Apple: the good, the bad and the ugly.

My son has an 5th generation iPod. The other day he came in a little annoyed as the headphone socket had broken. When he checked the receipt, it was about five days past the twelve month warranty period. I suggested that he should go to the Apple store and see what they could do for him.

I went along for support, and to have a play with the latest toys. The good thing is that I do like the apply gear from an aesthetic point of view. They give a good impression of being well engineered products. The new metal cases are really cool. A quick play with the new iPod touch was fun. The interface worked well, and as a portable web browser, it was quite neat. That was all good.

For those who have not entered into an Apple store, and this was only my second time, it is not arranged like a conventional shop. The majority of the space is for product display, with lots of units setup and working to play with. At the back of the store is the rather cheesy named ‘Genius Bar’, where tech support can be had. To make a purchase, it would seem that you can talk to one of the assistants wearing a portable till in a holster. All very ‘Open Plan’.

When we got there, it was a bit busy. We spoke to one of the assistants, who then logged onto one of the demo computers, and made an appointment at the Genius Bar. Twenty minutes later, we were talking to one of the in store Genius’. He scanned the bar code from the original box and confirmed that it was now ten days since the warranty had run out. I was just about to get ready to start having a moan, when he added that as a general rule, if it is within fourteen days of the warranty running out, they will honor it. Result. That was good!

So far, from this experience, I should want to get some apple gear. But I can’t, for a number of reasons. I have often thought that I would like an iPod, but as I use Linux, there is no official support from Apple for this operating system. Until recently, it may have not been such a problem, as third party developers have provided a solution. Now with the latest range of products, it appears that Apple made a deliberate effort to raise the bar for these third part tools.

I know that one of the great features with Apple gear that it all just works together. For those that want the full Apple experience, this is great. Plug your iPod, iPhone or whatever into your Mac, and off you go. But for me, I don’t want Mac, nor do I want to run Windows. Therefore, I will only ever have a second rate experience with any Apple music player or other device. Having to rely on third part support is not good, it is bad, maybe even ugly.