Qbox: Great Idea, But Doesn’t Work

Qbox is a new tool that lets you aggregate and play music from a variety of social networking sites like MySpace, Bebo, and YouTube. I was pretty pumped when I read a write-up about the idea over at Mashable, but then I quickly grew disappointed when I decided to try the thing out for myself.

First of all, Qbox requires you to download and install a program — strange, considering the concept is totally web-driven. Once you install the utility, though, things get even murkier. It took me some random clicking around to figure out that I was supposed to hit a random, unlabeled icon that basically just opened the Qbox web site in my browser. Again, no instructions, but I deduced that I was presumably now supposed to click through the site to find an option to create an account before it’d let me use the service.

At this point, I was getting a little annoyed, but I was still intrigued enough to keep going. The next problem, though, popped up after I created my account, when I tried to search for songs (also done through the web site — not through the program it made me install). I found plenty of results, but when I tried to click on the play button for any of them, the web site gave me a pop-up window saying the Qplayer utility — the same utility from which I had clicked over to the site in the first place — hadn’t yet been installed.

I still wasn’t quite ready to give up, so after a few unsuccessful attempts at getting around this, I decided to humor it and click “OK” — hoping a redownload would finally convince this service I had the program and was ready to proceed. But alas, still no success. I was unable to ever get it to even recognize that I had downloaded and installed the damned thing.

Oh yeah, and clicking on the “User Guide” just played a long and tedious video with no useful information. The “Help” section consisted of a FAQ that didn’t address anything related to my issues.

I did a little digging and discovered I wasn’t the first one to have problems with Qbox. Blogger Matt Rosoff of Webware wrote about troubles of his own when he tried it out several days ago.

Don’t get me wrong — the Qbox concept is great. It’d be a treat to be able to track down and play music from various social network services in one central place, without having to deal with all the annoying internal menus and search processes of each individual site. Unfortunately, though, it appears that Qbox has a ways to go before it becomes a practical, functioning solution. Let’s hope for its sake that someone else doesn’t take the same idea and do it well in the meantime, or Qbox may never amount to more than a short-lived blip on the Web 2.0 radar.