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Washington Post Covers iPod Battery Ruckus 923

Posted by michael
from the disposable-world dept.
An anonymous reader sent in a link to 'Battery and Assault: When His iPod Died, This Music Lover Tackled Apple. Stay Tuned.' in the Washington Post. The article (good reading even if you're familiar with the situation) has Apple reps being rather callous about the issue - I think it's a fairly reasonable assumption that if you spend several hundred dollars on a gizmo, it shouldn't be "disposable". A replacement battery for my cell phone cost $10; one for my cordless phone cost $10; Apple is presumably making a good deal of money on their $99 replacements.
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Washington Post Covers iPod Battery Ruckus

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  • But... (Score:5, Funny)

    by oGMo (379) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:33PM (#7775299)

    It's an Apple battery. That's $99 of quality Apple engineering you're paying for.

    ;-)

    • It's not an Apple battery.
      It's a battery from a third party manufacturer.
      Apple doesn't make batteries.

      (PS. Apple has switched to a new battery manufacturer)
      (PPS. My old first edition iPod still works perfectly. Most of them do.)

      • by Politburo (640618) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:38PM (#7775337)
        PPPS. Anecdotal evidence doesn't help the people whose batteries HAVE failed.
      • by nyseal (523659) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:21PM (#7775610)
        Doesn't mean it's not their responsibility.
        • by dasmegabyte (267018) <das@OHNOWHATSTHISdasmegabyte.org> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @09:22PM (#7776288) Homepage Journal
          You're right. It's completely their responsibility...for the one year period of their warranty. Then you have to fix it your damn self, pay them to do it, or shell out the $150 for ipod 3 year warranty.

          This is not that strange. People shouldn't get free repairs forever on any device, and 1 year is much longer than the other hard drive based players offer.

          On the other hand, Lithium Ion batteries last a long time in a small footprint, but they do die. And to replace them for ANYTHING is expensive, for whatever reason, it's why i made sure my latest digital camera ran off AAs. The $99 (you know, i heard $79 when I looked into it...it s inevitable with these things) upgrade includes some guy taking apart your ipod and replacing the battery, hopefully not messing up the delicate electronics while he's in there. $99 is not bad for invasive service on ANY device...I got charged $119 for Canon to CLEAN my printer a while back. Clean it!

          I'd love to see Apple lower the price on these things, but it probably isn't going to happen. Best we can hope for is a third party to offer battery service for less money. There are battery sales for the 1 and 2G ipods...all it will take is one entrepeneur to offer these, with install, for a fair price. Maybe even auction off "battery repair" on ebay. Heckuva way to work yourself through an electronics trade school...
          • by 00420 (706558) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @01:34AM (#7777328)
            This is not that strange. People shouldn't get free repairs forever on any device

            Since when is changing a battery repairing something?
          • by autopr0n (534291) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @01:38AM (#7777354) Homepage Journal
            You're right. It's completely their responsibility...for the one year period of their warranty. Then you have to fix it your damn self, pay them to do it, or shell out the $150 for ipod 3 year warranty.

            Yeah, but for a well designed product, a dead battery does not require "fixing" or "service", it requires a trip to Target, pushing in a button, and popping in new batteries.

            On the other hand, Lithium Ion batteries last a long time in a small footprint, but they do die. And to replace them for ANYTHING is expensive, for whatever reason, it's why i made sure my latest digital camera ran off AAs. The $99 (you know, i heard $79 when I looked into it...it s inevitable with these things) upgrade includes some guy taking apart your ipod and replacing the battery,

            This is just ridiculous. Lithium Ion batteries will fail and fail within a year or two of constant use. It's just the way they are. Batteries aren't like solid state electronics, which pretty much work forever, or even hard drives (which have a constant failure probability, meaning that it's as likely to break down 20 years after you buy it as the day you bought it).

            An irreplaceable battery is simply a horrible design decision, and very poor engineering. Any other company, and people would be screaming to the sky at how shitty a job they've done. But since it's apple, they get a pass from all the people who worship the company.
            • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:19AM (#7777517)
              An irreplaceable battery is simply a horrible design decision, and very poor engineering.

              Except it's not irreplaceable. It requires a screwdriver to replace. Pop the casing off, unplug old battery, plug in replacement, put case back on. Wipe hands on pants.

              Not much difficulty, and you only need to do it once every 1.5 to 2 years. And if you don't like doing it, you can pay someone to do it. Even the manufacturer, if you really want to.

              The iPod is well designed. Look how small it is! Isn't that cool? Why would Apple ruin a device by making it butt-ugly 24/7 just to make a once-every-two-years task a little simpler?

              Even if you do think it's crap, don't bitch about it. Go and buy an iPod competitor, which will either be bigger, have no hard drive, take longer to upload to, have a non solid-state controls, have jaggy edges, have a crap user interface, or some combination thereof.
          • by rworne (538610) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @02:09AM (#7777478) Homepage
            Actually the $99 you pay gets you a refurbished iPod, not the iPod you sent in in the first place. Read the Apple site:

            NOTE: iPod equipment that is sent in for battery service or service requiring other repairs will be replaced with functionally equivalent new, used, or refurbished iPod equipment. You will not receive the same iPod that was sent in for service.

            iPod Battery Replacement [apple.com]

            Getting a new or refurbished unit isn't all that bad of a deal. I'm pretty sure they won't send you a dinged-up scratched to hell unit
          • by lysium (644252) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @03:21AM (#7777689)
            A GameBoy Advance comes with a rechargable Lithium Ion battery, good for 8-15 hours, with an expected life of 99 charges (or so the manual states). Rather than create a lucrative market of lock-in replacements, Nintendo opted to secure the battery to the bottom of the unit with a simple screw. Thus, additional/replacement batteries are sold as accessories, by Nintendo and third-parties, for $19.95. This battery is powering a bright backlit LCD screen, so it is not particularly weak, either.

            Apple's engineering Wizards could have designed an easy-to-service battery if they had wanted to. Rather, it seems the decision was made to turn an EASY replacement into a revenue stream. Why are so many posters (not the parent in particular) trying to rationalize corporate greed? Just be honest, and call an elephant an elephant when you see one.

            ========

            • by hype7 (239530) <u3295110@@@anu...edu...au> on Sunday December 21, 2003 @12:36PM (#7779428) Journal
              iPod: 10.4 x 6.0 x 1.6 cm = 99.84cm cubed volume

              GBA: 13.5 x 8.0 x 2.5 cm = 270cm cubed volume

              It's easy to add everything. Problem is, you end up with a "fat" product. Just ask MS. Apple know what to cut - and that's why people are comfortable carrying around an iPod in their pocket.

              Oh, and the reason that those batteries are so cheap (relatively) is because they're AAs. Failed to mention that bit. Interestingly enough, it's Nintendo that are making the $$$ on the batteries - that's way too much for a set of rechargables.

              Apple's engineering Wizards could have designed an easy-to-service battery if they had wanted to. Rather, it seems the decision was made to turn an EASY replacement into a revenue stream. Why are so many posters (not the parent in particular) trying to rationalize corporate greed? Just be honest, and call an elephant an elephant when you see one.


              I call bullshit. The battery service has only been offered in the last couple of months. How long has the iPod been around for? If it was designed to be a revenue stream, the battery service would have been around for almost as long as the iPod itself. It hasn't been.

              -- james
    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:50PM (#7775413)
      as well.. For instance you don't need to edit some strange text file with Vi, you can just plug it in and it all works.

      It also tells you in your choosen language if you have managed to insert it incorrectly.

      Praise Apple!
    • Re:But... (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Cobralisk (666114)
      Apple generally enjoys positive PR in print media and perky goodwill in the marketplace, especially from younger, hipper demographics trained from birth to shun expensive labels or corporate identity...

      This is actually a quote from the article. I guess Apple has nothing to do with expensive branding and corporate identity.

      What world am I living on?

    • by gaijin99 (143693) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:14PM (#7775570) Journal
      My favorite quote from the article:
      Apple generally enjoys positive PR in print media and perky goodwill in the marketplace, especially from younger, hipper demographics trained from birth to shun expensive labels or corporate identity,
      Shun expensive labels or corporate identity?!? What is Apple if not an expensive label or a corporate identity? Don't misunderstand, I kinda like Apple, but I've never understood the way they managed to get people to believe that they were anything other than the BMW or Mercedes of computers: good quality but ultimately too pricey for anybody but yuppies.

      The real alternative from the corporate dominated, expensive label, universe is any free Unix (*BSD, Linux, whatever) on cheep hardware. I'm too poor to pay an extra 10-15% for "Apple Engineering", or (more realistically) the Apple Image(TM).

      Again, I'm not trying to flame or troll here, I do know that Apple generally produces very high quality products, and I'm not trying to say that people shouldn't use Apple, I just can't see how they got a "rebel" image...

      • by kevcol (3467) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @08:35PM (#7776060) Homepage
        Shun expensive labels or corporate identity?!? What is Apple if not an expensive label or a corporate identity?

        But that's the whole point of the Cult of Apple with some people. It's kinda like a kid who thinks of himself as a "rebel"- he doesn't buy $200 basketball shoes, won't wear sideways facing baseball caps or baggies below the waist, and his speech is unaffected by the rap patois- y'know- trying to sound like you come from the inner city when you actually live in a farming town in Kansas. So what does this kid do? He buys only a certain brand of black boot (often Doc Martens), a certain long black overcoat, with matching black t-shirts, dyes his blonde hair black, all because he is 'anti-fashion'. Hey- marketers know these types of people exist and know they can sell stuff to them easy.

        Now if you'll excuse me, I have to listen to some tunes on my iPod.
      • by autopr0n (534291) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @01:49AM (#7777402) Homepage Journal
        Shun expensive labels or corporate identity?!? What is Apple if not an expensive label or a corporate identity? Don't misunderstand, I kinda like Apple, but I've never understood the way they managed to get people to believe that they were anything other than the BMW or Mercedes of computers: good quality but ultimately too pricey for anybody but yuppies.

        Heh, it's funny. The "Apple : Computers :: BMW : cars" is actualy one of their marketing Memes. They want people to think that. You don't need to be a Yuppy to spend an extra $500 or so on a computer, unlike spending an extra $10k on a car. So it works out really well for them.
    • Re:But... (Score:5, Funny)

      by seanadams.com (463190) * on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:43PM (#7775762) Homepage
      t's an Apple battery. That's $99 of quality Apple engineering you're paying for.

      No.... Apple just breaks even on the music store so they can sell iPods. Then they break even on the iPods just so they can sell you the batteries!
  • Agreed (Score:3, Interesting)

    by moehoward (668736) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:33PM (#7775300)
    It is a rather lousy design. I have a new 30GB iPod and the battery status and recharge times are just goofy and all over the place. Yes. I have upgraded software.

    Just poor design. Nice and shiny on the outside, but terrible engineering elsewhere. And yes. This battery problem is simply terrible, embarassing engineering.

    Mr. Jobs' ego is too big to admit to this problem. Anyone who defends Apple in any other regard just has to look at how they handle goofs like this. It says an awful lot about the company.
    • Re:Agreed (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PogieMT (668493) * on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:36PM (#7775314)
      And it makes you wonder if there won't be a typical Apple result. The company is innovative, no doubt, but always struggles with details. A lower cost alternative with better tech is going to take over this market--and to some extent, already has, no matter how necessary the IPod is to our "yoga tech" culture. Who writes this stuff, anyway?!?
    • Disagreed (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PrintError (708568) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:47PM (#7775395) Journal
      I have a 1st gen 10GB that is 2 years old, I beat it, drop it, drain the battery, do 5% charges, 95% charges, it's plugged in 50% of the time, and in use the other 50% of the time. My iPod NEVER sees a day of rest, never leaves my side, and pretty much never is inactive.

      It runs my work stereo, my house stereo, and my car stereo. Literally, it's ALWAYS ON.

      Last week I turned it on at 9am, and ran it with Sound Check and EQ's turned ON, and it ran until 5:30 where it politely told me it was about to die, then died about 2 minutes later. I'd say 8 1/2 hours is fine out of a 2 year old machine that gets abused as hard as I treat it.

      Or should I be a bitch like everyone else and complain because I'm not getting the advertised 10 hours?
    • Re:Agreed (Score:3, Interesting)

      by trippy (94675)
      How is it a lousy design when they call for specifications that another company promises, but does not fulfill? They took measures to fix the problem by switching battery providers.

      8 hours of battery life is plenty for me as it charges when i am in my car or docked each night at home.

      On your ipod status, i have a 30gb too. Notice that when the hard drive or backlight is on it is reporting how much battery life is left at that current load demand. When those are off, it will have more life. It may seem
    • According to mac rumors [macrumors.com], apple has 1) dropped their main battery supplier and 2) is moving from Li-polymer to a fluidic batter.

      sounds like apple is taking the steps they need to be taking, they just dont have a fix yet. On the other hand I think this battery bussiness is not so widespread but just a few defective ones. I know loads of people with ipods that have no problems.

    • by wackybrit (321117) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:25PM (#7775645) Homepage Journal
      I have to agree with your complaints, but I don't think they're that important to Apple. After all, how many other people have come close to making a similar device?

      All the other devices have lame interfaces, poor displays, and require lots of button pushing. No-one has approached Apple's interface for the iPod. I don't like the iPod, personally, but can recognize it's the best. I don't like the chrome back (why can't it all be in the one material?) which, on my friends iPod, looks all smudgey and dirty from finger prints, and I think this whole 'snow white' phase is going to fall on its ass within the next couple of years anyway. Colored/textured iPods (a la the old iMac) might be a hit.

      If there was something designed a little like the iPod (i.e. easy to use, nothing fancy, clean and simple, not 100s of buttons) for around the $200-$300 mark with, say, recording, and a 20-40GB hard drive, they'd sell like hot cakes.

      As it is, the iPod sells like hot cakes because it's the only viable choice without getting something that's ugly and angular as fuck, and with the world's shittiest interface. Apple knows this, and their computers operate on the same principle. They might not be perfect, but they're better. (Come on, OS X is not the best we could be doing right now, but it's better than the alternatives)

      Owning an iPod is going to be like a chick owning a Chanel purse. Cool, and expensive, and they can keep stuff in it.. but they need to keep changing it every couple of years to stay 'in fashion' and to stop it wearing out.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:33PM (#7775301)
    Prices for Sony's lapttop batteries are even more obscene. $300 for a new batter??
  • Or you could (Score:5, Informative)

    by xpurple (1227) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:34PM (#7775306) Homepage Journal
    Or you could just head over to ipodbattery [ipodbattery.com] and get a replacement battery for half of what apple charges.

    Sure you have to install it yourself, but it's not hard at all.
    • Re:Or you could (Score:4, Informative)

      by Tim Browse (9263) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:45PM (#7775379)
      If you'd read the article (ha) you'd know that they tried that - see the section "Amateur Neurosurgery" on page 4 of the article. They bought a battery from such a site, took their iPod apart, tried to replace it. The iPod died.

      I know you're bound to tell me that they are idiots for breaking their iPod. Personally, I think they're right to direct their anger at a company that [a] Made the battery non-user replaceable, and [b] presumably knew that the batteries could die in about 18 months. If [b] isn't true, then it's just incompetence.

      Disclosure: I own an iPod, and it's working ok, but the battery no longer holds its charge for longer than about 3 days, which is kind of annoying, but iPods are so great otherwise I can live with it. I'm not looking forward to my battery finally dying though.
      • Re:Or you could (Score:3, Interesting)

        by iCEBaLM (34905)
        Li-Ion battery life depends on so many factors. Charging/discharging cycles, user patters, environmental exposure, etc. Just like all rechargable batteries they *will* die eventually.

        The unit comes with a 1 year warranty with option to buy extended warranties. This is what warranties are for. Most batteries will not die after 18 months, most batteries will die in approx 3-5 years.

        Many things have internal non-replacable rechargable batteries. Most PDA's for instance.

        Pick any two:

        1. Thin
        2. Replaceable Ba
    • Re:Or you could (Score:5, Informative)

      by nEoN nOoDlE (27594) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:53PM (#7775435) Homepage
      or you could read the article which states

      "Some of the e-mail the Neistat Brothers received from "iPod's Dirty Secret" came from people who were quick to tell them "that we're [bleep]ing imbeciles, [because] you can buy a battery online and do it yourself," Casey says.

      The brothers already tried that.

      They Googled around and ordered the battery from a different vendor that came with complicated instructions and "these two plastic gigantic toothpicks," Casey says. It took a while to pry the back cover off the iPod's impenetrable design. Beneath that was "a gummy adhesive" which covered the mini hard drive, "and there were these two very tiny connectors with three prongs," in a work space "about the diameter of a needle."

      He felt as if he was performing amateur neurosurgery."

      Of course, I can't have any sympathy for the guy for going out and buying another iPod after the incident.
    • Re:Or you could (Score:3, Insightful)

      by npietraniec (519210)
      He apparently did that [ipodsdirtysecret.com]

      ...broke his ipod, and bought a new one...

      What a dumbass. He bought another anyway... An experience like that would force me to look elsewhere. I'm sure apple wishes they had more customers like that guy. Spray paint campaign aside, he bought 2 ipods and will probably never use anything but apple anyway.
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:37PM (#7775327)
    APPLE: Hello sir, what seems to be the problem?
    USER: Ummm.... I can't turn my iPod on anymore.
    APPLE: Have you tried using the power button?
    USER: Ummm.....
    APPLE: Try pushing the little button to turn it on.
    USER: Umm.... It doesn't work.
    APPLE: Have you tried recharging your iPod?
    USER: I want to listen to my music.
    APPLE: Well sir, it seems like your battery might be dead. You'll need to buy a replacement for $99.
    USER: I got new shoes today.
    APPLE: That's nice.
  • 49 + 50 = 99 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by obiedxss (241764) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:37PM (#7775328) Homepage
    Apple is presumably making a good deal of money on their $99 replacements

    at least $50, including the service fees. that's how much the battery (sans installation) costs here [ipodbattery.com].
  • by blair1q (305137) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:37PM (#7775329) Journal
    Is it?

    I mean, no Apple product could have a defect. Certainly not a predictable one. Certainly not one designed to improve profit margins at initial sale and revenue growth after the warranty period. Not Apple. Not Steve Jobs. Not the Dread Pirate Roberts of Silicon Valley...
  • Lithium Ion Dummy! (Score:4, Informative)

    by agent dero (680753) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:39PM (#7775346) Homepage
    If i'm not mistaken, the iPod batteries are the same as my iBook's. Litium Ion, which needs to be regulated harshly to prevent it from burning up or frying your computer/iPod.

    The iBook batteries are expensive too, same concept, they both have built in circuit boards to make sure the batteries or device is not damaged, unlike this guy's cell phone which is much cheaper akaline (?) or something of the same caliber.
    • But all the ones I've ever owned use either lithium ion or lithium polymer battries. Prior to that, they were nickel metal hydride or nickel cadmium.

      Now I just picked up a new battery for my cellphone, a high capacity one since the normal one wasn't as big as I'd like. I decided to buy a genuine Motorola one, rather than a generic, despite them being more expensive. It was $30 all said and done, for the battery and a backplate to accomidate its physically larger size.

      Now, given that, I cannot concieve how
  • by Hanno (11981) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:40PM (#7775348) Homepage
    ...on how laptop batteries should be standardized [hanno.de]. It never received any feedback, though, so I didn't start the petition.

    But I still wonder why companies still don't come up with a standard form factor. Come on, it's a GOOD thing to have a standard battery form factor. Where is the business sense in keeping a large stock of special-sized batteries for your product that may become useless before you can sell it to your customers?
    • Because it takes pricing and control out of the hands of the businesses that depend on their products having batteries. If there's a standard form of battery, then you have interoperability, and you then don't have vendor lock-in, and then the business loses out because the users are buying their batteries from somewhere else...
    • by msgmonkey (599753) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:20PM (#7775603)
      Actually the cells are a standard format, it's usually the packing and layout that is specific to the laptop. Since the packaging costs nothing as it's just plastic and metal it does n't effect their bottom line, plus there will always still be demand for even a 5 year old laptop battery.
  • by cjhuitt (466651) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:43PM (#7775365)
    While a $99 fee for replacing the battery does seem like quite a bit (knock on wood for mine), this isn't quite a fair comparison:

    A replacement battery for my cell phone cost $10; one for my cordless phone cost $10;

    Both your cell phone battery and your cordless phone battery are, presumably, removable. Now, maybe Apple made a mistake in not making their battery removable (but it sure makes the unit smaller), but regardless, there is a lot more effort involved in replacing the battery for the iPods.

    In addition to this, I'd like to know where michael gets his cell-phone batteries; my last replacement would have run me $40 if I hadn't purchased "insurance" when I got the phone that covered dead batteries as well.

    • Now, maybe Apple made a mistake in not making their battery removable (but it sure makes the unit smaller), but regardless, there is a lot more effort involved in replacing the battery for the iPods.

      I don't think it would affect the size all that much. Cellphones are fairly tiny and their batteries are replacable. spring contacts aren't all that bulky.

      I have to wonder, most diehard Mac fans I know are 'into the environment' as well. How environmentally sound is it to throw an iPod away just because th

  • by utlemming (654269) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:46PM (#7775383) Homepage
    Man, I wish I made batteries. I would make one for the iPod and charge half as much. I think that I could make a fortune.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:48PM (#7775402)
    We had the lead Apple battery engineer speak at Carnegie Mellon a month or two back and he stated that the charge cycle for their portables totalled out at about 500 charges.

    If those guys used their iPod for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, that comes out to about 546 charge cycles in an 18 month period. That also doesn't account for poor battery usage by the user (half charges, etc.)

    The guys who use their iPod all day long everyday should expect the batteries to die after a shorter period. If I ran my car 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, and then complained when the engine blew up I'd be laughed at by the dealer.

    Dealer: "You put how many miles on it in 18 months?"
    Me: "220,000. Why did it die so soon?"
    Dealer: "Because you're an idiot."
    • by Keeper (56691) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:08PM (#7775533)
      The point isn't that the battery went dead, it's that you couldn't replace the battery.

      When was the last time you ran into a dealer that said they wouldn't replace the engine in your car after it blew up?
    • If those guys used their iPod for 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, that comes out to about 546 charge cycles in an 18 month period. That also doesn't account for poor battery usage by the user (half charges, etc.) The guys who use their iPod all day long everyday should expect the batteries to die after a shorter period. If I ran my car 8 hours a day, 7 days a week, and then complained when the engine blew up I'd be laughed at by the dealer. Dealer: "You put how many miles on it in 18 months?" Me: "220,000.
  • by FCKGW (664530) <cclpez802@@@sneakemail...com> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:54PM (#7775444)
    "And soon enough, Casey Neistat went back to the Apple boutique and bought a new iPod for $400, which, he says, 'is totally unfair.' He took it back to the office and showed it to his brother, and they vowed to find a way, Casey says, 'to get back at them.'"

    If you want to get back at a company that screwed you over, don't turn around and give them $400.
  • by Schlemphfer (556732) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:54PM (#7775448) Homepage
    When I first read about iPod's Dirty Secret, it reminded me of the bad old days, when I worked for a PC company that soldered those Dallas clock/battery chips directly onto the motherboard, instead of spending the extra buck to mount them into a socket. There's something about that that turned my stomach; the idea that in five years, this screamingly fast 286 would be landfill material. But thinking more about things, the iPod situation is actually a whole lot different. Let me explain.

    I was given an iPod as a gift and I adore it. There's one thing to keep in mind that isn't covered in the Post article, nor in the iPod's Dirty Secret film. As the Post mentioned, the iPod is good for something like 500 charges. Now the thing to keep in mind, is that if you don't listen to tons of music, 500 charges amounts to many, many years of use. A charge lasts me a good six or seven hours, and I doubt if I listen to more than an hour of music a day. So figure one charge a week, or fifty charges a year. So, for somebody like me, 500 charges lasts nearly a decade (assuming the battery doesn't crap out before that due to old age.)

    There are two things that separate people like me from the Neistat Bros. First is that they listen to a whole lot more music than I do. Second, it seems like they listen to all of their music on their iPod. By comparison, I listen to most of my music on my stereo, and only put on my iPod for trance and classical stuff, where I prefer headphones. For people like me, who listen to their iPods for less than an hour a day, battery life is a non-issue. In five or ten years, I would hope that it would not be worth my time to replace the battery. At that time, I'd be more than happy to plunk down, say, $200 for a low-end iPod capable of storing 100,000 songs and twelve feature-length movies ;)

    One last thing to keep in mind. Good old Steve has had a thing for hermetically sealed boxes since the days of the original Mac, when opening up one to insert a hard drive would void your warranty. And for most people, hermetically sealed is the way to go. If you're a power computer user, you want an expandable computer; and if you're a serious music lover, a sealed solution like an iPod is a poor solution. But there's a certain beauty in keeping things elegant and for making something meant for everyday users.

  • by sulli (195030) * on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:55PM (#7775456) Journal
    my iPod, ordered the day it was announced, still works perfectly. Knock on scratched Lucite.
  • Not that outlandish (Score:5, Informative)

    by cybermace5 (446439) <g.ryan@macetech.com> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:56PM (#7775460) Homepage Journal
    First, lithium-ion batteries are not as simple as other rechargeable batteries. If the battery and control circuitry aren't set up right, the battery will explode or catch fire.

    Second, whose cell phone batteries are only $10? A new lithium-ion battery for my phone costs about $50, and that's just something you can snap on and off yourself. To have someone open up your iPod and replace the battery, then mail it back...doesn't sound that unreasonable.

    It's just what you get for buying a device that doesn't have an easily replaceable battery.

    That said, there are ways to increase the lifetime of a lithium-ion battery. Back when I started college, we were all required to buy laptops. I was one of the few who actually read the manual, and it said the battery was good for a couple hundred full recharges, and about 800 partial recharges. Some people don't understand that lithium-ion batteries don't have the same memory effect that nickel-cadmium ones do. So for the duration of college, I kept the laptop plugged in whenever possible, and only ran the battery all the way down when I needed to use it for that long. Other people had to buy new $250 batteries, but my old laptop still gets about 2 hours life out of its five-year-old battery. I do the same for my cell phone; keep it on a charger whenever possible, and it still had good battery life when I need it.

    If you use your iPod away from any source of recharging power so much, then I guess you just have to live with it. It's a fact of lithium-ion batteries, Apple's doing the best with what technology is available. And $99 isn't too expensive a replacement cost, if you had 18 months of wireless music. If you're willing to plug in whenever you sit down near a wall outlet, and don't wait until the battery is dead before recharging it, then your iPod will last much longer.
  • by jstockdale (258118) * on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:59PM (#7775481) Homepage Journal
    Common guys. This is one of the strongest cases of placing undue blame that I have seen. Manufacturing isn't perfect, and it seems that the number of people having their batteries fail at 18months is the minority. Why not just blame Sony while we're at it for inconsistant manufacturing or testing of their batteries, after all that's who makes the Li-Ion battery found in the iPod line.

    Blaming Apple's engineers or design staff is at most a reach, because they didn't manufacture every piece of the iPod, they spec'd out the available technologies and then put them together with some creative hardware and software to (undeniably) create the best mp3 player currently available.

    Do we see people blaming Maxtor for every hard drive (and it's quite a few) that fails after 18 months, espeically since their warrenty now only covers the first 12? How about the fact that 1 out of about 10 Maxtor drives is either DOA or dies within the first month? (Yes, I'm using a small sample size of my and friends purchases of aroud 14 Maxtor hdds in the last 2 years)

    If you're buying a product with a 1 year warrenty, realize that you might just have to replace it after that time, or repair it. Hell $99 for a new iPod battery? Sounds like a good deal to me. I'd gladly pay Apple $49 to make sure I don't fuck up my iPod installing a $50 battery. This is a case of Apple finding a need of their customers that managed to get some of the shorter life batteries (and eventually the other customers) and responding.

    The iPod video idiots and Washington Post are the ones who have been irresponsible in this case. Taking company policy from peons in the service department (of course they're going to say you have to buy a new iPod back _before_ Apple Corporate got the battery replacement in the pipeline) is not responsible reporting, nor is reporting on company policies that have been outdated by 6 months to a year.
  • by molafson (716807) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @06:59PM (#7775482)
    The iPod's battery is one of the main reasons I've held off on buying one. I refuse to buy a portable music device that doesn't take AA or AAA batteries, since I need to be able to swap in a fresh battery while on the go. (Of course, my Minidisc player gets 40 hours of play time from a single AA battery, and it's not often that I go that long between recharging...)

    Also, as noted, when AA rechargeables begin to crap out, they are cheaply and easily replaced.

    Of course, it may be the case that the iPod draws too much power to subsist on AA's. To this I say: if Sony can design their Minidisc players to use AA's, and Apple cannot do the same for iPods, then Apple ought to hire some better engineers.
    • by linuxpng (314861) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:22PM (#7775626)
      in all fairness, your minidisc player a) doesn't power a harddrive, flash memory, an LCD, backlight, and the electronics that go with it. It's clearly a more complicated piece of machinery. b) hold an entire music collection.

      If apple is guilty of anything it's making the battery not easy to replace. You know, when you buy the thing there's no easy battery door, and you know batteries don't last forever.

      Apple designed this exactly the way they wanted it. So they would be doing the replacements on the batteries and profiting.
      • by Troy (3118) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @08:16PM (#7775965)
        If apple is guilty of anything it's making the battery not easy to replace. You know, when you buy the thing there's no easy battery door, and you know batteries don't last forever.
        I think this is an overlooked point that deserves emphasis. Spending a week doing some product reseach will go a long way. When I shopped for my MP3, I considered all kinds of models and discarded the iPod BECAUSE of the battery issue (it was otherwise a superior product). Instead I when with an inferior but functional Archos product. When the product arrived, I double checked to be sure that battery replacement was convenient. While I DO scratch my head at that aspect of the iPod's design and wonder about the $99 replacement cost, I also find it hard to feel too much pity for these guys. It appears they made a series of decisions that allowed them to get caught with their pants down. I know that if I bought a portable product with no battery door and no replacement instructions, I'd be asking questions. If I wasn't happy with the answers, I'd return it. -Troy
      • by Keith Mickunas (460655) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @08:17PM (#7775972) Homepage
        My Archos has everything an iPod has, costs a lot less, and runs off 4 AA NiMHs.
  • Hardware License (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ignis Flatus (689403) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:21PM (#7775608)
    Why don't we just call it what it is, a hardware license. If it works just until the warranty expires, then great, you got your money's worth. But if it lasts longer, say two whole years, then you make out like a bandit.
  • Wuh? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by the uNF cola (657200) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:22PM (#7775622)
    I've had an ipod for 2 years now. I use it so much, that I tend to have my battery lose power by the end of the day. When I'm at home, i usually have it hooked up and charging. Am I the one out of a million or something?
  • by jdreed1024 (443938) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:46PM (#7775783)
    A replacement battery for my cell phone cost $10; one for my cordless phone cost $10; Apple is presumably making a good deal of money on their $99 replacements.

    That's a stupid argument. Your cordless phone battery is probably NiCd or NiMH. Ditto for your cell phone battery. Those are old technologies and our dirt cheap at this point. The iPod battery is a Lithium-Polymer, which is much more expensive, even with wholesale prices. Is Apple making a profit? Probably. But the price of your cordless phone battery has nothing to do with it.

    Also, keep in mind that Apple is charging for installation. The battery is only $50 (as evidenced by the price you pay from suppliers), so $49 is for shipping and installation. Now, a hard drive is easy to install, right? So ask CompUSA how much they'll charge for installing one? Much more than it's worth, I'm sure.

  • by potuncle (583651) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @07:50PM (#7775802)
    ...ignore it. The worst thing you can do to a Lithium-ion battery is allow it to completely discharge. Allow a Lithium-ion battery completely discharge several times and it will have a signifigantly shorter life and lesser charge capacity.

    A Lithium-ion battery slowly looses its charge even when no power is being drawn from it. So when your iPod indicates that the battery is low, charge it. Don't let it sit around in a low-charge state, it will only discharge itself more. And remember that when an iPod is off, it is not really off, it goes into a sleep mode where it draws a minimal current from the battery.

    This won't be a problem for me since I can't go more that a couple of days without using my iPod. But if you leave your iPod sitting around (not charging) for a while, eventually the iPod will drain the battery until the battery level gets so low that the iPod actully turns fully off and then the battery will continue to loose charge because of the nature of Li-ion batteries.

  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Saturday December 20, 2003 @08:20PM (#7775986)
    From: das@doit.wisc.edu
    Subject: iPod story
    Date: December 20, 2003 6:18:37 PM CST
    To: stueverh@washpost.com

    I'm very disappointed with your iPod story, for several important reasons. If you only read one of the responses you get about this story, read this one:

    1. Apple began offering the battery replacement program as early as November 14, before the ipodsdirtysecret.com domain name was even registered (November 20). While coincidentally close, Apple released both the AppleCare Protection Plan for iPod and the battery replacement program BEFORE anyone had ever seen the videos, and indeed before anyone at Apple or otherwise knew anything about the Neistat brothers' video. A small - very small - amount of research would have revealed this. (Also, the battery program was in the works since at least June.) The reason this is important is that you make it seem that it's only because of the brothers' tactics that Apple responded, the implication being they otherwise wouldn't have. That is false.

    2. Since the battery replacement program - that the Neistat brothers themselves say is "fair" in their statement - was already in effect when they rolled out the video, they KNOWINGLY let almost a half million people see the incorrect and inaccurate video without telling them the truth: that Apple DID offer a battery replacement program. I'm sure they felt like their little video would be essentially negated since Apple already released a replacement program, so they went ahead with it anyway.

    3. ALL lithium ion batteries fail after a period of time. ALL. The fact that the iPod's battery is not user replaceable, i.e., is a custom form factor carefully engineered into the product, is one of the things that makes it so small, and thus, so desirable...tradeoffs.

    4. The Dell DJ's lithium ion battery is also not user-replaceable, and Dell officially has no repair or replacement plan (outside of warranty) for the battery.

    5. They are currently hosting their anti-Apple video on Mac.com - Apple's own servers! (albeit paid by another Mac.com user - yes, I realize that a Mac.com user can do whatever they want with their webspace; it's just ironic).

    6. I offered to host their video for them when they were begging for mirrors in the first few days...with ONE condition: that they post/link to/etc information about Apple's battery replacement program that had ALREADY BEEN ROLLED OUT that they were essentially denying existed. They NEVER posted the information after several promises to do so (while I was hosting the video) and taking complete advantage of my offer. See http://das.doit.wisc.edu/neistatoriginal.txt for proof of this.

    7. My girlfriend and I both - and thousands of others - have first gen iPods over two years old that have no problems with the battery. The blanket statement that the batteries only last "18 months" is also false. Do the have a finite lifetime? Yes. Is it always, or even mostly, 18 months? Nope.

    Disappointed,

    Dave Schroeder
    University of Wisconsin - Madison
    das@doit.wisc.edu
    http://das.doit.wisc.e du/
    608-265-4737
  • by Keith Mickunas (460655) on Saturday December 20, 2003 @08:21PM (#7775991) Homepage
    I've got an Archos Jukebox Recorder. It has a 20GB harddrive, digital output, can record, has replacable software so you can use open-source stuff on it, mounts as a USB harddrive using USB 2.0, and is powered by 4 AA NiMH batteries which give it lots of playing time.

    So what does the iPod do that makes it worth more and require a more expensive battery? Is it just the firewire? Is it better at playing MP3s? Seriously, I'd like to know. I've never used an iPod, never even seen one up close, but the Archos does a hell of a job and I don't understand why people are willing to spend so much more on an iPod.
  • Wow, what wusses. (Score:5, Informative)

    by thoughtcrime (524620) <{moc.bmob-krof} {ta} {ezos}> on Saturday December 20, 2003 @09:48PM (#7776433) Homepage
    It's a Li+ battery, good for around 500 charges. That's about 1.5yrs battery lifetime on your iPod if you use it every day, like I do.

    Recently, I did a battery replacement on my iPod. I wrote about it here [livejournal.com] in my journal.

    For people who claim to be all for working on your own hardware, you're all getting pretty bitchy about performing a five-minute, three step process.

    Oh, and my battery cost me half of what Apple is charging. So nyah.
  • Brand Sycophants (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mabu (178417) on Sunday December 21, 2003 @04:07PM (#7780875)
    I've never understood the "blind loyalty" issue with people and inanimate objects or companies.

    If you're an Apple fan, that's fine, but making excuses for any shortcoming of their products doesn't help your cause. It's the people that complain about deficiencies that are most-likely to get the company to resolve these issues. If the sycophants get uppity at the slightest mention of a flaw, they do themselves and the object of their affection a great disservice.

    This reminds me of another piece of audio equipment I purchased recently, and thought was very good. I found an online forum where enthusiasts discussed the product. When I discovered a bug in the product's firmware, a number of "locals" on the board engaged me in hostile argument that it wasn't a "bug." Eventually a rep from the company actually made a post and acknowledged the bug and promised to fix it in a future release. The sycophants harbored animosity towards me for not blindly, unconditionally accepting the product as it was. Think about this the next time something doesn't work right, and rally against the boneheads that harbor unconditional loyalty towards any corporate interest. It helps no one.

Mathemeticians stand on each other's shoulders while computer scientists stand on each other's toes. -- Richard Hamming

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