2006 Vaporware Award: SpiralFrog
SpiralFrog has won our famed Vaporware Award For 2006. The company was supposed to debut a free music downloading service in 2006, but nothing has materialized.
Even after the New York City-based company made a series of splashy announcements in the summer of 2006, when it boasted of big plans to distribute free music downloads via an ad-supported Website from Vivendi’s Universal Music Group, there hasn’t been anything available from SpiralFrog who promised a December launch date. The company is now hoping to make its debut by the end of January. Ah-huh…
In addition to Universal, the world’s largest music company, SpiralFrog has also signed on with independent label Koch Records. Robert Goodale, the company’s chief strategy officer, said the company began beta testing this month and expects to announce partnerships with about 20 smaller independent labels. But he wouldn’t comment on the state of negotiations with the three major labels who have not signed on: Sony BMG, EMI Music Group, and Warner Music Group.
At SpiralFrog’s proposed “website,” the music is free, but comes with some important restrictions. The files can’t be transferred from a computer to a CD, and they’ll be wrapped in locked version of Microsoft’s Windows Media Audio, which means they won’t play on Apple’s dominant iPod players. And consumers who download tracks from SpiralFrog will have to log on to the site at least once a month to ensure that their downloaded tracks remain playable. In other words, One step forward, two steps back.