Apple Backlash

While iPods are still a hit, some users complain of faulty batteries.

BY WARREN COHEN

February 5, 2004

Apple sold 730,000 iPod players during the holiday season –and more than 2 million since its introduction in late 2001. But the iPod isn’t perfect: Some people are complaining about players that freeze, crash or break.

The main issue is the battery, which is supposed to give the iPod eight hours of music playback before it needs recharging. Last month, a San Francisco law firm filed a class action suit against Apple, alleging violations of consumer-protection laws for misrepresenting the iPod’s battery power. Other iPod users are taking matters into their own hands. Casey Neistat, a New York artist, saw his battery life shrink to just under an hour. In anger, his brother Van filmed a Web movie of him defacing Apple ad posters with slogans criticizing the battery power.

Apple denies any iPod durability problems. Greg Joswiak, Apple’s vice president of hardware product marketing, says that while the player’s lithium ion battery degrades over time, performance should only dip to 80 percent of capacity at worst.

Still, in late 2003, Apple announced it would replace faulty iPod batteries after the one-year warranty expires for ninety-nine dollars and offer a two-year warranty for fifty-nine dollars.

Apple is now facing competition. A new portable digital-music player by Dell, for instance, costs fifty dollars less than the comparable iPod and boasts double the battery life. Apple is responding by introducing smaller iPod Minis in multiple colors that hold 1,000 songs for $249.