Quantity vs Persistence

Have you see the Napster To Go [Away?] ads? Here’s the marketing mathematics:

iTunes + iPod = $10,000 (to fill an iPod from iTMS)
[various clunky MP3 players] + Napster = $15/month

Isn’t that interesting? Oh My Goddess, you mean I can just spend $15 per month—why, that’s only 50¢ a day!—instead of ten thousand dollars to have full use of my iPod? Why, this can’t lose!

Now, there are many times where I see certain similar patterns in very different domains. This is just the garden-variety human ability to abstract and generalize; this is just one mechanism of learning.

I knew that Napster’s math was off of reality for a few reasons, but the pattern of this struck me more fundamentally that just a lame attempt by an also-ran to grab attention to itself. There are other examples of this line of thought, but they’re boring.

No, the more interesting part of this is what compromises Napster is making of itself here in order to compete with a more natural model (i.e., ownership). It’s the same compromise of ethic that many of the religions—or at least the most visible and extremist members of such religions—are making: they’re trading long-held ethics for the shot at a Transient More. They’ve traded their own morality, their own compassion, in favor of political prepotence. A ridiculously unworthy trade, but there they are, giving away their own permanence in favor of cheap shots at homosexuals, punishment of women who dare believe they should have a say over their own reproductive systems. Make no mistake…these religious types are the modern day Pharisees…they are the money-changers in the temple. They are the Caesar that the fringy, unwashed hippies and other liberals are supposed to be rendering unto.

Rome has come and gone (though it’s making a return these days), but the Christians had endured because they chose the path of permanence. And now they’re cashing in.

So you Napsters out there, pay your $15/month. Five years from now, you’ll have paid out $900 and if you stop paying, or more likely, if Napster shuts down, you’re out $900. If I buy $15 worth of songs from iTunes Music Store every month, after 5 years I’ll have 900 more songs. Oh, you’ll still have all those old songs too, the ones that Napster doesn’t want you to remember you have, but you’re throwing your energy away while I am investing mine.

So you Christians out there, pay your political dues and cash in. Years from now, you’ll have emptied your moral and ethical stores and if you stop politicking, or more likely, if your party comes crashing down, you’re out of all decency. If I continue to do what’s right, what’s compassionate, what’s decent, what’s freedom-loving, what’s respectful, years from now, I’ll have my pride and the world around me will be better because of me. Oh, you’ll still have the right to claim a lifelong devotion to the Jesus-meme, the one that the Falwells and Robertsons don’t want you to remember you have, but you’re throwing all of your energy into their campaigns instead of towards your god, while I, with no god to speak of, am investing in my fellow human beings.

Marketing messages are funny, aren’t they?