Last week, I posted about my first experience with purchasing music on iTunes, while also calling out the need for an audiophile digital music store (but I’ll keep dreaming). In the post, I admitted that while I never used iTunes in the past, DRM was finally given the boot, so I felt much more compelled to finally check it out. For the most part, I was pleased with the service, but as I began to use it more, I came to realize just how lackluster the application itself actually is. While I appreciate the large selection of music, for an application so popular and hyped, I couldn’t help but feel extremely underwhelmed.
So, I read a review of the Zune Marketplace with great interest, and installed the application later that evening. What intrigued me about the Marketplace is that the GUI is leaps and bounds above iTunes. Aesthetically, it’s fantastic (almost surprising for a Microsoft product), and after using it, the iTunes interface looks even more boring and unimaginative. Sadly though, the GUI doesn’t mean much if the shopping experience is poor, so I immediately searched for a track and added it to my cart.
Trying to finalize the purchase brought about a nonsensical error, however. “The offer that you are trying to redeem is invalid.” So like always, I hopped onto a search engine, to see if any help could be had. I was surprised to find an absolute lack of results, which only complicated the situation even more. I knew that finding the real reason for issue wasn’t going to be too easy. After all, I was able to log in and add a track to the cart without issue, and I even had spare credit available to take care of it, thanks to the fact that my Zune and Xbox Live account are one and the same.
For the next half-hour, I checked the Zune.net FAQ pages and also spent more time in search engines to see if anyone else had experienced similar issues, and for the most part, I had little luck. However, I did finally manage to stumble on one forum thread that discussed how the Zune Marketplace was still not available in Canada, and that’s when the light bulb went off in my head and the “Doh!” came out of my mouth.
Alright. So, I’m Canadian. For whatever reason, I had thought that the Zune Marketplace was available to Canucks, but I was wrong. I guess I had figured that if iTunes, Napster and a few others were available outside of the US, then surely the Zune Marketplace would be also. The biggest issue to me at this point isn’t so much the fact that Canadians can’t purchase from the store though, but rather that I had to spend so much time to actually find that out.
It mentions nowhere on the official website or inside of the application that Canadian’s (or other countries for that matter) can’t purchase music from the store. It does mention that the “Zune Marketplace is not available in all regions.“, but what it should say is that it’s not available to anyone outside of the United States. Podcasts are an exception, but that’s not the main reason people will ever use the Zune Marketplace.
The fact is, there’s no reason the Marketplace or the FAQ can’t be a little more clear-cut. After all, I signed into the Zune Marketplace with an account that tells them that I reside in Canada. Yet, I was still able to sign in without issue, and also add music to my cart. Why not have it disallow that action if you live outside the US? It seems like a no-brainer to me. Or, at least provide an error that’s relevant to the issue. If iTunes and others can cater to countries other than just the USA, then there’s no reason the Zune Marketplace can’t. Until this changes, it’s going to forever remain an inferior product.