Posted by Shreyas Gosalia, Associate Director, Product Development If you have not yet heard, Samsung partnered with Jay-Z for an exclusive giveaway of Jay-Z’s highly anticipated album Magna Carta Holy Grail in a $5 million deal. The first million users of Samsung’s Galaxy S3, S4, and Note II to download the Jay-Z Magna Carta app by Samsung Mobile US would receive free access to Jay-Z’s new album and relative content three days before the world release. Like many other Jay-Z fans, I jumped at the opportunity to be among the first million to have early access to the new MCHG album. What followed was one of the worst overall experiences I’ve ever had the displeasure of having with a mobile app. Data and Privacy As I hit the download button, I was somewhat appalled at the myriad of app permissions I had to agree with to get the app: Why would Jay-Z and Samsung need access to all of this information? After all, this is merely a means for me to receive access to the music—not a two-way channel for me to engage with Samsung or Jay-Z. Nevermind. I’ll overlook it and worry about it later I suppose. After installing the app, I was required to sign-in with either my Facebook or Twitter account, then verify my age. There was no way to access the content without doing so. As they say, there’s nothing free in this world. Experience Upon complying, I attempted to browse through the app, only to get more and more frustrated. The lyrics to the songs were blocked out, only to be unlocked if I shared content via a tweet or Facebook post. I hoped to at least watch the videos, but to no avail. Despite being connected via Wi-Fi, the videos would not load. The only thing that worked seamlessly was the countdown screen. On July 4th, 12:01AM EST I grabbed my phone and opened the app to get access to the album. The white MCHG background appeared with a small spinning circle. How long could it take to load? The circle stopped spinning and nothing happened. I restarted the app and the same thing happened. My patience was tested as I tried and tried again. On the 7th or 8th attempt, I received the dialogue below:
Perhaps it’s just my phone. I took to Twitter to see what others were experiencing—one of the biggest fails ever. Tweet after tweet, a backlash of criticism, distrust growing. Apple iPhone users everywhere rejoice. Users flooded the app feedback in Google Play Store with negative comments:
Given the current state of mobile competition, in which participants are purchasing new smartphones every two years at earliest on special upgrade pricing, I imagine the point of this whole event was to build brand advocates and harvest user data. Smartphone users worldwide would see that they can expect to receive early, exclusive access to highly sought out content and media on Samsung devices. How could Samsung, a mobile manufacturer, give its participants such a poor mobile experience? I did not receive access to the album until around 5:00AM EST. At this point, I could only play the music via the app. To no surprise, playing music in the app was a challenge in itself. If I scrolled down to see what songs were in the album, the app crashed. If I tried to play a song that wasn’t in the first three on the list, the app froze. The music was not showing in “My Music.” Rather, it was hidden in a deep subfolder on my SD card. Now that I had access to the music, what was the point of the app? Nothing else in it works and I am receiving more frustration than utility—time to uninstall. Implications When obtaining user data, maintain a level of transparency of not just what you are requesting, but why you are requesting it. The data permissions Samsung required for a user to download the app did not in any way enhance the experience. For instance, there was no engagement between Samsung and the user, nor was the mobile experience custom to the user’s data. The only point at which Samsung engaged with its participants, and to its credit, was during the outbreak of bad reviews and complaints via social media. Providing your participants with a poor user experience can be detrimental to your efforts and your organization. As frustration builds, credibility falls and participants are hesitant to give second chances. According to IBM, 89% of customers choose to do business with a competitor following a poor customer experience. Samsung spent $5 million on this launch—only accounting for the 1 million copies for Samsung users—and with its poor execution, Samsung gained a flurry of negative reactions and a reputation for being sub-par in mobile apps. It remains to be seen whether or not this debacle will cause a loss in its overall reputation and sales. On the contrary, a strong mobile experience comes with its rewards. For instance, Sephora recently redesigned its mobile experience to address its participants’ needs. As a result, Sephora experienced a 150% increase in sales. When designing a mobile program, the first and foremost item to consider is how your mobile offering will address participant needs/wants. At Performics, we call this “The Participation Way.” Our product methodology is dependent on a deep understanding and appreciation of the needs and behaviors of the brand’s most coveted participants. Before launching your next mobile offering, it is important to get an understanding of mobile best practices. Performics is proud to announce we have developed a proprietary mobile methodology. More details are to follow, however you can contact us today for more information.