Wednesday, August 15, 2007


After the news that Universal is experimenting with DRM-free music downloads, I thought I'd have a look at one of the platforms where this will be available: gBox.

Opening in Firefox is not (yet) possible - though using the IETab extension works. Once the user agent is sorted, the interface is fairly attractive and responsive, although search and browse are currently pretty poor. The teasered songs were not very extensive, and the alphabetical list of artists is far too large to skim through (give it a go yourself)

Although gbox is partnering with Google on this, the "g" does not denote Google, rather insinuates that the site is used for "gifts". The current setup is essentially a glorified music wishlist. Purchasing music for yourself is certainly permitted, but seems to be an add-on functionality!

Once registered and logged in, I was able to create this list of desired tracks:

Get your own gBox
Gift Me

The HTML code snippet may be simply cut and pasted anywhere (although it doesn't fit in the right sidebar on this template). Now readers of this blog are free to give me music pressies :-)

There seem to me to be a few usability and compatibility problems with this service, we'll see how long it takes to get them sorted. However the wishlist widget is pretty funky, and may gain traction in the wild.

My concern is that by ruling out Apple as a partner for this experiment, Universal are losing a control factor, namely the comparison of DRM and DRM-free sales where usability is the same high quality. We'll see how this turns out.

[Update: If like me you use Google Reader, you'll not see the widget. Click through to website to see this post in it's full glory]

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