Struggling British retailer HMV has launched a new iOS application called Listening Post, which it hopes will tempt you into purchasing physical music again. The handy app allows you to photograph an album cover and sample tracks before purchasing the release online, but it has one major flaw.
HMV is famous for the Listening Post service, which once allowed shoppers to sample albums in its retail stores before they make their purchase, simply by scanning the album’s front cover. Not many stores still provide it, but the retailer has revived Listening Post on the iPhone
The new app works just like the in-store service — allowing you to search for albums and listen to samples of each track — and it also gives you the opportunity to purchase music online. But the problem is, it only offers physical CDs — not digital downloads from its HMV Digital service.
This is a little bemusing to us. HMV’s retail stores have long been suffering at the hands of online retailers that offer up tax-free discounts on physical goods, and music stores like iTunes that offer quick, convenient digital downloads.
So you’d think that by offering a portal to its digital service, the new app would provide HMV a much-needed sales boost. Instead, its samples are likely to further encourage users to just open up the iTunes app and download the music they want to listen to directly to their device, rather than waiting days for the CD to arrive by post.
The app is certainly a step in the right direction, offering customers a service that they won’t get from other physical media retailers. But for those who have already begun purchasing their music in a digital form, I don’t think Listening Post will lure them back into buying CDs.
Maybe I’m missing the point here. What do you think of HMV’s new app?