Saturday, May 01, 2010

Losing lala

The following is a copy of an email that I sent to an online publication today. The letter is in response to the music provider lala's unexpected announcement yesterday. lala surprised customers when they made the sudden move to shut down their website on May 31. Apple, who now has lala in its clutches, is apparently in the process of taking lala to another level.

But Apple's decision will erase all of the promised and paid-for playlists forever. Here is my reaction to what happened:

As the fantastic music from lala plays in my ears...I'm writing this
letter to you.

I opened up the lala website yesterday and was totally shocked. I
was...and so were many other people.

I first thought it was a legal or technical issue and then I realized
that it was just Rotten Apple, regrouping to make more money.

And I am disgusted. Obviously I am not alone.


I have been on the Internet since 1993. In that amount of time, I have
seen sites come and go. I'm sure, as a matter of fact, that Yahoo will
be the next noteworthy presence to disappear from the web. I truly
don't think that they will be around in ten years...unless somebody
like Buffett bankrolls them for some crazy reason.

I was one of the chosen few who was granted an email account directly
from Google when they first introduced gmail. I sent a hilarious email
to Google on April Fool's day that year and they responded with the
offer for the account.

Yeah, I have had some unexpected goodies over the years. I've also had
some bad when MSN suspended my Hotmail account. I
sent email from a computer in the Pentagon (believe it or not, Matt,
it's true) which I really had no business doing. I was with a friend
who was in the military who worked in audio/visual in an official
capacity. He let me use his little cubicle computer to check, send and
receive email for about thirty-minutes one afternoon. We didn't think
anything of it. But somebody else did. And the next thing I knew, I
couldn't get into my account anymore. I contacted the Hotmail people
who limited their explanation to "a very serious reason." This was
before 9/11.


Now I realize why the Feds probably got cranky about it.

Okay, so maybe they had a valid reason.

lala on the other hand, does not.

I know that I paid a mere pittance (ten bucks) to put together my
playlist of over 90 songs. But the fact is that lala promised me that
I would be able to enjoy those songs via their servers forever. Or for
a very long time.

I have only been with lala for four months.

So when I learned yesterday that they are going to go back on their
agreement, I got pissed! I still am.

Shoot, even Yahoo, to their credit, gave us all plenty of notice and
options to save our pictures when they rolled all their photos to
Flickr. I still have all of my photos and I'm very happy with the
present arrangement. So happy, in fact, that I bought a "PRO"
membership with them.

Flat out, I'm a happy customer. Which is what I would have remained
had lala/Rotten Apple not pulled a fast one on me yesterday.

I think lala/Rotten Apple's action yesterday is arrogant. And wrong.

An agreement is an agreement. And I think that lala/Rotten Apple has
the responsibility to honor it.

Facebook pages have sprung up and people are upset. And I think what
really bothers lala customers is the fact that they feel like they got
hoodwinked. I do.

Years ago, I took Google to task about their lame Terms of Service.
And that led to the now-infamous post (Google it) "Google Rolls Over
And Plays Dead." In the midst of the mayhem, an anonymous source sent
me contact information to someone close to Dr. Eric
Schmidt. I called and sent email. And in the end, before the matter
was finally resolved, I got a phone call and had an interesting
conversation with a man who wouldn't give me his name. That experience
is still tucked in the archives in my blog.

I believe that every commercial site on the Internet should play fair.
And I don't give a rat's butt what Giga-Giant is behind it. I know who
is in front of consumers.

And for lala/Rotten Apple to just put up a notice that they're closing
lala...lock, stock and really bad business. After many
years, I don't think that Google would do that even if they did decide
to do something a different way. And as I already mentioned, I'm sure
that even bozo Yahoo wouldn't pull that kind of stunt.

Maybe lala/Rotten Apple didn't think that its customers would mind as
much as we do. But there are unwritten rules on the Internet and there
are still people online who expect those rules to be followed.

Screw lala/Rotten Apple. Screw them both.

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