Achtung freebie: U2 album gives the internet another reason to hate iTunes

Apple stuck in unforgettable mire

Apple scored one of the most amazing internet publicity own goals this week, somehow managing to make a laughing stock of itself by giving something away from free.

The free thing was the new U2 album. In these cynical times the ageing rock band is not seen as particularly fashionable. Bono is not as lauded as fellow old men Mick Jagger or David Bowie, it seems. Maybe he needs to go away for a couple of decades and get older and greyer and more statesmanlike?

But who's the most out of touch here? Is it the Apple executives who think U2 is a cutting-edge band the kids like? Or is it us, the self-aware internet people, who don't understand that we're not the audience this promotion is aimed at?

After all, iPhone has become the generic term for mobile telephone among our parents, and wouldn't mum actually like a free album from that Bono man? And besides, how often do people in their 50s and 60s have to delete pre-loaded young people's music? Every single time they buy a new thing, we suspect.

"Not another bloody Arcade Fire viral video teaser," your dad probably said, last week, deleting it from some execrable £59.99 tablet he bought in Argos. But he's not on Twitter so his annoyance went unreported.

Please delete me, set me free

Outrage over Apple's forced insertion of the U2 album into the carefully curated musical collections of the world led to a weird series of "how to" guides appearing, with plenty of tech sites running features along the lines of MacWorld's explainer covering how to get it off your phone.

Reader Jong summarised the confusion felt by many, especially in the wake of the so-called iCloud hacking nightmare, saying: "I don't like it! I thought my iPad was hacked or something like that. Some of those songs are still there in the playlist even after switching 'Show All Music' to Off. It's so ANNOYING!"

Steve Bitzel is also reconsidering his technical allegiances following Apple's move, saying: "This is the first time Apple has done something that I can't stand on my iPhone. I don't have music on my phone since I use Pandora or Stitcher to stream whatever I want to listen to, but my car picked up on the songs being available and automatically tried to play them. I don't like when companies try making decisions for me."

Poor old Bono will be in tears reading the simple advice from Stephen, who explained: "Restore your iPhone when connected to iTunes from inside your computer and don't forget to back-up all your data. This takes a little longer but I successfully removed that U2 album."

Perhaps that's why he always wears the sunglasses. So we can't see him crying at how much the world hates his band.

Money, money, money

Some explanation as to why U2 were chosen for the global pimp-out was offered over at Deadspin, where reader Jagorim Jarg commented: "They don't give a XXXX what the under 40 crowd thinks. This is squarely aimed at the 40+ crowd that was into U2 at their peak (Rattle/Hum, Joshua Tree era). That age group has the money to buy Apple products and is probably consuming less music now. This free album gets them to open up iTunes again and maybe start buying more music again."

Which is good, as long as they're not only opening up iTunes to delete it in a rage.

Reader CaptainHomeless is also not feeling the love for U2's 123rd studio album or Apple's battering ram approach to marketing, posting: "There are so many good reasons not to use iTunes, but 'foisting sh#t you didn't ask for on you' is pretty high up there."

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