Much has been written about the mediocre Samsung/Jay-Z application “Magna Carta Holy Grail” which is apparently no longer in the Google Play application store as far as I can tell. Working for a company that has a focus on customer obsession and being an Android developer, I thought I would add a few thoughts to the mix (though once again, my opinions are my own). To be perfectly blunt, the application felt like it was designed by a bunch of first graders (no offense to first graders) in both its technical implementation as well as its development of a product.
- Requesting more permissions than it needs – According to The Guardian:
The app – which has since been removed from the Google Play store by Samsung – was described by the technology site Ars Technica as “positively PRISM-like in its requests for your information”, with fans prompted to agree to a number of app permissions before installing it.
Some of those permissions were necessary: for example, to store the downloaded files on fans’ handsets.
Others, such as its request to access the device’s location and information about other apps running on the phone, and to read the phone’s status and identify when it’s being used for voice calls, were more questionable.
Jay-Z needs to know where I am? I didn’t see any geo-location benefits in this application. Why does Samsung need to know that I’m playing Angry Birds?
- Friend spam – To do anything in the application you had to “unlock” it first which typically means spamming your friends on Twitter or Facebook with the “I just unlocked X on Jay’z app! Yay! Be Happy for Me!” You’re basically handing your customers a crippled application and saying if you want to do anything you have to harass people. A more customer-focused method would to make this stuff available regardless and let the customer determine if its worth tweeting (and providing something meaningful for them to “share”). Letting people know you unlocked lyrics isn’t helpful to anyone. In fact, your poor iPhone friends will never be able to get the same enjoyment as you are. Yes, they made a questionable choice with their iPhone (I kid!) but the way the application shares stuff, you’re not offering a way for them to share in your excitement. Let’s be honest, they’re not going to run out to buy a Samsung Galaxy S4 so that they can see the lyrics. Some intrepid person is going to get the PDFs and post them anyway.
- Developmental Laziness or Product People Asleep at the Wheel – I’m not sure if this falls under developer laziness or product people saying “GET THIS DOWN NOW!!!!!!!!!!”. But really, once you’ve unlocked the above lyrics, its some weird PDF view which gets into some weird zoom state and its pretty much impossible to actually read the lyrics. Android has this thing called a TextView. On top of that it then allows you to actually read the lyrics off-line. Crazy, I know. You may not want to constantly use your data connection.
- App Crashes – Enough said. Its annoying. Its dumb. It was constant.
- Server Crashes – You’re Samsung. You just paid Jay-Z millions in some grand marketing scheme. You can’t spend an extra million to make sure your servers stay up? (or that you hire competent developers?)
- Internet Connection Required – Really? Your entire application is what? A proxy to some remote servers? If so, please make sure your servers can handle the load and that your application can properly retry. Its annoying to load an application that shouldn’t require a connection and find out it won’t load. On top of that its annoying to have to basically Force Close your application because it can’t properly recover from some weird network connectivity issues.
- Internet Connection Required, Part 2 – I finally managed to download the music in about 20 minutes before I boarded a plane (and trust me this was at like 5am, so the servers should have been relatively untaxed). I’m like yeah, five hour flight, new Jay-Z, this will be awesome. Oh wait, I can’t play the music because the app requires a connection. #$#@$@#$!
- Music Player Integration – When I first downloaded the music it was not being pulled into my normal music player which caused my above problems on said plane. This appears to have been fixed. But really? Who even thought not having this at first was a good idea? I’m not going to go to some special magical place to listen to Jay-Z. He’s not that awesome.
Apparently even Jay-Z thought this was not cool. Most of this was avoidable and was obviously the result of people making bad choices. Customers will do a lot for free, but that doesn’t mean they should have to, especially if you want them to pay attention to you the next time. You’re not helping your brand image nor generating tons of customer good-will.