Back in the 90s, a friend was the engineer at Amazon who built One Click Ordering. It was a pretty nice time-saving innovation (though in no way deserving of patent protection). He tells me that internally they referred to it as "The Money Vacuum", and joked about the day, soon, when all US currency would be replaced with Amazon gift certificates.
So if you're buying a physical object from Amazon, and you're already logged in, here's how that works, even today:
- Click "Buy".
No complaints there.
Oh, but if you want to buy a digital album, a whopping 100 MB spread across 10 files? Here's how that goes:
- Over on the right where it used to say "Buy", now it says "Go Unlimited". I imagine some people find that self-explanatory, but I don't know what it means and I don't care. Click the small text link at the bottom that says "More options".
- Click the button that says "Buy MP3 Album".
- A dialog box pops up: "We are processing your order, please wait out this artifical 10 second delay."
- A new dialog box replaces it: Click the button that says "Download your music now".
- Another dialog box! On this one, ignore the buttons and click the microscopic text at the bottom that says "No thanks, just download music files directly".
- Dialog box number four! "Your download will start automatically -- please sit here and stare at this screen for another artificial 10 second delay."
- Except that 30% of the time it will instead say, "There was a problem with your download." When that happens: Aimlessly wander around the screen for a while until you can figure out how to get into the music archive thingy. Maybe it's under "Departments → Amazon Music → Amazon Music Unlimited"? Nope, that's not it, that's an ad.
- Maybe it's "Departments → Amazon Music → Prime Music"? Nope, another ad.
- Maybe it's "Departments → Amazon Music → Open Web Player"? Which spawns a new browser window. Yeah, that's it.
- Now click "Recents → Added".
- Now multi-select each track of the album that you just bought.
- Now click the "Download" button.
They should totally patent "Seven to Twelve Click Purchasing". It's the next big thing, I'm telling you.
And hey, let's contrast that with the insane up-sell that you have to sit through every time you upgrade iOS:
- Settings → General → Software Update.
- "Yes, I am sure".
- "Yes, I accept the license that I have not and will never read".
- Wait, like, an hour.
- Unlock your device.
- Click "Continue".
- Decline to type in your Apple ID password, because this step is completely unnecessary -- the password is still saved on the phone!
- Click "Yes I am sure."
- Click "Turn off iCloud Drive". Note that this is a lie because it was never turned on in the first place.
- Do I click "Cancel" or "Continue"? Which one means "fuck off"? I think it is "Continue".
- Click "Don't share analytics".
- Click "Get started!" Hey, you know what would have been a better way for me to get started than clicking on "Get started!"? I'd say, not clicking on "Get started!"
What did the computer say in that Black Mirror episode? "Your eyes must be open while viewing this commercial, or penalties will apply".