Amidst the epidemic of Apple-worship and worldwide infatuation with I-products, it seems Apple can do no wrong and Steve Jobs is a modern-day prophet. The masses, so thoroughly brainwashed by shrewd advertising and trendy gadgets, have failed to notice Apple has monopolized a very important aspect of our lives—music. Never before have music consumers been so enslaved.

The author found himself deep in this dilemma when he searched for a new music player after his 4th Ipod expired. Yes, he owned 4 Ipods that all died from natural causes—not from user-error or misuse. Like before, he found himself intimidated by the trickiness of converting Itunes music files so they’ll play on non-Apple players, and the bothersome fact that non-Apple music players aren’t recognized by Itunes, which houses his entire music collection. Without a choice, he purchased a fifth Ipod and bought a 3-year warranty to cover the new player’s seemingly inevitable early death.

Why does everyone tolerate Apple’s music player monopoly? What if, for example, Apple decided to make an I-camera for use with their Iphoto application? There would be a massive uproar if Iphoto only recognized the I-camera and cameras from other manufacturers were excluded. People would freak, no matter how hip, slick and cool a digital camera made by Apple would be, but somehow it’s OK when Apple owners have zero freedom to use other music players.

Yes, Ipods are cool, especially the new Ipod touch, but their reliability is questionable. Why else would Apple have an “Ipod Recycling Program” at Apple stores in which a whopping 10% discount is given toward the purchase of a “new Ipod” when one fails after Apple’s warranty expires. How about a 10% discount on a new music player of my choice rather than Steve Jobs’?

Why are Ipods so unreliable? The answer is that they simply don’t have to be reliable because Apple has cornered the market (owners of Apple computers) and eliminated competitors. Remember the days of the Sony Sports Walkman? The author had one back in the eighties that was literally indestructible. It would seem that Ipods, with flash memory and few moving parts—if any—would surely last longer than a cassette tape player with motors, cams and gears continually exposed to dust and dirt when tapes are repeatedly inserted and ejected. Sony made their walkmans super-reliable, and as a result were a big hit because they were the “tanks” of the portable cassette player landscape in the mid-to-late eighties. Their reliability more than made up for their lack of bling and nifty features.

The new Ipod Touch is a very cool and innovative gizmo, as were the author’s previous Ipods when introduced by Apple. However, it would nice to see alternatives to the Apple player, occupying different positions in the form vs. function spectrum, giving the consumer freedom and forcing Apple to make their products even better. Perhaps even the staunchest IBM freak would finally make the switch if Apple weren’t preceded by the words— people’s republic of.

As a figurative slap in the face, the new Ipod touch has a stock market monitoring application that gives you four bits of data—the Dow Jones Index and the stock prices of Apple, Yahoo, and Google (with Apple at the top of the list, of course). This info is about as significant to 99.9% of new Ipod owners as the weather in Cupertino, which is also included in the gizmo’s default setting. Perhaps Apple should also include the small-yet-significant increase Apple Corp’s stock price at the moment you purchase your new Ipod.

Perhaps Apple’s choice to disallow outside competition inside their music player market was brought on by fear that people will leave Apple if given the choice. In this sense, Apple is much like an insecure boyfriend or girlfriend, always fearful of being left behind, never believing in his or her own attractiveness to their partner. Clearly, Apple products are attractive to the world and would sell just fine in the face of competition from other manufacturers—this has been proven undeniably.

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