McD’s Music Giveaway Disappointment

By on August 2, 2004

I rarely eat at McDonalds, but while on vacation last week our kids talked us into it as we drove across western Nebraska. My wife ordered a Big Mac, and unbeknownst to me, they had a Sony Connect promo going on where you get a free music download with every Big Mac. Cool!

Then I tried downloading it.

We’re sorry.

We know you are interested in using the Connect music store. Unfortunately SonicStage only works on Windows 98SE and above.

We have no immediate plans to support other operating systems at this time. However, we believe this is an important user base and we hope to support it in the future.

Thank you for your interest.

(Funny; I always thought that even Mac OS 9 was a few steps “above” Windows 98.)

So the short of it is that the whole Connect system is dependent on software that needs to be downloaded first. While this really isn’t that unusual — even Apple’s IMS works only with iTunes — Sony’s free SonicStage digital music software is Windows only. And I saw nothing that would indicate that a Mac version (much less a Linux version) is coming any time soon. Grrr!

This isn’t the first time I’ve had this happen; far from it. But when I think of the number of potential customers that Sony automatically wrote off as unworthy to use their service, it makes me scratch my head a bit. Why would they purposely do that?

Take Mac users as an example; in the last 12 months, Apple has sold around 3 million new computers. Add that to the installed base of existing Mac users — even just the ones that will run OS X — and you’re talking a huge pool of potential customers that Sony just slammed the door on.

Some will argue that even if you lump Mac and Linux users together they comprise just a small percentage of the number of Windows users out there, but if you also cosider the statistics that show Mac users tend to be more affluent than the average PC user, and have more disposable income to spend on things like downloadable music (that may not be true of me personally, but you’ve got to look at the averages!), it would make even more sense for Sony to open their service to Mac users. And if they made the effort to port it to OS X, it’d be just a short jump to get a Linux build out the door (or would it? I’m no programmer!)

No, I’m not bitter. Just a bit miffed. Their MP3’s probably had loud annoying screeching noises in the background anyway.



  1. I am always amazed by the conversation of MAC owners and the content of MAC periodicals; it seems that all they do is grumble about Windows systems. It seems to me that the solution is simple; if you can afford to by a MAC you can afford to buy 4 or 5 PC’s so why not buy both?

  2. I don’t see this as grumbling about Windows systems, just the stupidity of retailers who miss out on a significant market segment by ignoring Mac users. And if there is any topic in Mac periodicals that will bring any grumblings, it is that same thing.

    As for your suggestion of buying a PC to solve this problem, that’s not a solution at all. There is very little that a PC can do for me that my 6 year old OS 9 G3 can’t do, so it’s just not worth the hassle. And having a PC would be a big hassle.

    Oh, and by the way, MAC (all caps) refers to the Media Access Control Address on any network device’s NIC. See . When used as the short name for a Macintosh computer, you need only capitalize the first letter — Mac.

  3. “I don’t see this as grumbling about Windows systems, just the stupidity of retailers who miss out on a significant market segment by ignoring Mac users.”

    Not to play devil’s advocate here (I’m still planning to switch to a Mac after all), but with Mac usage numbers hovering somewhere around the 5% mark in the US, and 2% worldwide, I don’t think retailers see it as missing out on a significant market segment.

    I think you have to file OSX in the category of ‘alternative’ OS any more, since there are almost as many folks running desktop Linux as there are running OSX. I think it sucks that iTunes won’t run on my laptop, but I can hardly blame Apple for not considering my OS as being widely used enough to care about. And since Sony is trying to further their own (Windows-only) computing products, it gives them two reasons not to port the service.

    For programmers, the answer to the whole mess is writing your apps in well-chosen managed code, instead of fighting your way through the lower level C+ Windows API’s. As more applications move to managed code, supporting multiple platforms will increasingly become a non-issue. Unfortunately, DRM means that you want to have a psychotic level of control all the way down to the hardware to ensure that noone’s stealing your stuff, and that means that DRM will likely remain difficult to implement and prone to bugs.

  4. “managed code” is pretty much anything that runs in a VM or interpreter, and provides its own libraries for common functions, thereby seperating the app from the platform and minimizing tasks like resource and memory management. Java, C#, Python, Ruby, VBScript are all examples of managed code. (In the case of VBScript, though, the Windows interpreter is the only one available, as far as I know. )

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