Thursday, June 12, 2008

Cliq... off... gone

Cliq, the much-trumpeted system which would allow digital radio listeners buy the tracks they were listening to, has been dumped by Unique. They're blaming a shortage of DAB-enabled mobile phones.

It might also be that the radio stations they were embedded into - Heart and Heat and Smooth - just weren't playing music compelling or surprising enough to persuade people to buy on the spot. It was on Magic, for example. If you hear a song you like on Magic, you don't have to enter into a transaction with a mobiel device; you just pick up a compilation CD at the petrol station.

And the system itself was a little more complex than the promised 'one click to buy' proposition:

Listeners can access the CLIQ service by texting CLIQ or the name of the radio station to 78901. Once they have installed the free application on their mobile phone they can then select their chosen station and song they wish to purchase. A confirmation message will direct them to where, once registered, they will be able to download their first track for FREE. To buy more songs, they will need to top up their personal CLIQ account – this can be done both online and on their mobile phone. Tracks will cost £1.25.

It's probably no more complex than it had to be, with its dream of distributing on mobiles via java applets, but assuming the sort of person who'd be interested in the service would have online music store access already, why would they go through the fiddly stuff just to buy a more expensive version of a song they could find on iTunes? Especially when you have to pay in advance for the track?

Having sunk a bunch of cash in developing the system - although nothing on updating the Cliq website since launch - UBC are making noises that they'll keep the technology, with a view to deploying it in a disappointing way in the future. Closure is a £1.1million hit; they're saving themselves £1.2m annual losses, according to figures in the FT.