|DJ HERB GREENBERG: Why I hate My iPod|
By Herb Greenberg, A Dow Jones Column, 11 Oct 09:28
SAN DIEGO (Dow Jones)--It's hard not to be impressed with the turnaround at Apple Computer (AAPL), or the general beauty of the iPod and the overall marketing of the Mac.
But I have a gripe and something tells me I'm not alone: My iPod is terrible if I use it while running for any longer than 20 minutes or so. It doesn't really matter if I have it on an arm strap, as salespeople advised when I bought mine almost a year ago. There was certainly no reason to think the iPod would consistently freeze after 20 minutes, which isn't cool if you like to run for any period of time over 20 minutes, as I do - and like listening to music while you're doing it!
Despite having a finicky hard drive, iPod print ads show someone who appears to be dancing while holding an iPod. On its Web site, Apple says that "jogging along the beach" is one of the things you can do with an iPod. In an FAQ on the same Web site - in response to the question, "Can I use iPod while running or doing other activities?" - the company says the iPod "was designed for people with an active lifestyle" and boasts that it has "up to 20 minutes of skip protection." Interestingly enough, there is little consistency in company promotions about the amount of skip protection. A comparison chart of iPods on the Web site says the iPod has 17 minutes of skip protection. Yet among "iPod features," Apple boasts that you can "jog without fear - 25 minutes of skip protection."
What happens after 17, 20 or 25 minutes? The iPod doesn't skip - it just stops! And it's not easy to reset while you're running without stopping and giving the device a chance to settle down.
This wasn't a problem at first. The iPod worked beautifully during my normal 40- to 50-minute runs. But then the problems started, first sporadically with strange skipping. Now it's daily and occurs at almost the same spot on my running route.
Several trips to the "Genius Lab" at my local Apple store didn't help, other than to be reminded that the iPod wasn't really built for runners. (Well, then why do they say it was designed for "active" people and that I can "jog without fear"?) I was also told to update the software on my iPod. I did - didn't help.
I was also told to disable my Norton Anti-Virus while doing any updates; did that, too. (Funny, they don't tell windows users to do that before there's a problem.)
A quick check of message boards at iPod support on Apple's Web site shows plenty of other runners who use the iPod feel as cheated out of $249 as I do. As one person wrote, "There's truth, and then there's advertising."
I think Apple can do better, and this is my suggestion: For goodwill's sake, give current iPod users claiming exercise-related freezing one-time amnesty to swap their iPod for 50% off on an iPod Nano, which doesn't have a hard drive. (I don't care if the Nano scratches easily, as long as it works!)
It's not as if Apple hasn't had problems with its iPods before. Earlier this year the company agreed to settle a class-action lawsuit over batteries in early iPod models that lost their ability to hold a charge.
I hope Apple is listening, because this iPod experience is leaving me with a bitter taste. But I'm not holding my breath. After explaining the issues to Apple's public relations department - and after several days of waiting for a response - Apple declined comment.