The blogosphere has gone nuts about Apple’s recent upgrades to iTunes 7.0 and the iPod update to version 1.2. Quite frankly, I am also going a little nuts here. Like many Apple nuts, I downloaded the new version of iTunes as soon as my little PowerBook alerted me to the fact of its existence. I also swooned at the all the pretty UI changes and clicked on "Yes, please upgrade my iPod too" buttons. Unfortunately Apple has really let me down this time around. Version 1.2 has proven to be most problematic and there are numerous, similar reports of iPod problems after the firmware upgrade on the Apple Support site.
The problem I have been experiencing with my beloved iPod (and which is only one of the many problems experienced by iPod users since updating their firmware to version 1.2) is that my iPod unceremoniously crashes and reboots when I select certain podcasts to listen to. I haven’t seen much indication that Apple is dealing with this problem (and all the others) aside from the fact that the update seems to have been removed from the download site. The updates provided for on the downloads page of the support site mention upgrades to version 1.1.2 for the iPod and not version 1.2. Hopefully this is a sign that Apple is aware of the problem and is working on a patch. For the time being I have had to re-format my iPod and add all my media back on to it. iTunes is working hard to restore my iPod to its former glory and I am holding thumbs, toes and all things good and pure in the hope that my iPod will crash no more.
This latest set of problems point to a bigger issue: Apple has failed us big time.
One of the catch phrases that has been used to sell Apple products and their computers in particular is that Apple products "just work" (or something along those lines). Since the launch of the MacBook Pro we have seen problems with Apple products that never existed before. First the MacBook Pros run so hot they could apparently burn bare skin. Next the new MacBooks discolour and shutdown for no reason and possibly even run too hot themselves. Both issues appear to be attributable to shoddy manufacturing techniques (including the misapplication of thermal paste). Now as version 7.0 of iTunes is launched (and with it, updates to iPod firmware), there is a host of new problems. One issue which is also cause for concern is that some of the features present in the iPods. I can’t imagine that there is a good reason for this. The one issue I am referring to is the fact that even with the new firmware update, older 5th generation iPods lack the search function introduced in the updated 5th generation iPod. This, to me, is just silly. The feature is certainly no reason for me to rush off and buy a new one. I am going to wait for the 6th generation iPod – the next major update. This failure just exhibits a poor judgment call vis a vis older iPod owners.
Apple used to be synonymous with excellent quality products that just work. If I wanted a device that crashed randomly I could have stuck with a Windows based machine. I rely on the Mac platform for my lifestyle and business because it is a cool platform and because it does what it is supposed to do when it is supposed to do it. What Apple is doing is ruining that image of its products and marginalising its users and potential users. With the Microsoft’s Zune coming out in the near future, Apple is going to be hard-pressed to maintain its dominance in this space if it does not deal with issues like this more proactively.
As for me, well I have restored my iPod’s firmware to version 1.1.2 and I will wait for a further update to fix the latest firmware update before moving up to the next version.