One might think that the fact that I have become a member of the Sprint Ambassador Program (which entitles me to a free Samsung A920 phone and 6 months of absolutely free service) might cause me to blog about how wonderful the Sprint Power Vision network is. Unfortunately for Valentine, McCormick, & Ligibel, the marketing agency that sent me the email invitation to the program, most of my experience has been disappointing.
A prime example of this would be Sprint's Music Store. The mobile interface (seen in the blurry photo to the left) leaves much to be desired. A majority of the screens, as you can see, are filled with lists of song categories, artists, or songs. This makes navigation a time-consuming matter of scrolling down multiple pages in order to find the entry you are interested in.
This problem is made even worse by the fact that Sprint misuses the tabs at the top of the music store interface to only differentiate between the "store" and "player," which seem to be the same application. A more dynamic use of tabs could have reduced the length of the lists and made the store easier to use.
The list-based interface would be reasonable if the Music Store had large amounts of content. Unfortunately, its selection is uneven, with limited songs from some well-known artists. The photo to the right shows that "Debaser" is the only title from the popular American band, the Pixies. According to Wikipedia, the song is also the only Pixies track to appear on The O.C..
If one pays the relatively expensive (compared to other music stores) $2.50 per track, Sprint also provides a "PC download" - a DRM-encrypted Windows Media Audio file. If the file were a "normal" Windows Media Audio file, it would be possible to play it using a number of applications, including iTunes, Winamp, and Rhythmbox. However, the inclusion of Windows Media DRM means that the PC download can only be played in recent versions of Windows Media Player - an application that only runs on Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. Just like the purchasing music from the iTunes Music Store ties me into using iTunes, the DRM that Sprint uses in its music store requires me to use Windows Media Player.
Since Windows Media Player does not work in Linux, there is no possible way to play the PC downloads on my PC. As a result, I was surprised to receive this response from customer service when I complained:
The issue is whether your computer has software to play WMA files. There are several versions available on the Internet, but we're not sufficiently familiar to recommend one.