Wippit is one of the less known, but arguably one of the most promising legal download services currently available in the UK. It has its own catalogue rather than relying on a service like OD2, which has both its advantages and disadvantages.
- Quite a lot of the music is available in the MP3 format with no DRM whatsoever, so you’re not restricted as to what you can do with the files once you have bought them. It also means that non-Windows users get a look in too.
- The site doesn’t insist on Interner Explorer in Windows. It works fine in Firefox, even if it does look like the site was designed in FrontPage (although that said the site design isn’t too bad). Accessability is still a bit of an issue but it could be much worse.
- Tracks are typically 99p, but some are as cheap as 29p. That’s got to be the cheapest you can get, although I can’t say I’d heard of any of the artists whose music was on offer for that price.
- Wippit practically bends over backwards for your money. If the file is an MP3 you don’t have to create a user account (WMA files need it, presumably to generate the DRM), and it accepts all major UK credit cards including Switch and Solo. You can also pay by SMS message. Compare this to Oxfam’s Big Noise Music site, powered by OD2, which alienates anyone without a piece of Visa or Mastercard plastic.
Insecure ordering. It says the ordering is secure but the connection was not encrypted (URL didn’t start with https: and there was no padlock in the status bar). Personally I find that unacceptable.
- It’s a bit empty. The major labels have largely ignored Wippit, meaning that almost all of the music available is from independent label artists. On the other hand, this does mean that the vast majority of music available is good music, from the likes of Fatboy Slim, Franz Ferdinand, Faithless and others that don’t begin with the letter F.
- Minimum purchase is £1, and there’s a 4% surcharge for paying by credit card.
- I randomly hit server problems, which caused my shopping cart to magically empty itself.
Still, I really hope Wippit prospers as it actually has the right attitude when it comes to music downloads.