Rotten Apple

"We're proud to announce the iMiller, which will feature ball-bearing joints, an LCD facial display, a rechargeable lithium-ion heart and wireless earbuds installed in each cochlea. Plus, it's fully iTunes compatible."

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I want Steve Jobs to design my first child. Or I used to, anyway.

I’m on my second Apple laptop, my fourth iPod, and my first iPhone. I visit daily to see what Apple’s cooking up. I clear my schedule so I can watch every Apple keynote speech live (including the upcoming address on January 27, where Jobs is expected to give the first glimpse of Apple’s highly anticipated tablet.) I worship in the Church of Apple.

Imagine my shock when I started having issues with my most recent iPod, the third-generation Shuffle.

The in-line remote for the third-generation iPod Shuffle is perhaps Apple's biggest gaffe as a company.

It was the No. 1 item on my Christmas list for the reason you might expect: It’s ridiculously small and perfect for working out. My previous iPod — the second-generation nano — was boosted from my car back in September. It, too, was a great size for working out and running. However, when I needed a replacement iPod, I went for Apple’s $60 alternative. It’s small enough to lose in your pocket, holds 500 songs and, impressively, uses an in-line remote where users can control their music and volume without fumbling with the iPod itself.

One minor problem with the iPod Shuffle’s in-line remote: It can’t handle moisture. Like, none. Here’s an iPod perfectly engineered for working out and working up a sweat. The only problem is once sweat begins to run down the cord of the earbuds and into the remote, things go seriously awry.

In my case, the moment I break a sweat, the volume on my iPod goes down, little by little. Then, the voiceover feature — which announces the song and artist when the remote is pressed and held — begins to repeat over and over. The volume becomes nearly inaudible, and I hear a male robotic voice repeat “YOU. MAKE. MY. DREAMS. COME. TRUE. BY. HALL. AND. OATES.” a dozen times before I come to terms with the reality Apple has seriously violated my trust.

This is where it starts. Tiger Woods runs into a fire hydrant. Barry Bonds claims he didn’t know what he was taking. Mariah Carey stars in Glitter. Tom Cruise jumps on a couch.  Chris Brown punches Rihanna. James Frey admits he fudged some details. Britney Spears beats an SUV with an umbrella. Bill Clinton denies sexual relations. Apple creates a faulty iPod.

All good things come to an end, right? It’s only a matter of time before something once thought perfect shows its single flaw. I’ve invested roughly $6,000 in Apple products because I stand by the company and I believe they make the best computers, MP3 players and smartphones. I could stroll on over to the Apple Store just a few blocks from my apartment, raise a fuss and demand a refund. Instead, I’ve gone all MacGyver on my headphones, securing the vulnerable in-line remote with Saran wrap and rubber bands. My iPod Shuffle doesn’t look as sleek and sexy as intended, but now it is fully functional and damn near waterproof.

Sometimes, it’s about making the most of a less than desirable situation. No one — and nothing — is perfect. In this case, it’s about not letting one rotten Apple product spoil the whole bunch.

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