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[greenyes] Throwaway IPOD

Excerpted from an article by Hank Stuever in the 12/20/03 Washington Post
(forwarded by David Flora):

Casey Neistat is a 22-year-old multimedia artist who lives in Lower
Manhattan, so it almost goes without saying that he's got an Apple iPod,
and that he loves it. But his love was tested when his iPod went cold, and
he could not bring it back to life.

It is the essential talisman of our yoga-tech times: Ownership of an iPod -
a credit-card-size, white-and-metallic digital music player - has grown a
bit culty, especially when people talk about how it has completely changed
their inner musical lives. An iPodder has a telltale white cord coming from
his coat pocket to his ears and walks around in a kind of perpetually happy
glaze, with his entire music collection - as many as 10,000 songs - going
with him. According to Apple, there are about 1.4 million iPods in current
use worldwide.

Neistat bought his iPod in early 2002, not long after Apple introduced it.
In late October, 2003 - after about 18 months of use - the rechargeable
lithium-ion battery in Casey Neistat's iPod would no longer work. When he
contacted Apple, in person at their New York store and several times over
the phone, he got the run-around.

This is when Neistat and his brother Van made a two-minute, guerrilla-style
film about deceit and revenge called "iPod's Dirty Secret" and put it on
the Internet, where nearly 1 million people have seen it. It starts with
Casey Neistat calling Apple's tech support and explaining his battery
problem to someone named Ryan. He is told by Ryan that, since his iPod is
past the year-long warranty, the cost of parts, labor and shipping will
nearly equal the cost of a new machine. So, Ryan suggests, Neistat should
probably just relax and buy a new iPod, which currently costs from $299 to
$499, depending on the memory size. The Neistats' funky but wrathful movie
( ends with scenes of Casey strolling
around Manhattan, spray-painting dozens of Apple's pretty pastel iPod
posters with the stenciled warning, ""iPod's Unreplaceable Battery Lasts
Only 18 Months."

Days after the movie made the rounds, Apple announced expanded warranties
for new iPod owners to purchase for $59, and also introduced a new $99
battery-replacement mail-in service for others. Apple officially denies
that the brothers' movie had anything to do with the new battery price. In
fact, says Natalie Sequeira, an Apple spokeswoman, the longer warranty and
replacement price have been in the works for a few months.

When you buy an iPod, nothing in the fine print of the owner's manual
prepares you for the eventual, final power drain, or gives you any estimate
of how far down the road death awaits. This appears to be less an omission
or deceit on Apple's part and more of a callous assumption: All electronics
go to heaven, kids. Apple and other manufacturers are carefully pushing
consumers further away from the battery age, when consumers could try to
fix broken things, or replace their power sources.

Anyone who wears disposable contact lenses knows how these things evolve:
At first, having lived through the days of crawling on hands and knees in
shag carpeting looking for a lost contact lens, you cannot immediately
adapt to a future in which we now blissfully wash month-old contact lenses
down the drain. After a while it doesn't seem like such a costly tragedy.
People now spend a few hundred dollars every other year or so on disposable
lenses, but it took a slight mental shift to get there.

Same with electronics: Cell phone owners can replace their lithium
batteries with relative ease, since phones are designed for batteries that
snap on and off, but many consumers opt instead to get a newer, cooler,
smaller phone at that point. (The iPod, by its irresistible design, is
sealed tight like an alien spaceship from the Planet Groovy, with no
visible seams or openings.) Laptop computers, meanwhile, almost seem born
with a genetic disposition to chronic fatigue syndrome when it comes to the
life span of their rechargeable batteries. To own one is to immediately
suspect that something is wrong with the spark in the relationship; indeed,
things are petering out faster and faster. Televisions and VCRs have been
showing up in people's weekly trash for years - no one even stops to
examine them or salvage them.

Some of the e-mail the Neistat Brothers received after they made "iPod's
Dirty Secret" came from people who were quick to tell them "that we're
(bleeping) imbeciles, (because) you can buy a battery online and do it
yourself," Casey says. The brothers already tried that, but it didn't work.
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." But the beat went on, and that's what
counts most in a world gone iPod.

Karen Hales
Recycling/Solid Waste Specialist

919-462-3873 voice
919-469-4304 fax

"Make everyday America Recycles Day!"

 Please Note
Email addresses for everyone at the Town of Cary are now:
first name <dot> last name at townofcary <dot> org.
For example: John.Staffer@no.address

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