There’s big news today at Pono. They sent out a couple of emails to members of their community…I received them both because I have a Pono player and I have downloaded a number of items from PonoMusic during the research project that the Associated Press did on their offerings.
The first email was a tech update announcement. “PonoMusic World 20.0.100 will expire on September 1, 2015. This means that you will not be able to open the application. Click here to download the new version, PonoMusic World 20.0.133” No big deal here. They’ve been doing some normal bug fixing and upgrading to their software and have tweaked the PonoRevealer, the system that let’s listeners compare the same file at various resolution. I found the whole Pono experience somewhat perplexing …it took a couple of tries to get the thing working. As for the PonoRevealer, it was also a bit of an effort…and not one that’s really worth it.
The second email is full of the same marketing spin that Pono has been pushing on unsuspecting consumers since they launched their site late last fall. They keep insisting that they’re doing what’s right for quality conscious music lovers. Here’s the basic gist of the “breaking news”:
Remember the PonoPromise? Because they love and appreciate the Pono community of music lovers so much, “all music purchased at PonoMusic will be upgraded for FREE when a label offers a higher resolution upgrade of the same recording”. THAT IS THE PONOPROMISE, they proudly brag at the opening of the email! And it’s a completely empty promise! What they’re tell their customers…the ones that are paying big bucks for ripped CD…is that if and when the big labels get around to transferring another analog tape from their vault (hopefully the right tape and not the safety copy or EQ’d vinyl LP version), the good folks at Pono are going to swap out the CD spec file for the new transfer done from the standard-res analog tape. I call these “high-res transfers” and I’m actually all right with them offering these files for sale at premium prices because they do represent the very best we’ll ever get of those classic albums.
But the sad truth is that the labels are moving very slowly through their catalogs. They issue about 10 new albums per week. Let’s see…there are three major labels, which means Pono will be able to upgrade around 1500 albums (30 per week times 52 weeks per year) per year. That’s 1500 albums out of their total catalog of “over 2 million”. Not very encouraging if you ask me.
The email continues…
“People have had to deal with changing and eroding quality formats over the years, starting with vinyl, then eight tracks, cassettes, CDs MP3s and now streaming services. Music lovers have been forced to buy or ‘rent’ their music over and over and over again. We here at Pono, think that sucks…But with Pono, those days are over.”
Wait a minute! This is exactly the problem. Customers that have purchased their music in the past in various formats have been assured repeatedly that all they have to do is buy their favorite music one more time. Pono is asking that you purchase your favorites one more time from PonoMusic and you’ll never have to do it again. Because eventually the labels are going to get around to transferring the entire catalog of 2 million tracks. But at the rate of 1500 per year, it’s going to be a very long time until your favorites will be available.
But Pono has a solution for that too.