New Pepsi-iTunes promo, same old 'hack'

Buy a soda, unscrew the cap, and see if you've won a free song. Sound familiar? So is the way players are "hacking" the setup. Photos: 'Hacking' the iTunes-Pepsi promo

Ina Fried Former Staff writer, CNET News
During her years at CNET News, Ina Fried changed beats several times, changed genders once, and covered both of the Pirates of Silicon Valley.
Ina Fried
2 min read
With the second Pepsi-iTunes contest under way, iTunes fans have again discovered how to tilt the odds in their favor.

The contest gives those buying specially marked bottles a 1 in 3 chance of winning a free song download by discovering a special message printed on the underside of the cap. However, as was the case last time, enterprising music fans can sidestep the element of chance by way of a low-tech "hack."

They can simply hold a bottle up at just the right angle and see either "Free Song" or "Please play again."

"You'd think they would have learned the first time around not to put the codes under the cap," Toledo, Ohio-based blogger Rick Reed said in a recent posting. "Let the tilting begin."

But it would be difficult to fill an iPod at Pepsi's expense--the soda maker is limiting the amount of free codes one person can redeem to 10 per day and 200 over the life of the contest, which runs through May. Also, unless people want to be really dishonest, they have to buy the 20-ounce bottle, which typically fetches at least the 99 cents they'd pay for a track on iTunes.

An Apple Computer representative declined to comment on the issue. A Pepsi representative did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

The promotion began Jan. 31, and bottles are making their way to different areas. Enthusiast site iPod Garage has been posting maps of where bottles have been found.

Even with the ability to spot winners, the last go-round was something less than a hit, with only 5 million of the 100 million winning songs redeemed, as the bottles were slow to find their way to shelves. In part as a result of the low redemption rate, Apple missed its goal of selling 100 million songs in its first year.

However, sales at the iTunes Music Store have continued to rise, with the company topping the 250 million song mark last month. At the time, Apple noted that it is selling songs at the rate of 1.25 million a day.