I got a quickie espresso at Starbucks and they gave me a little card to download a song on the iTunes music store. The program is called “Pick of the Week.” You get a card with a redemption code for iTMS. You take it home, fire up iTunes, hit “iTunes Store”, find the “Quick Links” section in their home page, find the item named “Redeem Code”, type 12 uppercase letters from the card into an entry field and then, uh, I don’t know what comes next because the iTunes client makes you sign in and my password isn’t working. It’s easy to reset your password, but I’ve already way way overinvested in this stupid song. It’s free on filesharing networks. It’s free on the web. It’s free at Myspace. And none of those make me sign in.
But I know why you have to sign in, and I guess I think it’s reasonable. The issue is that this download is highly controlled. Every angle on every bit has been scrutinized by committees at Apple and Starbucks. And everybody involved knows that it’s not going to make much, if any, money, so giving a smooth customer experience is not worth investing in. It’s the essential worthlessness of a free download causing the problem.