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FutureNow Post
Tuesday, Jun. 29, 2004 at 6:08 pm

Apple, Conversions, and Usability

By Persuasion Architects
June 29th, 2004

Bryan Eisenberg, Future Now’s Chief Persuasion Officer, shared this little tidbit with me today.

The Internet offers a virtually frictionless way for consumers to buy; that means we must work that much harder to persuade and inform buyers since they are one click from your competitor across the globe. As a merchant you have to decide: will you do the hard work; leave it up to the buyer; or will you let your competitor do it? It’s up to you, the buyer is always one-click away from goodbye.

It reminded me of a letter I just sent to my favorite online music service Rhapsody.

A Letter to Rhapsody Online Music Service

To Whom It May Concern:

I recently signed up with your online music service and was tickled to find an added bonus that I did not anticipate. I am writing in hopes that you will advertise this and others may share my same joy.

What attracted me to your service was the ability to listen to and create my own ‘radio stations’ using your huge library of over 700,000 songs, what was even cooler was the ability to ‘skip’ over the songs that I didn’t like, now that is sweeeeet!

After only a few minutes of using your service I was jotting down new songs I heard on your ‘radio stations’ that I wanted to buy. Immediately I was able to find them in the iTunes music store, download them, and put them on a CD. What an impressive side benefit. Why don’t you guys advertise this?

The only thing that would make it better is if you added a feature that allows me to click on a song and then immediately begin downloading that song in iTunes? I believe this will be a popular feature for Rhapsody users.

As I am writing this someone just told me that I could actually buy songs and make CDs using Rhapsody. Well that is a neat trick! I never would have guessed that. You have done a wonderful job of hiding the prices for each song, and I always wondered what that little flame next to songs that says ‘burn’ means. I somehow thought it meant to get rid of the song, but I see now what you mean.

Next week I am gonna have my cousin, who is a computer programmer, come over and train me on how to make CDs using Rhapsody. I’ll let you know how it turns it. Best of luck and keep up the good work!

Musically Yours,


Is it any wonder that the European iTunes Music store did 800,000 songs in one week? About 4 times the number of the nearest competitor! Is it any wonder why Apple has about 70% of the world’s legal online song downloads?

The music is the same, the prices are the same, so what is the big difference?

While their competitors work hard on adding differentiating features that users might like, the iTunes music store stays focused on a singular simple purpose, to convert traffic into song sales. With that goal in mind they applied their superior ability to build usability into the online music buying process. When a clear business objective is married with persuasive usability, the results are devastatingly powerful. It’s actually harder for music lovers NOT to buy songs on iTunes than it is to buy them.

This is what Future Now means when we use the word usability, it’s getting all the obstacles out of the way and thereby empowering the user to take the action you want them to take.

Next I wiill share a few Future Now style usability tips by dissecting the iTunes music store.

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Comments (4)

  1. It’s amazing how easy it can be to remove said obstacles if business’s take the extra time and listen the their customers and take into account how people really use the internet.

    Everything I like about Apple is because of their usability factor…in terms of iTunes, I can’t count how many songs I’ve downloaded songs, it’s almost too easy, maybe I should open a seperate banking account?! I’m looking foreward to your dissection.

  2. listening to your customers is key. Thats why itunes took off so well!

  3. Very nice site. Will sure visit again.

  4. That’s why I really hate it. I have to waste my money when I can still download it for free to other sites.

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