The Internet and Lousy PR

The recent fracas over the iPod's apparently irreplaceable battery is an illustration of the democratic power of the Internet, and how quickly corporations need to react. In short, an iPod owner called Apple to complain that his MP3 player's battery was useless after only eighteen months. The Apple support tech offered "it's past its year which basically means there'll be a charge of $255, plus a mailing fee...to send it to us... but at that price, you know, you might as well go get a new one." Unfortunately for Apple, the user recorded the conversation and posted a video of it and some follow-up anti-Apple guerilla action on http://www.ipodsdirtysecret.com. Apple eventually (too late in my opinion) responded by reducing the charge from $255 for a refurbished iPod with fresh battery to $100 for a new battery. That's still too much for something the consumer normally goes down to the local electronics store to replace.

The real lesson here, though, is that the Internet, and weblogs in particularly, made this story what it is. It's been in the top 10 of Blogdex for a few days now. Since then, it's been picked up by Kuro5hin, Slashdot and, eventually, the mainstream tech media. All because of a design that doesn't enable the user to replace the battery, and a free-speaking tech support clerk.