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Inevitable iPod post

September 29, 2005 ・ Blog

So Apple is once again at the mercy of the disgruntled hordes, this time for equipping its new iPod Nano with a fascia that scratches easily (oh, and there was a single batch (“1/10th of 1%” of all of them made, whatever that means) that the screen easily breaks on too).

Apple have suggested getting a cover to sort the scratches (which were available from third-party companies seemingly and incredibly days after the Nano was announced).

Acres of text has already been regurgitated over all this of course, but it throws up some interesting questions about having such a beautiful lustre on a device designed for everyday use. And it reminded me of my iPod cover-buying dilemma a year ago.

There were two options. With Apple’s official one you have to slide the iPod out of the cover every time you want to use it, which seemed really annoying. The other type stays on and has holes in or flips open to allow access to the scroll wheel and other bits. The most common of these permanent covers are made of transparent, coloured rubber and they’re horrible to touch, and they mean you don’t get to hold the iPod naked anymore.

It was the classic war of practicality against aesthetics: part of the iPod’s appeal is its haptic quality – the cool metal back and smooth front. I guess the Apple one was designed just so that touch element could be retained, much as it’s annoying as hell to use. With me, aesthetics won out.

Perhaps the quality of finish on iPods is actually a problem with their design. It’s almost as if the glossiness is primarily designed for the first moments of use, to instil the love that will get the sale and the years of caring use - until the battery wears out. But it causes so much pain, both for its owners and Apple’s PR.

But maybe this issue actually highlights something deeper in people’s relationships with things. If you like something, you want to care for it and ensure it comes to no harm – and with that comes the stress and worry when harm inevitably comes. I could have bought a cheaper mp3 player, one with more features that didn’t inspire such feelings, but I didn’t.

So maybe in those lattices of fine scratches and the occasional deeper one are encoded a history of care, something more than just practicality.

That said, if you do want to get rid of the scratches, you can always use Brasso