Fonoteka

Svibanj 31, 2006

I usually don't write about the Croatian "web scene" because I have the mental health of my visitors in mind, but I just HAVE to write a few sentences about this lousy attempt of creating the first legal music download site in Croatia. Now, I have to mention that I'm not a big fan of T-Com, the leading… nah, who am I kidding – the almost-exclusive telecommunication services provider in Croatia. Not that I have anything against the gals and guys that work there, I just don't like their… "bussiness plan". But, they do allow me to connect to the 'net every day, so I have to show some respect now.

So, the gals and guys decided recently to launch the first legal MP3 download site in Croatia, called Fonoteka. Behind the obscure address (mdp.tportal.hr – WTF? – http://www.fonoteka.hr isn't working at the time of writing this) lies the revolutionary web service. Not.

The first thing that I noticed is the obnoxious "BETA" underneath the logo. I just don't see the point of marking a web service as "BETA" and trying to sell it (or something at it). Sure it'll be updated and sure it has bugs – which (web) app doesn't? – but don't tell me your product isn't finished yet. Why should I use it if it's not finished? 

Next, the layout. Oh, the horror! The whole T-Portal website shares a similar framed design which makes me want to scream every time I visit it. It just annoys me – sometimes it screws up the "back" button, and I can't simply copy/paste the link to the site I'm currently watching. Terrible.

Now when the site experience is already ruined, let's see the offer… It's not too rich, but it's not too poor, either. The fact that it's not too long online (hey, it's BETA) and that they'll probably add some songs and albums as they go helps them a bit. There are a few albums that are interesting to me (I like albums, not separate songs, so I didn't check out that offer), but now comes the interesting part – the price.

Albums are usually not cheap in Croatian music shops (real-life, not virtual :)) – the price for albums of Croatian performers goes around 60 – 100 kn (around 8 – 13,5 €) and around 110 – 150 kn (around 14,5 – 20 €) for foreign artists. The prices at Fonoteka are: 7,32 kn (around 1 €) for a single song, and 73,20 kn (around 10 €) for a whole album. I wouldn't even think about buying a single song if it was two times less expensive than that. It's just damn too much. As far as the whole albums are concerned – it's true that it's probably cheaper, but when you add the ADSL traffic (or the time on the 'net for dial-up users) you spend to download the album, it's the same. Not to mention the inferior quality of MP3 over a regular audio CD and the lack of the original CD booklet. As far as I'm concerned, I'd rather walk a bit to the local music store, buy an original CD for a bit higher price and enjoy the full-quality audio CD with the original booklet.

And the last thing – the payment methods. Or, the payment method. The only way of paying for the songs is over the T-Com telephone / internet bill. Noup, no credit cards, no cheque orders – nothing. Sad, especially because T-Com has its own Pay Way service – an online credit card authorization in real-time. Maybe they'll implement that when they take off the "BETA" out of their logo.

All in all – really poor. Bad site design, poor user interface, weird and monopolistic payment method, insanely high prices and the limited range of songs and albums just don't make me want to use it. Thumbs up for the initiative, but two thumbs down for the implementation and the prices. At least for now.

7 Odgovora to “Fonoteka”

  1. sinisa Says:

    Nice review,
    so far they generated only negative feedback – media didn’t picked it up, buzz was/is low …
    Only way out is to lower the prices and get friendly with blogers:)

    Cheers!

  2. zweistein Says:

    Thanks… I hope that all the negative feedback will only make them do something about it. I’d love to see a similar, nicely implemented service on the Croatian web.

    Cheers!

  3. rospaya Says:

    What did you expect? 20 cents for a song? Realisticly, some songs there are worth even less, but 1 euro is probably a standard price for a single song.

  4. zweistein Says:

    I’d argue that most of the songs over there aren’t worth the price, but “de gustibus non disputandum est” :). I wouldn’t say that’s a standard price for a song, especially when compared to prices of music on standard media. As I said, the quality of downloaded music is lower than on CD (even with really high MP3 bitrates), there’s no booklet and other types of media the artist/record company decides to put on the CD (like a video or a photo gallery) is lost. That’s why I don’t think that’s a good price for on-line music.

    iTunes sells music for $0.99 per song, WalMart for $0.88. Allofmp3.com sells songs for $0.09, but the legality of the service in countries other than Russia is questionable. All of these services are cheaper than Fonoteka. Maybe I’m just crazy, but I believe that these prices can (and should) be lower, when all the factors are taken in concern.

  5. maggi Says:

    I live in croatia, and we may be having terrible web sites and expencive downloads….but…have you ever been in croatia…it probably is an expencive county but it is also the one of the most beautiful countries in the world…you should came and see it…

  6. Nikola Says:

    I live in Croatia, too, so I know all about the beauty of the country. But that still doesn’t solve the problem of Fonoteka :-).

  7. Relpax Says:

    Why has ceased to conduct блог? It is very a pity: (((


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