I Am Joe’s Blog:

February 28, 2007 • 12:37 PM

Bandwagon Undo and Redo

So you know that whole Bandwagon launch thing that was supposed to happen last week? Well, funny story. The newly launched service lasted all of a couple of days before it was taken offline; it’s now being completely retooled for yet another grand opening in April.

As near as I can determine, what happened was approximately this: A surprisingly large number of people signed up right away for the all-the-iTunes-you-can-back-up-online service at $69 per year. But most of those people had far greater iTunes storage needs than even the company’s most generous estimates. The Bandwagon folks did the math and discovered that they couldn’t possibly afford all the necessary storage space, CPU power, and bandwidth—they’d actually be losing money on the service. So they stopped accepting new subscribers, told the existing subscribers that they’d be getting their money refunded, and announced that a very different version of Bandwagon will go online in a couple of months. The early adopters, having already received a refund, will also get a free year’s worth of service on the new system for their troubles.

So what is this new and improved Bandwagon? You’ll still be backing up your iTunes stuff online. But now, instead of storing it on Bandwagon’s servers, you’ll be storing it on Amazon’s S3 (Simple Storage Service), which is some of the cheapest online storage you can get. You’ll pay Amazon.com directly for the storage space, and you’ll pay Bandwagon either $24 or $36 per year for, apparently, the use of their application. (At the higher price you also get syncing between two Macs, though I’m unsure of the details at this point.) Once again, Bandwagon is offering a discount (half off) for people who sign up before the official launch; you can read about that on the Bandwagon site. And once again, they’re offering an incentive to bloggers, but this time they’re looking for help with beta testing more than publicity, and those who provide helpful bug reports will get a six-month subscription free.

Now, I’ve been hoping for some time that some Mac backup app would directly support S3, so that’s cool. But the fact that it’s limited to iTunes content is a big minus. Also, and I’ve told the Bandwagon folks this more than once, their new pricing structure is a bad idea. They’re effectively asking you to rent their software. Since you’re no longer backing up to their servers, you’re not paying them for a service as such. I can’t comprehend why they don’t do what every other software company does and simply sell licenses to their software. They could charge much more than $36, and even come out with paid upgrades every year or two, so they’d be making more money. But their customers wouldn’t have to feel like they’re renting software by the month, and they wouldn’t have to make recurring payments to both Bandwagon and S3.

There’s another issue, too: S3 in its current form is still pretty much for geeks. Signing up for, and configuring, and account is somewhat complex. And it’s an extra step (or several) that each Bandwagon user must now go through. Bandwagon says they’ll also support other varieties of online storage in the future, but details are sketchy at the moment.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen a less competent product launch, and I’ve seen some doozies. When you’re launching a backup service, you want to instill confidence in your customers, including confidence that you’ve done your homework and have a solid business plan. Launching, unlaunching, retooling, and relaunching doesn’t give me warm fuzzies. The pricing is weird and unfortunate. And the service is unnecessarily limited. But perhaps that’ll all change—maybe several times—before the next launch.

Comments

  1. February 28th, 2007 | 12:40 pm

    […] Update (2/28/2007): Well, forget about all that. The service went offline after just a couple of days and will apparently reappear in another form in April. Read about the details in Bandwagon Undo and Redo. […]

  2. March 1st, 2007 | 5:40 pm

    Joe, thanks for your thoughts. We agree that our undo and redo is not the best way to launch a new product. We apologize and admit our mistake.

    RE: iTunes backup, this is just our initial data type. We will be including other data types over time (photos, documents, excel, etc.).

    Our backup and restore technology are unique in this space. Most files, like document.doc, do not contain extraneous metadata (which makes it easy to backup and restore) but iTunes has special metadata (artist, rating, play count, booklets, playlists, etc.) that most music geeks would want to preserve. Most backup providers will not preserve this metadata changes leaving you to clean up your iTunes items. Photos is also chockfull of metadata. We want to apply this ease of use to all data types.

    In addition, when restoring, bandwagon TELLS you what is missing in one click. Most restore procedures involves folder and file selections and dragging even if those folders and files do not need restoring.

    Bottom line: we are lazy when it comes to backup. Bandwagon wants to make this process so effortless as to leave no excuse not to backup. We do not want to be another me-too manual backup + restore provider (ala BackJack).

    RE: pricing…I have written an explantion on our blog. http://blog.ridethebandwagon.com/2007/03/01/why-monthly-charges-instead-of-a-one-time-fee/

  3. March 1st, 2007 | 9:40 am

    Joe, thanks for your thoughts. We agree that our undo and redo is not the best way to launch a new product. We apologize and admit our mistake.

    RE: iTunes backup, this is just our initial data type. We will be including other data types over time (photos, documents, excel, etc.).

    Our backup and restore technology are unique in this space. Most files, like document.doc, do not contain extraneous metadata (which makes it easy to backup and restore) but iTunes has special metadata (artist, rating, play count, booklets, playlists, etc.) that most music geeks would want to preserve. Most backup providers will not preserve this metadata changes leaving you to clean up your iTunes items. Photos is also chockfull of metadata. We want to apply this ease of use to all data types.

    In addition, when restoring, bandwagon TELLS you what is missing in one click. Most restore procedures involves folder and file selections and dragging even if those folders and files do not need restoring.

    Bottom line: we are lazy when it comes to backup. Bandwagon wants to make this process so effortless as to leave no excuse not to backup. We do not want to be another me-too manual backup + restore provider (ala BackJack).

    RE: pricing…I have written an explantion on our blog. http://blog.ridethebandwagon.com/2007/03/01/why-monthly-charges-instead-of-a-one-time-fee/

  4. March 1st, 2007 | 7:33 pm

    Terence: I appreciate your response. It’s good to hear that you’ll support other data types in the future. As far as pricing goes, for the basic version of Bandwagon, it’s not clear to me why the metadata has to be stored on your servers and not on S3. But I can see how interaction with your servers could be required for something like syncing.

  5. March 1st, 2007 | 11:33 am

    Terence: I appreciate your response. It’s good to hear that you’ll support other data types in the future. As far as pricing goes, for the basic version of Bandwagon, it’s not clear to me why the metadata has to be stored on your servers and not on S3. But I can see how interaction with your servers could be required for something like syncing.

  6. March 2nd, 2007 | 4:13 am
  7. March 1st, 2007 | 8:13 pm
  8. March 21st, 2007 | 6:01 am

    […] though it may expand to cover other data types in the future. As a beta tester, I’ve been underwhelmed, but perhaps they’ll get it together before their next relaunch. Bandwagon uses […]

  9. July 23rd, 2007 | 11:43 am

    […] Bandwagon Undo and Redo […]

  10. November 7th, 2008 | 6:26 pm

    […] Bandwagon Undo and Redo […]

  11. April 13th, 2013 | 2:56 pm

    […] Update (2/28/2007): Well, forget about all that. The service went offline after just a couple of days and will apparently reappear in another form in April. Read about the details in Bandwagon Undo and Redo. […]

  12. June 13th, 2013 | 1:21 am

    […] model didn’t work and they closed before they really started. There is some background here. In 2007 there were few people trying this kind of service and they seemed to have underestimated […]

  13. December 21st, 2015 | 7:25 pm

    […] Update (2/28/2007): Well, forget about all that. The service went offline after just a couple of days and will apparently reappear in another form in April. Read about the details in Bandwagon Undo and Redo. […]

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