I noticed something this morning, a little late apparently, about Slacker Radio‘s app on the Windows Phone. Attempting to give it a listen after some time of not using it in preference of using it on another (non-Windows) device, it no longer works. That is of course if you are using a free account.
The first thing that came to mind was, maybe they are having some trouble currently because I was just listening to it on the Android tablet the other day. Clicking on station resulted in a replacement message from Slacker saying “the free version of Slacker radio can no longer run on this device”. In the message, they recommend you upgrade to a paid service or go online and use their web player.
Upon getting to work, I made a fool of myself by complaining about it before researching anything about it first. I wondered how, as members of the press, were we not made aware of this (if it were true). Well, I was quickly informed that I was the only one that didn’t know about this. However, we never spoke of it either, so here it is.
Sometime around September of last year (2016), Slacker Radio decided to drop support for free accounts on the Windows Phone version of their app. Why they would single out just one market out of them all is a little odd, but that is what they did. It works everywhere else, but they decided they wanted Windows Phone users to pay for their service. Maybe their CEO, Duncan Orrell-Jones, has a personal grudge against Windows like Eric Migicovsky (Pebble CEO and Founder). Or maybe just decided to use Windows Phone as a limited test on the market (to determine reaction) as they push hard to improve the amount of paying members they have. If the latter of the two options is the winner, they aren’t doing too well, unfortunately.
The ratings for their app dropped. Currently, it hangs at 2.6, accompanied by angry reviews from users complaining that they can no longer use the app and refuse to be forced into the decision of upgrading.
A lot of the reviews also point out bugs in the app that generally result in it crashing after playing a few songs (for those users who do have a paid account).
This is too bad as Slacker has quite a lot of potential as they grow. They have improved on the audio quality of their stream and have partnered with a number of companies such as Tesla to integrate their services into their cars, including being able to control it with your voice. Some of us can vouch for how amazing the experience is, especially being able to use your voice.
Slacker never updated the description of their app in the Windows store. At this very moment, it still says “Listen free for as long as you like or upgrade to a Slacker subscription“. Something that is helping to fuel the angry reviews of users downloading the app and claiming things like “bait and switch” and “con” in their feedback. Even their website states “free and subscription-based access to millions of songs and hundreds of expert-programmed stations, plus news, sports and talk, on the web, mobile devices, in-car infotainment systems and consumer electronics platforms” (no mention of the phrase “except for Windows Phones”.
The Slacker Radio app for the Windows 10 desktop (PC) still works with free accounts, so it is just Windows Phones that were singled out from Slacker’s services. Hopefully something they will consider reviewing in the near future as the Windows Phone market can use whatever it can get to grow any and become something more than it currently is.