me all those stupid ads full-screen at 1600×1200 pixels resolution, if I only want to hear music – is totally beyond me. Of course, finding something useful (unless it’s a today’s MTV hit) is next to impossible.

But the real excitement begins when you are trying to cancel the account. Do you think you can cancel from JukeBox? Wrong, you can only upgrade. Do you think you can cancel from Yahoo Music Home page? Wrong again. In fact, the only way you can cancel the service is to go to My Account page, select Manage Premium Services, then Manage Service link next to Yahoo! Music Subscription, then Cancel Service. But you didn’t think it would be THAT easy, didn’t you? While following this narrow path to freedom you are asked for your password twice. Upon the clicking on Cancel Service link another screen appears that (legitimately) asks you for the reason of your cancellation – I selected “The service was difficult to use”. Then another screen apologetically offers to get online help or contact support. However, if you insist on cancelling – hey, we warned ya! – you need to enter your Yahoo password again (third time). Guess what happen then? Wrong, you need to enter your password again. And again. And again. And – it’s the infinite loop. You also cannot change the payment method, should this idea cross your mind.

I do realize that this might be some sort of glitch in software. I do realize Yahoo doesn’t really benefit from my 70 bucks that it is trying not to give me back so hard. But I do realize one important thing – if I trap the customer in a loop like that, I’ll probably loose more then just one customer. Guess what just happened to Yahoo?