Battery Brothers not so interested in truth
January 5, 2004 10:01 AM   Subscribe

We've all, I'm sure by now, seen the movie two brothers made about thier iPod's "unreplaceable battery" and them broadcasting the movie they made of thier tech support call, and their defacing apple posters, to the four winds. We may have even read the article that came out over the weekend giving/taking credit for the introduction of the battery replacement program for ipods from Apple as a result of thier movie. (Here's one for 1/2 the price from other people that you can do yourself). So why doesn't the brother's movie site have this info? Are they just out for the publicity? This series of emails seems to prove that, as well as proving the pair of being ungrateful bastids.
posted by Dome-O-Rama (43 comments total)

In response to this my brother Van and I made the short film "iPod's Dirty Secret" After we finished production of the film, but not necessarily in response to it, Apple began offerring a battery replacement program for the ipod for a fee of $99 and an extended warranty for the ipod for $59.

We think Apple's new policy is fair. Our movie is a documentation of our experience.

This is on their site, linked from the giant link right above the movie. So uh, they do mention Apple's program.
posted by mikeh at 10:15 AM on January 5, 2004

In my mind, all that the series of emails proves is that Dave Schroeder is incredibly irritating.
posted by eastlakestandard at 10:21 AM on January 5, 2004

I might add that in the series of emails linked, Mr. Schroeder mentions that he will host their movie based on the contingency that they add the links. He then received the information, tells them they have errors, (showing he did look at the content) and then hosts it anyway. The guys really did prove to be assholes who were just using him for bandwidth -- which he provided. Neither party is being very responsible here.

It sounds like they had no plan to inform viewers of their site that there was a solution and go so far as to call putting such information up "contradictory." I would like to think that people could understand a change in policy. They probably could have gotten even more attention if they'd gone at it from the angle that they helped spurn the change.

So in closing, the brothers are jerks who don't really understand how to use the situation to their advantage to get more attention (and apparently suck at HTML), and Dave Schroeder was way too trusting and generous with his bandwidth.
posted by mikeh at 10:27 AM on January 5, 2004

I don't see how they should be responsible for promoting Apple's program. Apple essentially tried to screw them and they went public about it. Plain and simple. The fact that Apple took notice and changed their policy only shows that these brothers did the right thing by calling attention to it in the first place. Apple is fully capable of advertising new programs by themselves.
posted by Raichle at 11:16 AM on January 5, 2004

In any case they screwed Apple out of far more than $250.
posted by sudama at 11:27 AM on January 5, 2004

I don't see how Apple got 'screwed' out of any money. What they were doing was exploiting their customers and they were called on it. It probably costs them near to nothing to replace those batteries.
posted by Raichle at 11:29 AM on January 5, 2004

I have a 2 year old, original iPod and the battery still works fine. There is nothing wrong with the iPod battery.
posted by scalz at 11:39 AM on January 5, 2004

"It probably costs them near to nothing to replace those batteries."

Why do you think it costs them near to nothing? It's become painfully clear that replacing the battery is not a trivial undertaking. When an iPod is sent to Apple for servicing, some tech still has to unpackage it, enter its details into their database, open the iPod up, replace the battery, put it back together, test it, repackage it, and mail it out. Even if they are particularly skilled this is going to take some amount of time, which has to be paid for. And of course there's the cost of the battery itself. I don't know how this cost compares to what they actually charge, but it certainly isn't near to nothing.

Personally I think this this story has been blow way out of proportion. Hopefully some good can be salvaged from it by prompting Apple to address the issue in the next-gen iPod.
posted by bhorling at 11:44 AM on January 5, 2004

[the neistat brothers are annoying]

Aaorn, that's funny.
posted by carter at 11:58 AM on January 5, 2004

I'm not talking about cost of replacing the batteries, I'm talking about the cost of the misinformation. I've talked to half a dozen people who decided not to buy an iPod this Christmas because "there's something wrong with the batteries".

The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate. / He pounds, with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate.
posted by sudama at 11:59 AM on January 5, 2004

apple sucks, in any case.
posted by kaibutsu at 12:04 PM on January 5, 2004

From Apple's battery replacement page:
NOTE: iPod equipment that is sent in for battery service or service requiring other repairs will be replaced with functionally equivalent new, used, or refurbished iPod equipment. You will not receive the same iPod that was sent in for service.
So they will send you a totally different iPod (which may be used or refurbed) then the one you send in.
posted by timothompson at 12:31 PM on January 5, 2004

I'm sorry I still think they are ungrateful bastids.

That kinda bandwidth they should have sent Dave Schroeder a cookie basket taped to a hooker.
posted by Dome-O-Rama at 12:36 PM on January 5, 2004

kaibutsu, that was relevant.

I've been using my iPod for the last year and a half and wouldn't even consider another mp3 player. It works perfectly, meshes with iTunes and the battery hasn't given me any trouble at all.

The brothers had a good idea when they started the project but it has since turned into a publicity crusade. Apple addressed the issue and will move on, I don't think the same can be said of the brothers.

Don't like Apple? Then don't buy Apple. Pretty simple.
posted by fenriq at 12:37 PM on January 5, 2004

Metafilter: a cookie basket taped to a hooker.
posted by pmurray63 at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2004

a cookie basket taped to a hooker

Guess I picked a bad time to go on a lo-carb diet
posted by ElvisJesus at 1:19 PM on January 5, 2004

Why do Ipod zombies get so worked up when anyone dares question the bona fides of their shiny toys? It reminds me of Mac zealots of old - I guess Apple attracts a certain category of consumers...
posted by meehawl at 1:25 PM on January 5, 2004

My mobile phone has a user-replaceable rechargable battery; the iPod battery issue is a major design flaw.

Face it, the electronics vendor you heart so much, is just as crap as many others.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:32 PM on January 5, 2004

Metafilter - a hooker basket taped to a cookie.
posted by Blue Stone at 1:34 PM on January 5, 2004

Oh Jesus, here we go with the usual insanity: "My iPod works." -> "Why do iPod zombies get so worked up?" WTF?

For what it's worth, my iPod works too -- though I have a story about it, which is that about a year ago (I have a very 1st gen 5GB) the battery did start to fail. I took it to the Apple store in SoHo NYC, and was one of several people in line with iPods getting only one or two hours of battery life.

The tech guy at the store acknowledged that there was a problem, but said that most of the problems could be fixed with a firmware upgrade (which turned out to be true). He did tell me, however, that if the upgrade didn't fix the battery problem, I could bring the iPod back to the store and he would just give me a new one, even if it wasn't under warranty, which seemed awfully nice to me. I certainly didn't get the impression that Apple were being bastards. When I went back to the rep the next day he still offered to exchange my iPod before I told him that the battery seemed to be fixed.

Not a very exciting story, I suppose. It is a tad irritating to have a random electronic device you own become the center of a storm of controversy created out of thin air by two pseudo-chic faux-bohemian 'artists' from the Village. There's no need to label everyone who likes their iPod and finds the controversy irritating a 'zealot' -- everyone needs to take a chill pill on this one.
posted by josh at 1:38 PM on January 5, 2004

Why do Ipod zombies get so worked up when anyone dares question the bona fides of their shiny toys? It reminds me of Mac zealots of old - I guess Apple attracts a certain category of consumers...

Yes, those who love the products they spend their hard-earned money on, as opposed to those who tolerate what is thrust upon them no matter how bad the product is. Yep, we're all racoon-like zombies who just like shiny things.

I am a recent switcher, and I love my Mac. And I sure hope that Apple announces the US$100ish iPod tomorrow!
posted by terrapin at 1:40 PM on January 5, 2004

Interesting technology, polarized sides, hyperbole - it just gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Who'da thunk so many folks would get this excited over this decade's Walkman?

And, Dome-O-Rama, while I don't quite agree with your position, I bow before the phrase "...a cookie basket taped to a hooker." I'll be adding that to next year's Christmas list.
posted by FormlessOne at 1:54 PM on January 5, 2004

If anything, this points to a flaw in the ipod design that they should have been aware of. Why on earth would you design a product that runs on a battery that is near to impossible to replace? Consumers should be aware of this, becuase if it happened to one person, it will happen to another. Just because some of you have ipods that have lasted for a long time does not mean that they all do. It's faulty research methods.
posted by Raichle at 2:04 PM on January 5, 2004

If anything, this points to a flaw in the ipod design that they should have been aware of. Why on earth would you design a product that runs on a battery that is near to impossible to replace?

Compactness? Apple isn't the only one to make electronic gadgets with only an internal battery. The recent Palm handhelds that I've seen all only have internal unreplaceable batteries.
posted by gyc at 2:08 PM on January 5, 2004

It's also not 'impossible' to change, just more difficult than a couple of AAAs.

For those who feel ripped off, think of how many AAA batteries you would have gone through in the 18 months if you didn't have the internal rechargable battery.
posted by drobot at 2:41 PM on January 5, 2004

Well, IMO it was dumb of Apple not to make the battery easily replaceable. I doubt that it was cleverly rapacious, though anyone's free to feel differently.

Raichle, true, just because it hasn't happened to me doesn't mean it won't happen to someone else. But, I don't know anyone else to whom it's happened, and I know a lot of people with iPods. There are two things that are lame about this whole hubbub: first, that the guys with their video are self-righteous lame-o's and publicity whores, and are being rewarded for it, which sucks, and second, that people who get off on being anti-Apple and people who get off on being pro-Apple are getting each other off left and right over it. You can't turn the corner (viz. this thread) without seeing something gross.

It seems a little ridiculous (and a little telling) that no one is freaking out that Palm's Tungsten series (as gyc points out) lack replaceable batteries. That's not to say that that's not stupid -- my old Sony MD recorder had replaceable batteries and was super-small, and companies should look out for their customers. But no one has accused Palm of being evil and mediocre, and no one freaks out at me when I say that I like my Palm despite its non-replaceable battery. No one in MetaFilter is screaming "chump!" in my face, because, like normal, adjusted children, they don't care about my PDA. Thank goodness.

If anything, this iPod fracas, which is a frivolous, meaningless, absurd, self-indulgent waste of time for a lot of people, particularly those who shouldn't even care because they don't own iPods, ought to serve as a wake-up call to all you haters out there who, for some reason, really care a lot about other people's MP3 players. This whole thing is silly and people should save their freak-out juice for times when it's actually important, like when they hand over control of our military to artificially intelligent computers.
posted by josh at 2:43 PM on January 5, 2004

Josh - For such a self-indulgent wast of time, you sure wrote a lot about it.

Just kidding - I don't mean to sound too snarky, I just think it's funny that in addition to the pro/anti Apple zealots, there are also anti-Appple zealot zealots.

I'm on the fence - I think IPods are great, but don't have an Apple computer. I would gladly switch to another MP3 player if mine was broken and I found one as small and easy-to-use, but I think they pretty much came out with a well designed device.
posted by drobot at 3:06 PM on January 5, 2004

Ha, I am definitely both an anti-Apple-zealot zealot, and an anti-anti-Apple-zealot zealot (I think). Someone has to draw the line somewhere! It is getting ridiculous!

I think someone should found an organization which promotes, like, peace between the two platforms. I remember, in middle school, arguing about this exact same junk. Back in the day you could argue about the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, which was a lot cooler, but nooooooo, my life has to be saturated with stupid computer zealotry . . . .
posted by josh at 3:21 PM on January 5, 2004

I dare to speak out. My iPod (5GB 1st generation old skool) battery lasts about an hour tops. Shocking, I know. But I only use it in my car and leave it plugged in to a firewire charger constantly, so it's probably my fault anyways.
posted by ejoey at 4:21 PM on January 5, 2004

those who love the products...

Because stuff needs love too.
posted by Eamon at 4:43 PM on January 5, 2004

i own an ipod. i think it's a great product, but i'd rather not have it end up like ejoey's... is that so bad?
posted by lotsofno at 4:43 PM on January 5, 2004

I'm an apple technician at a fairly large Apple reseller. We've sold hundreds if not thousands of iPods and of all those iPods, we've only had maybe a dozen or less come back with dead batteries. It's much more common to have the hard drive fail or the battery gradually lose it's charge, like ejoey's. It's a pretty hardy device, all-in-all.

Now, G5s and iBook displays...that's another story completely.
posted by fatbobsmith at 5:43 PM on January 5, 2004

what's wrong with the G5s? (people using them to grate cheese or something?)
posted by amberglow at 5:55 PM on January 5, 2004

Funny that you mentioned it. After almost year my iBook's screen became very finicky and finally refused to turn on. Apple was awesome about fixing it though. They sent an overnight box, I sent it out, and got it back the next day, fixed. The DVD drive on my G5 catches the case from time to time too. Otherwise, I think they are both awesome products.
posted by ejoey at 6:12 PM on January 5, 2004

almost a year, rather.
posted by ejoey at 6:16 PM on January 5, 2004

I think the beef most anti-Apple/iPod people have is that many iPod users are so adamant about their iPod allegiance. When you consider the *newer* offerings from Creative, iRiver, and Rio, all the iPod has left going for it is style. When someone says they wouldn't consider another player after using their iPod, that's just being an ignorant consumer. The iPod competitors have all made huge improvements (more than Apple) since the first iPod was released and was clearly king of the hill...

Then again, what do I know. I don't have USB 2.0 on my computer, and my FireWire plug is constantly plugged to my HD, so I don't use an HD portable... my Creative Nomad MuVo NX 256 is awesome though.
posted by swank6 at 6:35 PM on January 5, 2004

Just to chime in with more anecdotal evidence, I turned my two-year-old 5GB original iPod on yesterday at 8am and left it running all day long. It finally stopped eleven hours later. I couldn't believe it. I'm not a particularly light user and I haven't taken any special precautions to prolong the battery life. I guess if there's a bell curve for iPod batteries, I'm glad to be at the far end of it.
posted by web-goddess at 7:39 PM on January 5, 2004

posted by Dome-O-Rama at 1:29 AM on January 6, 2004

"Ungratefull bastards"? You really need to get your head out of apples' ass.

These guys ended up getting another Ipod to replace the one with the dead battery (after attempting to replace the battery themselves failed. This was before the program). And so while the replacement plan may help some, it didn't help them. What exactly do they have to be "greatful" for?

But I assume we should all bow down to our corporate masters and be greateful for whatever breadcrums they throw us, right?
posted by delmoi at 4:14 AM on January 6, 2004

But I only use it in my car and leave it plugged in to a firewire charger constantly, so it's probably my fault anyways.

Um, it's not your fault.
posted by delmoi at 4:17 AM on January 6, 2004

Side note, Apple introduces iPod Minis. No word on how easy it is to replace the batteries in the new models but they sure are pretty.
posted by fenriq at 11:26 AM on January 6, 2004

Funny thing about consumerism and products but occasionally, in our time and from our own hands, someone makes a thing that is undeniably a fine effort. Whether some things become overrated I can not say but I can see that among our kind are those who react negatively to such successes -- such that can be physical objects, brilliant performances or amazing creations. Is it unreasonable for someone to get jazzed about the tool they use as being the best ever made? That their phone has a user interface that can not be beat? To then show disdain for other items that hope to supplant those earlier successes? Maybe. But I would offer for those who are interested in the creative act, the successes of design and performance, that they are reacting well within a range of acceptable values as are those who rail against it. /slinks off to look once more upon a particularly nice Japanese saw hanging on the wall.
posted by Dick Paris at 1:17 PM on January 6, 2004

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