Thursday, April 1, 2010

Times for discrimination

Perhaps there should be a small graffito on the News International pay-wall: Mac-users not welcome.

The story so far:

Malcolm finds it convenient to pay for one of the Times subscription schemes: it saves a bit of money.

As part of that subscription, Malcolm finds he is entitled to be a "member" of the Times+ scheme. Over a period of many months, he has found that beneficial just the once: getting a discount to the British Library exhibition on Henry VIII.

The present:

It was inevitable, perhaps as an initial "come-on" later to be chargeable, that subscribers should be invited to access the on-line resources of the Times and Sunday Times (soon to disappear behind the pay-wall).

That led to Malcolm reconsidering the "benefits" of this involvement.

Why! here's one! An invitation to download an audiobook:
This month, you can download Tracy Chevalier’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, the huge bestseller that evocatively imagines the story of the girl behind one of Vermeer’s best loved paintings.

Girl with a Pearl Earring is set in seventeenth century Holland and follows the spirited Griet, a girl sent to work in the house of masterful painter Vermeer, inspiring him to produce one of his most magnificent works.

Times+ members can download their free audiobook of Girl with a Peal [sic] Earring, worth £10.99, by clicking on the download links on the right.
Except a large part of the potential invitees are excluded from that offer.

Go two stages further and find this:
WARNING: You are trying to download content for Microsoft Windows Media Player that requires a license. You must use Microsoft Internet Explorer 6, 7 or 8 and make sure ActiveX is enable [sic] in order to download this file.
  • Malcolm, as frequently rehearsed here, is proudly and loudly a Mac-user.
  • Microsoft suspended development of Internet Explorer back in mid-2003, with version 5.2.3.
  • There is, therefore, no obvious way Malcolm (and other Mac-users) can access this download.
Go to the fountain-head!

Malcolm therefore e-mailed

So far, the only response is an automated one:
Thank you for your email. This has been passed onto the relevant department for their attention. Should your enquiry require an answer you will be contacted within three working days.
Yes, it bloody-well does require an answer.


Response received:
Unfortunately, the audiobooks in the Culture+ Harper Audio promotion are available exclusively on Windows platforms and devices at the moment.

Despite our best endeavours, we have been unable to secure an alternative solution that will provide the quality and value that we would wish to offer. However, we will continue in our endeavours to find an alternative solution that will support more platforms and will if, and when, we secure this we will heavily advert the fact on the site.

We apologise for the inconvenience.
That makes News International involvement with iPad look iffy.

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