The highly anticipated release of rapper Jay-Z’s latest album had 99 problems, and software design may have been one. Samsung phone customers who downloaded an exclusive application were supposed to be given a free copy of Jay-Z’s new album, “Magna Carta Holy Grail,” at midnight on July 4, several days in advance of its official release. However, when they attempted to download the album, many found that the app was frozen or received error messages.
The closely watched deal, which involved Samsung buying one million copies of the album, reportedly cost the phone maker as much as $20 million in rights and was widely discussed as setting a new precedent for music distribution models. However, the plan was soon the target of mockery, as non-Samsung users were able to download leaked copies of the album before many of those who downloaded the app could get it to work.
The Toronto Star reported that shortly after the digital release many users began taking to Twitter to complain that the app was frozen on a picture of the album art. On the newspaper’s own test copy, it took more than an hour and a half for the app to start working. The delay prompted a #SamsungFail hashtag on Twitter, where Samsung failed to offer an explanation.
“People were still talking about Magna Carta on Twitter, so Jay-Z didn’t lose entirely as he drummed up the hype he clearly wanted,” The Star’s Karissa Donkin wrote. “But Samsung did lose, as many on Twitter deemed the frozen app a failure.”
Although the delay many users encountered appears to have been the result of insufficient server resources as much as application design, the false start of such a high-profile application launch may serve as a reminder to vendors of the importance of eradicating bugs to avoid bad press. Using tools such as static analysis software, organizations can catch errors in the development process and ensure they do not become the object of widespread anger on social media.
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