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Sunday

Apple is so good at integrating all of their products and services, that a minor annoyance looks like a significant blunder.

Iím damn near a Luddite when it comes to entertainment technology. I still have an old tube television, and next to it a 10-year old VHS player and a DVD player that I only bought after the first time I went to Blockbuster and found that the movie I wanted was not even available on VHS. So when I sign up for an iTunes account, it means that theyíve moved beyond the early adopters.

The integration of iTunes with all of their products, and the nearly seamless wireless integration of all those products, is a powerful combination. The upgrades to iTV, the new rental feature of iTunes, and the bandwagon-jumping-on by all the major studios, make it something even I canít ignore. I even did some back of the envelope math on eliminating or downgrading my cable TV service in favor if iTunes/iTV. The numbers arenít there yet, and the movie/tv show selection is not there yet, but itís coming. Jobs has been putting into place all the pieces needed for Apple to become an end to end supplier of entertainment hardware, software, and content.

Apple stock is cheap right now, by the way.

So, I signed up for iTunes to ďbuyĒ the free pilot episode of the new Terminator series. To do this, I had to sign up with all the credit card info needed to buy things, so now impulse buys are at my fingertips. When I was at the Terminator series page, I noticed there was an additional episode available for $1.99, but I didnít buy it right away. After watching the pilot, I really did want to buy that other episode.

Hereís where their blunder comes in. I was on my TV Shows page in iTunes, where I would watch the episode from. Theyíve got the artwork, the description of the episode, etc., all nice and neat. A double click and the show is running. So Iím looking for where to click to go the the series page at the store. No such thing. I couldnít get directly from my download back to the store page where I bought it, and where more purchases are available. So I went to the store, navigated to the page, and bought the episode, but it just didnít feel like the Apple Way.

In a Microsoft world, I never would have even bothered looking for such a thing. You canít get the kind of integration in that world where being able to do it would even be a consideration. But Apple has already spoiled me to the point where I not only expect it, Iím kind of surprised and disappointed when it isnít there.

It violates something I think ought to be a rule for anyone selling anything online: if at all possible, your customers/users should never be more than one click away from someplace they can give you money.

UPDATE: I found that there is a link afterall. If you're on the music side of iTunes, it's a lot more obvious. There's a little arrow by each of the song, artist, and album names. For TV shows, there is only an arrow by the episode name that takes you to the series page, but no arrow by the series name. And the arrow is next to the "TV-14" logo, so it looks like it is related to that.

So, it's more of a one-time usability issue, affecting only newbies like me, rather than a marketing blunder.

Interesting side note, I had VH-1's "Top 100 Songs of the 80's" on the other day, and kept saying to myself "boy, I wish I could get that song somewhere...". Duh! I ended up spending thirty bucks over the weekend. Yikes.

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