How to FAIL at Screwing Over Your Competition

Amazon had a brilliant ploy to royally screw iTunes: offer Lady Gaga’s new album on the Amazon MP3 site for the astonishingly low price of $0.99, and throw in a bonus storage space allowance on its new “Cloud” service. This would draw people away from iTunes, show them how easy Amazon’s MP3 purchase process was, and potentially hook them on the fancy new “Cloud” option.

The only problem? They MASSIVELY underestimated how much interest it would spark, and completely botched the execution.

I’m a perfect example of someone that Amazon could have really “wowed” yesterday. I bought the album for less than the price of one of its songs on iTunes, which was certainly appealing. Yes, I had to go through a little bit of hassle to install Amazon’s MP3 Downloader utility, but it only took a minute or two, and it even seamlessly imports the downloaded songs into iTunes for you.

When the downloads actually WORK, that is. Which they mostly didn’t. My first attempt at downloading my newly purchase album resulted in a net of TWO songs out of the entire album of fourteen songs, and it took over an hour for that much to work. I was finally given the opportunity to retry downloading, which yielded me a couple of more songs (but still less than half the album, after more than two hours of trying.)

By the end of the day, I’d successfully downloaded 12 out of 14 songs, after many retries and curses. This morning I tried to grab the final two songs (including, as luck would have it, THE TITLE TRACK, but I got an error message saying too much time had passed since the downloads started, and I needed to call customer service for assistance.

And it seems this isn’t a unique problem — the Internet is abuzz with people complaining about the poor service, even at the measly price of a dollar for the album.

Way to go, Amazon. You could have lured all kinds of customers over away from Amazon with your momentary loss on this album, but kept them hooked for countless future purchases. Instead, you just reminded me of everything iTunes offers that you do not: quick, easy, seamless, painless download of the music I want. I’m even LESS likely to try to buy music from you than I was before you offered me the steep discount on yesterday’s purchase.

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