Along with pretty much everybody else, I watched the latest Apple…what do they call these extravaganzas again? Annunciations? You know, the big spiels where a markedly less piss-scared Tim Cook waxes rhapsodic on the latest versions of Appledom’s finest gadgets that we all will be buying as soon as Jonny Ive can figure out how to make ’em stop bending? Where was I?
Oh yeah, so I watched with amused and fairly avaricious eyes as they genuflected at the feet of the iPhone 6.
I can’t say the same for the Apple Watch, but only because I never wear watches. If I did, I’d buy one yesterday. It seems to present some very nifty features, and their dorky look is several times less dorky than that of Google/Samsung/Android/Whoever The Hell They Are.
And Apple Pay is very exciting, because I was running out of things to do with my phone. But of course that wasn’t enough for this…damn it, what do they call these things? Proclamations? Benedictions? Where was I?
Tim Cook, apparently still smarting from invidious comparisons to St. Jobs (St. is short for Steve, of course), trotted out to my count not One, but Two More Things. The First More Thing was the watch, or Watch. And the Second More Thing seemed to be none other than Bono, The Edge, and the other two Irish guys, in the flesh.
That’s right, U2 (or as I like to think of them Yourself As Well), who strode on stage to the frenzied delight of screaming tech nerds, and delivered a new song; apparently a tribute to Joey Ramone, which is a very cool thing.
I have to say, not being the biggest fan of the Irish foursome, that they still push it hard, and the song sounded very much like, well, what a U2 fan would want to hear. Admirable qualities in guys nearly as old as I am.
But as it turned out, U2’s stage appearance wasn’t actually the Other More Thing. For Tim Cook proceeded to have an awkward, technologically-flawed conversation with an awkward, technologically-flawed Bono.
Apple had the ginchiest idea: what about taking the new U2 “album” (which is the latest tech terminology for a folder of mp3 files) and…wait for it…giving it to everyone with iTunes?! For free! That’s big, that’s huge, that’s….Bonormous!
The figure 500,000,000 kept being bruited about (as in the amount of people in the world who have iTunes). The Cookster was referring to this epic moment as the largest album release in history, which I suppose is accurate in its way. Then — in an image that unfortunately will be seared into the memory banks of viewers, and thus harder to delete than a U2 song folder in iTunes — Tim and Bono touched fingertips to signify that at that very moment we lucky 500,000,000 had been given the new U2 folder. Album.
Okay, as far as cyber-era facts go it is kind of mind-boggling. And I hate to be a party poop (you know that’s true), but….
The schmuck from Czechoslovakia who spams you constantly about the joys of adult male circumcision? He is annoying 500,000,000 other people throughout the globe…at that very moment!
My Wikipedia entry? It’s available on 1,000,000,000,000 computers, tablets, and smartphones at this very moment! When I edited the page, to remove the spurious data that I was Bulgarian and had a third nipple, the correction took place on all 1,000,000,000,000 devices immediately!
When someone uploads to YouTube a clip of Laura Ingraham snottily demanding that the rest of us stop what we’re playing at and become Christians like her so the world will work better, 2,000,000,000,000 people across the world are afforded a new and improved method to self-induce vomiting at the same exact time!
Globally-synchronized puking: now that’s 21st Century stuff right there.
My point is, whereas I doubt not the boys in U2 are sincerely grateful their new music is being provided to, well, pretty much everyone, I chafe at this being equated to an album release, or any comparison between this and unit sales or ownership.
You may think that sounds far-fetched, but when Jay Hyphen Z made that deal with Samsung, where they were providing his new “album” free and exclusive to their smartphone customers, Mr. Hyphen Z had the chutzpah to complain that those smartphone purchases should show up in Soundscan’s sales figures, as in “Hyphen Z’s latest joint was the number one selling album this week, narrowly beating out the kitty-and-puppy-bonding video someone sent to all of our email boxes.”
If one has the new U2 album whether one wants to or not the figures — even 5 hundred mil — aren’t all that significant.
Immediate distribution is indeed a fact of life in Cloud world. But whereas the boys from Dublin/Belfast/County Cork/Killarney/The Quiet Man/I Don’t Know Ask A Fan might enthuse giddily about their latest offering showing up on my iPad, iPhone, and Macbook, I respectfully remind them that the flyer for Gino’s Pizza Palazzo shoved under my front door as well as everyone else’s in the neighborhood wasn’t asked for either.
And if an automatic placement of product on our devices can be interpreted as anything approaching conscious and purposeful ownership, then I Want To Hold Your Hand wasn’t the number one song in America in February 1964: Mad Magazine’s flimsy plastic giveaway, It’s A Gas, was.