Longtime Mac Users Punished for Loyalty

by Catherine Shaffer on 18 February 2008 47 comments
Photo: Shaymus22

I'm an unapologetic Mac-junkie. I've got an old, dead Mac laptop that I can't bear to part with from 1996. Our iMac is still up and running, having recently been put out to pasture after a disk drive malfunction. I eagerly bought one of the early iPods, and still use it all the time. And I'm writing to you now from my G4 Cube, which was a gift from a friend years ago. I've watched other Mac lovers fall away from the True Faith, one-by-one, but I never thought it would happen to me. However, yesterday when we brought home the newest addition to our Mac family, an 80 Gb iPod Classic, it would be my turn to be disillusioned. After you pay the hefty $249 price tag, plus an extra $30 for a wall charger (they used to bundle those in for free), plus $55 for the composite AV cable for your TV, plus any other little extras you may need, there is a hidden cost that blows up in your face when you get it home.

In short, the new iPods are not compatible with any operating system before OS 10.4.8. There's a good discussion of the problem here. Basically, if you don't have a newer operating system, you have to buy it before you can use your iPod. If you can't run the newest OS, Leopard, you need to call Apple tech support and they'll graciously sell you the outdated and obsolete Tiger for $129. You can imagine what I said to this gracious offer, after plunking down $350 for the device.

In a way, I should have seen it coming. I had recently spent several hours trying to get my brother-in-law's two new iPods (shuffle and nano) to sync with his PC. But I assumed that it was a Mac/PC thing, and that it could never happen to me. And yet it did. My computer stubbornly refused to recognize the device.

Now, I've seen the criticism that some of those True Believers have directed at those of us disillusioned ones, left behind by the shiny new OS's. We should have read the system requirements on the box.. I admit it. I didn't. There are two reasons for that. One is that after so many years of being able to count on my computer to handle a variety of devices without complaint, it simply never occurred to me. The iPod is a standalone device. All I need my computer to do is exchange data with it. And since my computer has no problem running the newest versions of iTunes and Quicktime, I never expected that there would be any compatibility issues. Moreover, it's become standard and expected for all of these handheld devices to connect to any computer via USB cable. I would never think to check for system requirements for my digital camera or my cell phone.

The other reason is more practical. I never got my hands on the box until I paid for it. We had extensive conversations with the salespeople, in which compatibility never came up, then they unlocked a cabinet, took a box out, and carried it to a cash register. I don't blame them for this. I think they were under the influence of the Mac "it just works" mind-control field as much as I was. Neither do I blame them for not handing me the box and letting me wander around the store with it.

Ultimately, Apple has failed to provide a technical justification for this. The technical support representative made it sound like it was a law of nature or something. "You can't make a device be compatible with an older computer," she said. Sort of like you can't make a zebra be friends with a crocodile? Huh? Wtf? This is obviously just an old-fashioned wallet grab. I can see the marketing execs, in their board room, poring over numbers representing people who were still using older versions of Macs and operating systems. "What if we could force them to buy a new operating system with their iPod? Better yet, maybe they'll decide after all that trouble to buy a new computer. What a slam dunk!"

In fact, I suspect not merely a failure to support the older OS, but some kind of deliberate cloaking of the device, forcing it to be invisible to the older OS. Why else would the computer not even be able to see that there is something plugged into its USB port? And if that's the case, perchance this nasty little easter egg is also turning on accidentally with certain other computers and operating systems, which might explain why my brother-in-law's children were unable to use the iPods they received for Christmas on their PC.

What all of this comes down to, for me, is that I am tired of the platform wars. Enough is enough already. I'm tired of manufacturers trying to force me to buy equipment I don't want and need, or pointless "upgrades" (I shudder to think of my old cube trying to run a bloated newer operating system), just so that I can listen to a song, or download TV shows from iTunes (which, by the way, I was planning to do extensively). I'm tired of trying to exchange text files with people who have some subtly different document format, and seeing all of my formatting turned into gibberish. I'm tired of declaring loyalty to one manufacturer or another just because I bought their product.

When I take my car in for repairs, the mechanic never tells me that my older model car is "no longer supported," or that my new tires are incompatible with my older chassis. I am not forced to stop using my refrigerator because my new food is suddenly incompatible with it. And while I'm on the subject, I don't understand why I need a desktop or a laptop computer at all to use my iPod or my other smart devices. Has no one ever thought of making an ethernet or wireless adapter so that we can download our tunes directly from the internet? Of course not! Because then people might decide they don't need a $2000 laptop just so they can listen to music in the car. Slam dunk!

We ended up connecting the new iPod to a truly ancient PC that we have in the basement, then transferred the video files through our home network so that my son could finally watch his favorite cartoon on it. But we are not pleased.

This is a message to all of you entrepreneurial geeky types out there. I want a smart, hand held device that "just works--really." I want it to be platform agnostic, so that I can use any file type with it. I want it be robust, long-lasting, and durable. I want it to do a lot of jobs for me, but be ridiculously simple-minded to use. I want it to come with a decent warranty and be totally independent so that I never have to connect it to my computer unless I want to. You give me this, and you've got a customer for life. And I have a feeling there are a lot of other folks out there who feel the same way.

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Guest's picture
Alyson

It's like cleaning products, but more overt. If you want to use a swiffer, your mop won't work.

And I"m loving that the only other comment on here is spam for web hosting. There's nothing about web hosting even in this post.

Guest's picture
Warren

I'm a long-time Mac junkie, too and probably will be for life (being a designer), but I have noticed they've been pretty domineering of late. It seems their attitude these days has not been not to reward loyalty, but to expect it. That's a pretty bad move for any commercial entity to make.

Guest's picture
topmate

Archos 605 wifi probably comes closest to what you're looking for.

Guest's picture
Gaz

As a recent Mac convert I was surprised to hear about this, but it does go to prove that at least Steve Jobs and his guys have learned something from Bill Gates and the heretics at Redmond: Once you have the product everyone wants, you can start to abuse that power absolutely.

It's a shame, a real shame. Charge your customer a fortune for the product and then make them pay extra to use it. Oh how the mighty have fallen...

Guest's picture
Guest

I had the same problem with a friend who bought an Ipod Mini, but was still using the older Windows 98. Itunes didn't work with it so she couldn't use it the Apple way.

Luckly, there's a great open source Ipod firmware called Rockbox available for many Ipod models with turns the Ipod into an mp3 player that plays almost any non-DRM file format and doesn't need Itunes to transfer files to it.

Guest's picture
Ken

One of the reasons I will never buy an Apple product.

I won't buy into their marketing machine!

Guest's picture
Brian

You do realize that it's perfectly possible to own a product without buying into whatever hype might be around it, don't you?

Guest's picture
Guest

So which marketing machine do you buy into?

Guest's picture
Guest

welcome to the digital age, upgrade or become obsolete!

Guest's picture
Pixel Kid

I warn you now this comment won't answer your problem but for those prepared to read on...to me the biggest advantage of the Apple hardware & software combo is that they are constantly on the cutting edge. But that comes with a hefty price, if you aren't prepared to keep up with Apple then it isn't perhaps the platform for you. It works for the techie like me but it isn't for everyone.

I've said it before though, it doesn't matter what OS you use if it works for you.

That said I did not realise that was an issue and it sounds very much like a dirty trick from Cupertino.

Guest's picture
Guest

Boo Hoo. My Playstation 1 game won't play on my Playstation 3. Damn you, Sony!

My question is, if you're such a loyal Apple user, why don't you have the latest version of Leopard or Tiger? You're really trying to con us into believing that your G4 Cube won't handle an update to 10.4.8? Give me a break.

Guest's picture
Guest

There's a lot of expense in maintaining old OS's, especially when the technology is changing so rapidly.

I, too, have been a loyal Mac fanatic. My 1997 Apple laptop still works --and I retrofitted it for wi-fi usage, but there's a limit to how much the 64 MB RAM (maxed out) and the old processor can handle.

With my PowerBook G4 (almost 4 years old), I've updated from Panther to Tiger to Leopard as the new OS's have become available. I added a gig of high-quality RAM. I would like to buy a new MacBook Pro when it has the multi-touchpad.

Now, I can do everything except run Windows natively (I have it running virtually if I should need it) and iMovies 08 (many prefer the older version, which is not as easy but has more technical features, I believe).

You should be able to return the iPod, but you might look at a new (refurbished) iMac from the Apple store web site, or buy one from a friend who is looking to upgrade. All of my original Macs still work (but I've donated several).

Guest's picture
Guest

My pretty new ipod won't work with the version of itunes I have on my work computer. Too bad my ipod mini died completely last week.

Xin Lu's picture
Xin Lu

okay..just to be the devil's advocate here. I'm not defending Apple or anything, but there is a reason why system requirements are documented on the box. It is tedious to make hardware/software backward compatible and it usually takes more programming/qa resources on the development side to make it compatible. Often the software product that is made compatible with older OSes have more bugs and are bigger and more cumbersome (I deal with this crap a lot since I'm a release engineer).  Sometimes the project managers just cut out the backward compatibility to get things released. So they leave it to the customer to figure out that certain things are just not compatible. You can't just assume that because it is a Mac it will work. So I'm saying I don't think Apple meant to screw with you or punish you. Though, it is possible that internally they made it not backward compatible so that people keep on upgrading. If you can prove that then it is a conspiracy to have Mac fans shell out as much money as possible.

On a side note, a company that has been great with backward compatibility is Nintendo. For example, the Nintendo DS has a slot for GBA, and the Wii has a slot for Gamecube.

Guest's picture
Ned

While it is true that some devices and software really do have higher/newer system requirements than others, this is an impossible scenario for the iPod Classic. Apple is doing a cash grab just like Microsoft did with Halo 2 for PC by requiring the latest OS, even though there is no performance difference between the two(especialy since Halo 2 was developed on XP).
The key idicator for the iPod: it works on XP. And XP is old, SP2 came out at least 2 years ago, maybe 3 now? So if it will run on the old windows OS why not the old Mac OS? It's not like the newer versions are even new, they are comparable to the (free) MS service packs. Notice how we aren't on OS14? For PCs the compatibility issue is this: USB devices work on XP really well, other OSs not so well(2000,98,etc). iPods connect with XP as a hard drive or with iTunes as a music player, the only upgrade needed for this newest iPod is the latest iTunes(free). So we see that the bridge of files to device is not the OS but the software. On Mac X USB devices work great, on OS9 not so great. See where i'm going?

A legit non-compatibility issue like what you're talking about is the new PS3 with no PS2 compatibility in the low price point. To save money Sony took out the hardware that handled PS2 functionality.

Catherine Shaffer's picture

You're right, Xin. There's no way to know if it is an actual Evil Conspiracy. It could be that they either didn't have the time or resources to make it backward compatible. I would expect, though, that if it wouldn't actually sync, the computer could detect it in "disk mode" which it doesn't, which makes me wonder if this is deliberate. We have Nintendo Game Cube, Game Boy, DS, and Wii, and we are hugely appreciative of the seamless backward compatibility in those systems. It's a great example of doing it right. 

In answer to some others, I know that there is an attitude of entitlement on Apple's part regarding its users paying big bucks to upgrade to newer operating systems, and for some reason certain customers really buy into this. Personally, I don't agree. The cube, when it was purchased, came loaded with system 9 software, in spite of the fact that OS X Panther was out already. Why were they selling a computer with obsolete system software right off the shelf? Not to mention that OS 9 was a horrible OS and they should have given everyone who had it a free copy of OS X just to make up for inflicting OS 9 on them. I paid the money for Panther, but no I will not pay an Apple Tax every couple of years just so that I can have the latest system software. Eventually I will need a new computer, either because my current one died, or because the new technology really is too much for the old processor. How I've been treated by Apple will definitely influence my decision. If I expect that a new Apple is not only going to be more expensive, but is going to give me more headaches and cost me more money in terms of upgrades...well, the competition is starting to look a lot better. Once upon a time, I chose Apple because I saw it working easily and intuitively while my friends with PCs were struggling with unstable software, having to hack their own machines and spend hours on customer support to get them to work. Now, the situation seems to be reversed.

Catherine Shaffer

Wise Bread Contributor

Guest's picture
Brian

"I would expect, though, that if it wouldn't actually sync, the computer could detect it in "disk mode" which it doesn't, which makes me wonder if this is deliberate."

On what technically-sound basis do you wonder this?

"We have Nintendo Game Cube, Game Boy, DS, and Wii, and we are hugely appreciative of the seamless backward compatibility in those systems. It's a great example of doing it right."

Yes, it is. The difference is that Apple's old software continues to run on newer operating systems. To make your analogy work, you'd have to be able to use a Wii controller with a Game Cube. Let me know when Nintendo enables that for you.

"In answer to some others, I know that there is an attitude of entitlement on Apple's part regarding its users paying big bucks to upgrade to newer operating systems, and for some reason certain customers really buy into this."

"Entitlement"? What "entitlement"? Apple can employ whatever "expectation" they like. If consumers don't like it, they're free to reject it (your Cube is a perfect example). But you elected to keep your iPod and use it in a cripple manner, which tells Apple that all this is okay with you.

"The cube, when it was purchased, came loaded with system 9 software, in spite of the fact that OS X Panther was out already. Why were they selling a computer with obsolete system software right off the shelf?"

Again, your utter lack of technical knowledge is showing. OS 9 was discontinued in very early '02 or very late '01. The Cube was discontinued in July of 2001. Panther came out in October of 2003. Your comment is written in such a way as to imply that your Cube came NEW with OS 9 when OS X 10.3 was on the market, but (a) you said above that the Cube was a gift from a friend -- was it new or used? -- and (b) what you're proposing is a technical impossibility.

You might have gotten a used Cube running 9.x, or a new Cube out of some reseller's vintage stock still running OS 9.x (since that's what they shipped with). But what you did not get was a new Cube, from Apple, running 9.x while Apple was shipping 10.3, because this didn't occur (except insofar as Apple continued to provide 9.x as a _non-default_ OS to support Classic mode, because the switch from 9.x to OS X involved a wholesale change in the code use to run applications). Either you're misinformed, or you're being disingenuous.

"Not to mention that OS 9 was a horrible OS and they should have given everyone who had it a free copy of OS X just to make up for inflicting OS 9 on them."

This has nothign whatsoever to do with your argument, and is, again, just an excuse to use Wisebread to pee in the chili of a company who has affronted you.

"I paid the money for Panther, but no I will not pay an Apple Tax every couple of years just so that I can have the latest system software."

This might be a valid argument if the upgrades provided no additional benefits. As it stands, they do. It's not a tax, and such references only damage your argument.

"Eventually I will need a new computer, either because my current one died, or because the new technology really is too much for the old processor. How I've been treated by Apple will definitely influence my decision."

That's fair.

"If I expect that a new Apple is not only going to be more expensive, but is going to give me more headaches and cost me more money in terms of upgrades...well, the competition is starting to look a lot better."

To which I say "Good luck, my friend." Have actually read anything about Vista recently?

"Once upon a time, I chose Apple because I saw it working easily and intuitively while my friends with PCs were struggling with unstable software, having to hack their own machines and spend hours on customer support to get them to work. Now, the situation seems to be reversed."

In a tirade full of misinformation and opinion disguised as fact, this is easily the most outlandish comment you've made. I invite you to switch. Much good may it do you.

Guest's picture
Brian

First, my bona fides: I'm a longtime Mac user but keep a foot in both worlds. I have more iPods than I can shake a stick at, including an iPhone. My job revolves around Mac maintenance. I keep an XP box and home, and an XP VM each under Fusion and Parallels. So:

"I've got an old, dead Mac laptop that I can't bear to part with from 1996."

This immediately denotes the type of user I tread warily around. It indicates the kind of person who wonders why they can't run their Mac Plus version of Tetris under Leopard. The sort who still drives their 1975 Dodge Dart, but gets irritated because they can't convert it to a hybrid.

"I've watched other Mac lovers fall away from the True Faith, one-by-one, but I never thought it would happen to me."

You know, I can't count how many thousands of dollars I've spent on Apple hardware over the years, but the fact remains that _it is a gadget_. It's not a religion. It's a product. That some users elect to treat it as more than a product is to Apple's benefit, but not their responsibility.

"After you pay the hefty $249 price tag, plus an extra $30 for a wall charger (they used to bundle those in for free)"

And gas stations used to hire attendants to check your oil and wash your windows while they filled your tank. Times change. As much as anything else, the chargers are largely unnecessary. I have four iPods that I use regularly, and I don't charge a single one of them from the wall...they're all from the computer. Was there supposed to be a point with this, or is it just an excuse to rant about Apple?

"plus $55 for the composite AV cable for your TV, plus any other little extras you may need"

Differentiate, please, between need and want. You _want_ to connect it to your TV, but I'd wager your _need_ to do so isn't all that great.

"there is a hidden cost that blows up in your face when you get it home."

Only hidden if you don't read.

"In short, the new iPods are not compatible with any operating system before OS 10.4.8."

OS X 10.4 has been out for nearly three years. I am, at best, unsympathetic. You can drop $350 for an iPod that replaces the working ones you already own, but you can't drop a Benjamin to keep your OS up to date?

"There's a good discussion of the problem here."

That definition of "problem" is interesting. As is that definition of "good discussion." What you link to is a bunch of agglomerated griping and armchair quarterbacking from people whose definition of "extensive research" translates -- trust me, I know the type -- as "I did a Google search and looked at the top five links." Not a single commenter is actually _qualified_ to explain any technical issues.

"Basically, if you don't have a newer operating system, you have to buy it before you can use your iPod. If you can't run the newest OS, Leopard, you need to call Apple tech support and they'll graciously sell you the outdated and obsolete Tiger for $129. You can imagine what I said to this gracious offer, after plunking down $350 for the device."

This is a blatant double-standard. You continue to use a G4 Cube, which was discontinued in mid-2001. You're running Panther, which was discontinued in April '05. So your machine is (at best) seven years old, and your OS is three. Yet, they're perfectly okay. But Tiger is "obsolete and outdated." Look, either "obsolete and outdated" is perfectly okay with you, or you have a problem with it...you can't have it both ways.

And let's be clear, buying Tiger from Apple was NOT your only option. As I write this, there are several copies being auctioned starting at about $20. So Apple might be where you called, but their price left you only _cold_, not stuck.

"In a way, I should have seen it coming. I had recently spent several hours trying to get my brother-in-law's two new iPods (shuffle and nano) to sync with his PC. But I assumed that it was a Mac/PC thing, and that it could never happen to me. And yet it did. My computer stubbornly refused to recognize the device."

This has nothing to do with anything, other than your brother in law might possibly have bought a bum iPod. Stuff happens. If you truly walk around with the "it'll never happen to me" attitude about any technology, you're asking for reality to slap you in the face. Hard. But that has nothing to do with the system requirements printed on the iPod box.

"We should have read the system requirements on the box.. I admit it. I didn't."

Yes, you admit it halfway through your commentary and immediately after a paragraph plainly written out of a generalized sense of betrayal. Somehow you, a True Believer, haven't been treated properly by Apple. How could this be?

Again, I'm lacking in sympathy.

"There are two reasons for that. One is that after so many years of being able to count on my computer to handle a variety of devices without complaint, it simply never occurred to me. The iPod is a standalone device. All I need my computer to do is exchange data with it."

This is, at best, a naive outlook.

"And since my computer has no problem running the newest versions of iTunes and Quicktime, I never expected that there would be any compatibility issues. Moreover, it's become standard and expected for all of these handheld devices to connect to any computer via USB cable. I would never think to check for system requirements for my digital camera or my cell phone."

Again, your technaivete is charming, but not practical. You know what they say about assumptions, so don't fault Apple for your misconceptions. How many other $350 purchases to you fail so completely to research beforehand? I don't know about you, but I'm more careful with my coin than that. (By the way, it's far from "standard" for cellphones to simply work with your Mac.)

"The other reason is more practical. I never got my hands on the box until I paid for it. We had extensive conversations with the salespeople, in which compatibility never came up, then they unlocked a cabinet, took a box out, and carried it to a cash register. I don't blame them for this."

No, instead you blame Apple, which is only valid if you bought at an Apple store, and then only insofar as saying they should train their clerks better.

"I think they were under the influence of the Mac "it just works" mind-control field as much as I was."

"Mind-control field"? Excuse me while I clean the soda out of my keyboard! How, exactly, does this fit in with Wisebread's philosophy of personal responsibility for one's money? You're sloughing your responsibility off on Apple at every turn. Makes for a nice sob story, but not so much for a paean to personal responsibility.

"Ultimately, Apple has failed to provide a technical justification for this. The technical support representative made it sound like it was a law of nature or something. "You can't make a device be compatible with an older computer," she said."

Technical support reps are trained to solve specific problems, or provide answers to why the problems cannot be solved. This is NOT equivalent to "technical support reps are gifted software engineers who understand the code that makes things go." You're plainly expecting the latter, and you wouldn't get it from anywhere, least of all Apple. Even if they could give you the technical details, would you understand them or care? At this point in this tale, I have to doubt that.

"This is obviously just an old-fashioned wallet grab. I can see the marketing execs, in their board room, poring over numbers representing people who were still using older versions of Macs and operating systems. "What if we could force them to buy a new operating system with their iPod? Better yet, maybe they'll decide after all that trouble to buy a new computer. What a slam dunk!""

What this "obviously" is is Catherine Shaffer's personal jeremiad against Apple for failing to pay heed to her unreasonable expectations as a customer (to wit "Why can't you make my seven-year-old computer and three-year-old OS work with my six-month-old iPod."). Apple's marketing intent notwithstanding.

And you may well be right...81% of Apple's installed base still runs Tiger, so this could well be a tool designed to push people to Leopard. But that emphatically does not make Apple evil just becaust Catherine Shaffer is suddenly excluded from using new iPods unless she upgrades! (For the record, you _can_ run Leopard on a Cube with an upgraded video card. I've done it.)

"In fact, I suspect not merely a failure to support the older OS, but some kind of deliberate cloaking of the device, forcing it to be invisible to the older OS. Why else would the computer not even be able to see that there is something plugged into its USB port? And if that's the case, perchance this nasty little easter egg is also turning on accidentally with certain other computers and operating systems, which might explain why my brother-in-law's children were unable to use the iPods they received for Christmas on their PC."

This is a completely unfounded assertion, and I find it difficult to believe that Wisebread condones this sort of ludicrous supposition and FUD. I thought that was reserved to Linux nuts and Microsoft. Honestly, at this point you should be ashamed. You're basically just determined to pee in Apple's chili to the greatest extent possible, and no lack of fact is going to get in your way.

"What all of this comes down to, for me, is that I am tired of the platform wars."

Excuse me? This isn't a platform war. It's an issue of how long a manufactur should continue support for an old product. To use my previous example, are you now arguing that Chrysler should still be producing engine components for your Dart? Gimme a break.

"I shudder to think of my old cube trying to run a bloated newer operating system)"

What, exactly, is your experience with Leopard that justifies this accusation? Because my MacBook and MacBook Pro, and my wife's G4, actually felt substantially faster after moving to 10.5.

"which, by the way, I was planning to do extensively"

Nice try. "Apple, if you don't play by my rules, I'll take my ball and go home." Except it's not your ball, and your alternative is bogus services like Hulu. Have fun.

"I'm tired of trying to exchange text files with people who have some subtly different document format, and seeing all of my formatting turned into gibberish."

For the record (since we are apparently passing personal anecdotes off as fact here) I exchange dozens of files with hundreds of users on a regular basis, and experience no difficulty at all. I don't think I'd be beyond the pale this far in to suggest that this might well be user error.

"I'm tired of declaring loyalty to one manufacturer or another just because I bought their product."

That's the first thing you've said all day that makes sense. but how does that make it Apple's fault that you drank the proverbial Flavor-Aid?

"When I take my car in for repairs, the mechanic never tells me that my older model car is "no longer supported," or that my new tires are incompatible with my older chassis."

If he works for a dealership I'll be he does. Even if they'll work on an older car, you'll be told at some point that you can't get parts for it (try finding electrical switches for a vintage Midget, or original dashboard trim components for a Mark II Jetta). And the tires example translates poorly, since basically every manufacturer draws on the same set of specs for tires.

"I am not forced to stop using my refrigerator because my new food is suddenly incompatible with it."

Bad example again. If your computer's job was simply to hold food, that'd be valid. Generally, though, hard drives don't start refusing to hold data because it's incompatible (see, there's a valid analogy).

"And while I'm on the subject, I don't understand why I need a desktop or a laptop computer at all to use my iPod or my other smart devices. Has no one ever thought of making an ethernet or wireless adapter so that we can download our tunes directly from the internet? Of course not!"

REF: iPhone with iTunes Wireless Music Store. The Zune has WiFi, too, though it's not worth much.

"Because then people might decide they don't need a $2000 laptop just so they can listen to music in the car. Slam dunk!'

Not so much, really.

"We ended up connecting the new iPod to a truly ancient PC that we have in the basement, then transferred the video files through our home network so that my son could finally watch his favorite cartoon on it. But we are not pleased."

Then you should return the iPod. Ranting about the situation on Wisebread is unlikely to turn Apple's head. If you feel you've got beef, get your money back. According to you, money is all this is about (and exactly how that's a crime for a company whose entire purpose is to generate shareholder value is beyond me).

"This is a message to all of you entrepreneurial geeky types out there. I want a smart, hand held device that "just works--really." I want it to be platform agnostic, so that I can use any file type with it. I want it be robust, long-lasting, and durable. I want it to do a lot of jobs for me, but be ridiculously simple-minded to use. I want it to come with a decent warranty and be totally independent so that I never have to connect it to my computer unless I want to. You give me this, and you've got a customer for life. And I have a feeling there are a lot of other folks out there who feel the same way."

Buy an Archos product.

And by the by, there's a world of difference between "simple to use" and "simple-minded to use". I'll take "simple" if it's all the same.

I expect better of Wisebread than this kind of lame, ill-informed rant. Really.

Guest's picture
annie

you are running a really old mac and you expect it to run new technology. it's unrealistic.

then you call people who've bought newer mac's people who've fallen away from the true faith. we are still true faith we just upgraded.

Guest's picture

It's the other way round for me. I used linux both professionally and private for ten years. And I have had it. Although the basis is good (I am unix/linux consultant), the GUI is just like windows. All simple tasks are ridiculously complicated and if you want to get something done you either have to develop software for it or install programs, plugins and drivers until you're old. Now that I'm on mac, I am there for good. I never switch to any other platform anymore. I can totally rely on it, it does what I expect and how I expect it, it charges my ipod (classic 80gb too) with power as well as music and I don't have to install extras to do simple things.

Regards,
Servaas

Guest's picture
Guest

I severely doubt that apple 'put a cloaking device' on their product to actively prevent it from working with older OSes. What they probably did was an analysis on how many people still had an old OS, and decided it wasn't worth the trouble.

And as a software developer, I can tell you it *is* trouble. It's not impossible like the tech support said, but it does take time, effort, money, and ultimately makes the product worse at relating to new platforms, since it can't use the latest and greatest protocols and optimizations.

So they drew the line a little closer than you would have liked. Yeah, you can gripe about it, and you probably have a point that three years is a little slim, but be clear that that's what you're griping about. It's not a conspiracy, it's just a decision.

Oh, and I don't completely get your comment that cars are so much better in this department. Sure you can get new tires for a five year old car, but can you get one for a 50 year old one? We have a 15 year old volvo (that works pretty much just fine, thanks) and while we can still get tires, any other parts (speedometer, brake lights...) have to come from a junkyard. Yeah, it's a longer cycle, but cars are a much more established technology, and not evolving nearly as fast as computers, so you should expect that.

Catherine Shaffer's picture

"You do realize that it's perfectly possible to own a product without buying into whatever hype might be around it, don't you"

You're kind of making me wonder, there, buddy.

I think you are right that OS X came out after the cube was discontinued. Thanks for the correction. However, remember that the computers stay on the shelves for a while after the company stops making them, so it was not that long after the computer was purchased that the new OS came out, and it never worked well under OS 9.

If you installed Leopard on a G4 cube, then you probably know that the minimum system requirements for Leopard include a 750 Mhz processor, and that the cube came with a 450 Mhz processor.

I think the bottom line here is that Apple went out of their way to make the iPod compatible with even older PC systems, so the question of whether it was technically possible for it to be backward compatible with system 10.3 seems rather moot. Of course they could have done it if they wanted. Or, if it really was too much, they could have comped the few of us that are still running the older system a free copy of Tiger, which is not the new flagship product, which they are not selling through regular channels anyway, and which no one would willingly buy if they could run Leopard. (That is my point about it being obsolete.)

Catherine Shaffer

Wise Bread Contributor

Guest's picture
jess

i totally agree with everything brian said here. its absolutely ridiculous to assume that your BRAND NEW generation ipod will automatically connect with an OS as outdated as OS 9. thats like expecting to be able to connect your ipod successfully to windows 3.1. seriously.

oh. it is also ridiculous to think they should include a copy of tiger FREE just because you paid base $249 for something. thats chump change that doesnt entitle you to a free OS upgrade. windows vista is out, so by your theory, everyone should be able to get windows xp for free too right?

maybe the people with the false sense of entitlement are not apple, as you suggest, but yourself. apple doesnt owe you anything. especially if you are running a 7 year old computer with a 3 year old operating system. that doesnt exactly make you an ideal customer. in my house we have a mac mini, a g5, 2 14in ibooks, a macbook, a macbook pro, ipod nano, ipod mini. in fact the computer i am on is running your "outdated tiger ox x." interesting.

Guest's picture
jess

i noticed someone up there commented that the new ipods dont work on windows 98. which is the predecessor to xp. the newest ipods are still compatible with panther (panther, tiger, leopard), but not windows 98 (98, xp, vista) so obviously mac went back farther in backwards compatibility with their own OS than with PC like you tried to suggest. i think it would be in your best interest to concede this argument, because the only accurate thing you've said thus far is that you should have read the system requirements. Those requirements are easily accessible online (it took me 5 sec to find these http://www.apple.com/ipodclassic/specs.html). not handling the box is not an excuse. before you take an accusatory stance against something, you should check your facts better. this was too easy to tear apart.

Catherine Shaffer's picture

Jess,

The new iPods are not compatible with Panther. Panther is 10.3. That's what my computer is running right now. They went back at least 8 years in compatibility with PC's, but barely three years for Mac. It looks like you found the specs but you didn't read them. That's okay. Seems like a lot of people are having that problem.

Actually, I am the ideal Mac customer. You know why? Because I am going to need two new computers soon. Probably by the end of 2008.  

Catherine Shaffer

Wise Bread Contributor

Guest's picture

Isn't this just the way things go? Apple started off as the lovable David to the Microsoft Goliath, but is now starting to develop serious image problems of its own. After all, how many millions of iPods can you sell and still pretend to be trendy and alternative?

I think the same thing is happening with Google, albeit at a slower pace.

Guest's picture
Other Half

Actually, I do feel entitled to free upgrades to "minor" OS revisions (These are all OS X). While I complain quite a bit about Microsoft, frankly, I am using a computer shipped in early 2001 and the version of XP is up-to-date. That's exellent service compared to needing to _buy_ a new OS every 2-3 years.

(For the record, I am biased in that I use Linux professionally, and preferrentially. )

Sure it's "smart" in building revenue for shareholders, but I don't want to play that game. I want to have some protection of my investment and not have to play the upgrade game.

This site is about 'living large on a small budget'. In that context, having a 6-year-old computer doesn't seem unreasonable. The iPod works with the 6-year-old XP box (which was a low-performance cheapo when purchased). This machine has USB 1.1 not USB 2.0. However, the iPod does not work with the 6-year old Mac because of the OS-level.

Since an iPod is a USB device (a standardized interface), and the Mac in question can run the latest version of iTunes, I cannot understand what technical issues keep the iPod from being compatible unless there was a non-standard implementation of USB in OS 10.3.x.

Yeah, sure we're stupid for not reading the compatibility statement. That was obvious though. We may be idiots, but we're not alone on this one.

Guest's picture
Ohabu

As far as I can see it, there are only one reason why your ipod should not work legitimately. It requires usb 2.0. No real reason for anything to require usb 2.0, but that is the only possible reason.

The thruth is however that Apple products are bad. They have become increasingly bad over the later years. They are no longer the "just works" firm, they are the "pretty colors" firm. Like the iphone - a horrid phone in every way except for the pretty interface and the solid mp3 capabilites. iPods are for some reason bound to itunes, a really slow and annoying piece of software, unless you own a mac.

Leopard suffers from at least as many problems as Vista (did).

If I was to offer some advice: buy a zen. They are solid, small, and they "just work". The day I got my zen I stopped using iPods alltogether. By then I had 3 different ones, but somehow they just sat on my shelf collecting dust from that day.

Guest's picture
Ohabu

As far as I can see it, there are only one reason why your ipod should not work legitimately. It requires usb 2.0. No real reason for anything to require usb 2.0, but that is the only possible reason.

The thruth is however that Apple products are bad. They have become increasingly bad over the later years. They are no longer the "just works" firm, they are the "pretty colors" firm. Like the iphone - a horrid phone in every way except for the pretty interface and the solid mp3 capabilites. iPods are for some reason bound to itunes, a really slow and annoying piece of software, unless you own a mac.

Leopard suffers from at least as many problems as Vista (did).

If I was to offer some advice: buy a zen. They are solid, small, and they "just work". The day I got my zen I stopped using iPods alltogether. By then I had 3 different ones, but somehow they just sat on my shelf collecting dust from that day.

Guest's picture
Guest

apple bites period. I had an ipod that crashed 2 days after the warranty expired (yes - stupid me for not buying extended warranty but it was a gift) and the only thing the apple tech geeks could tell me is it may be electrical. Hey - we'll let you buy a new one for a 10% discount. NO THANKS.....I bought a Zune for 1/2 the price with 4X the memory.

Guest's picture
John B

Catharine,

You claim that apple is supporting systems that are 8 years old on the PC side and only 3 years old on the Mac but you fail to realize that Vista was just released last year and XP was released in 2001 but was a current OS until vista came out (and actually you can still buy PC's with XP on it because people hate vista so much) For that analogy to be correct you would have to say that apple is supporting the last X number of OS's from MS and compare it to the total number of OS's from Apple. Then we must look at the major differences in the OS's from the respective manufacturer and see if there is a HUGE difference in the code to make the iPod work. If keeping the iPod working under win 98 requires no more coding than all ready done (and MS is well know to not update their code) then it'll be compatible but if there are changes in the code that requires the software on the iPod to be extensively updated to support the different OS then support will be lacking due to the law of diminishing returns. "How many more people will benefit if I put more effort into the development" The greater the effort required with a decreasing benefit is bad business.

Ohabu,

The reason it requires USB 2 over USB 1 is because of the speed in which data is transfered. Try transferring gigs of information over USB 1 and compare it to USB 2. It will take hours for it to transfer over USB 1 while it'll take minutes over USB 2.

Guest's picture
Guest

Just load RockBox on it and your problem will be solved...

Guest's picture
Ohabu

Yes, the speed differences are vast (1.5mb/s vs 60mb/s), but the usb specifications states that all compliant devices must be backwards compatible - "Equipment conforming with any version of the standard will also work with devices designed to any previous specification" (from wiki, also in the specifications if you are very bored: http://www.usb.org/developers/docs/)

If you reach the theoretical max of 1.5mb/s when transfering to your mp3 player it will take about 750 s to transfer 1 gb - or about 12.5 minutes.

So yes, it is slow, but there is no techincal reason for the usb port to be the problem.

Guest's picture
MoneyMark

You should trying running windows on your MAc and then sync the songs through there.

Greg Go's picture
Greg Go

I agree with you Catherine. Consumer electronics is still way too confusing.

Sony has been doing this for years. I freakin' hate that every Sony device only works with the Sony memory stick, and that the Sony memory stick only works in Sony products. And now... Sony is rewarded yet again for their proprietary technology with the win of Blu-ray over HD-DVD. *sigh* I hate you, Sony!

To be fair, though, Apple has done the best job of making it easy on consumers to use technology. It'll never be completely easy since technology moves so quickly, and we all want the latest, slickest thing available now.

At least Apple isn't as bad as Sony. *shrug*

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

"We had extensive conversations with the salespeople, in which compatibility never came up, then they unlocked a cabinet, took a box out, and carried it to a cash register. I don't blame them for this."

I think you're being way to generous here. The salespeople are absolutely responsible for giving you the correct information about your product. It doesn't matter if you bought it at the Apple Store or Walmart.

"I think they were under the influence of the Mac "it just works" mind-control field as much as I was."

As a someone who constantly suffers from iTunes crashes (I run Windows XP), I am immune to that field. =)

Will Chen's picture
Will Chen

Steve Job's response (come on, you knew this was coming).

Guest's picture
Matt

Wow. I can't believe you folks don't see this for what it is: a blatant attempt to bleed more money out of consumers, or at least a total disregard for those who don't buy everything Apple tells them to buy. How much do you really think is involved in transferring files from a computer, over a usb cable, to a hard drive that plays MP3s? It should be dead simple to make this happen. This isn't a brand new piece of software with high system requirements.

And charging $30 for a wall-charger is just obnoxious.

Say all that you want about how consumers should pay attention and they should just take their money elsewhere if they don't like how a manufacturer takes advantage of them. The fact remains that Apple knows it has a popular (not superior, mind you) product with high brand recognition and that they can charge an extra premium for this. This is a bad thing for consumers and for the public at large.

Of course Apple can charge as much as they want, and no one is forcing consumers to buy their products. But what Apple is doing here is legally ripping off consumers because these consumers face an inequality in information access and knowledge, and are likely to buy based on brand recognition.

Catherine Shaffer's picture

That Steve Jobs link is a hoot! Thanks for the laugh!

You may be right, Will, about the salespeople. When I wrote that, I assumed I could take it back for a full refund, but if there's a restocking fee, then my wrath is upon them.

Matt--yes, exactly. Transferring data between two computers (and the iPod is a computer) can be done with a telephone cable and FTP. So what is the deal with the one not even being able to see the other? (It's not the USB--the iPod does indeed work with USB 1.0.) I think that is very fishy--in a "someone made a bad mistake" way or in a "Apple is being plain nasty" way. I know people have me wearing tin foil hats over the suggestion that Apple would use the iPod software to deliberately block certain uses, but there is a precedent of exactly that. One example, and this is no secret at all, is that the iPhone comes programmed only to work with ATT cell phone networks. However, you can hack the iPhone and it will work nicely with any cell phone provider you want. Another example is that some older models of iPods can be used as high fidelity audio recorders. However, the iPod software only allows you 8 khz (which is not high quality), even though the device is capable of 96 khz. Here's a hack that shows you how to get around this deliberate limitation on the part of Apple: http://www.hackaday.com/2004/12/30/how-to-record-on-your-ipod-for-free/

So I for one am ready to believe that there may be a reason that Apple does not want your older OS to be able to talk to your new iPod, and that they did this very purposefully.

Catherine Shaffer

Wise Bread Contributor

Catherine Shaffer's picture

That Steve Jobs link is a hoot! Thanks for the laugh!

You may be right, Will, about the salespeople. When I wrote that, I assumed I could take it back for a full refund, but if there's a restocking fee, then my wrath is upon them.

Matt--yes, exactly. Transferring data between two computers (and the iPod is a computer) can be done with a telephone cable and FTP. So what is the deal with the one not even being able to see the other? (It's not the USB--the iPod does indeed work with USB 1.0.) I think that is very fishy--in a "someone made a bad mistake" way or in a "Apple is being plain nasty" way. I know people have me wearing tin foil hats over the suggestion that Apple would use the iPod software to deliberately block certain uses, but there is a precedent of exactly that. One example, and this is no secret at all, is that the iPhone comes programmed only to work with ATT cell phone networks. However, you can hack the iPhone and it will work nicely with any cell phone provider you want. Another example is that some older models of iPods can be used as high fidelity audio recorders. However, the iPod software only allows you 8 khz (which is not high quality), even though the device is capable of 96 khz. Here's a hack that shows you how to get around this deliberate limitation on the part of Apple: http://www.hackaday.com/2004/12/30/how-to-record-on-your-ipod-for-free/

So I for one am ready to believe that there may be a reason that Apple does not want your older OS to be able to talk to your new iPod, and that they did this very purposefully.

Catherine Shaffer

Wise Bread Contributor

Guest's picture
Guest

I guess the pressing matter here is setting reasonable expectations for technology and compatibility. Would anyone try to stick a DVD in a 2001-era CD burner and become irate that it doesn't work? If you plugged a 1997 SCSI scanner into your new iMac, would you be surprised when you realized there was no port for it? What about trying to install an Intel-native app. on the G4?

I'm of the opinion that you should feel happy that Apple has supported your G4 with operating systems that run swimmingly up to this point, and that ANY new (or old) technology should be reviewed carefully prior to purchase and use. Isn't this a fundamental Wisebread concept? Dur. You can't be angry that Apple doesn't want your $250 unless you have a more modern OS. They don't have to take your money.

You're looking at this from a perspective of "this is just a scam to get me to spend another $130 for a new OS." Maybe Apple views it as a "we don't really want your $250 for an iPod."

Just a thought.

Guest's picture

I had my first computer in 1995. At the time I was not interested in computers at all but I realized of the potential of computers for art and music from some friends of mine who were using a Mac. It seemed the best option for these kind of works.

I always believed the Mac computers were far ahead of PCs, I gave it for granted because I never used a PC myself. Through the years I have had two Mac laptops and four computers, in including a G4 and a Mac-Mini. That makes 6 Mac computers. Out of them 5 of them broke and went to the trash with no solution. Also a Mac monitor. They all broke out of the blue, motherboard gone, no solution, no explanation in Apple's official technical services. They always blamed on electrical problems at home, but I've been living in three different houses including 2 different countries!

Last year my last computer broke again and I needed a quick solution to keep working and I decided to get a laptop. The prices of Mac laptops are too expensive for my pocket, I don't even consider taking a business risk like that for such amount of money. My wife works by my side and she works with PC, thats how I figured out she never had any technical problems and with Mac I had all the time. So I got a Sony Vaio. I have it for 6 months now and I haven't got a single problem. With Mac I used to have problems all of the time. There's nothing so exciting really about Mac Os operative system when you need the computer to work and it's making it painful. I don't miss my Mac at all.

Mac computers are supposed to be cool, really nice design, beautiful operative system, that's OK. But they are too expensive just for that and I think that is not enough to make it worthwhile if you use your computer 18 hours a day.

It looks to me like it's becoming an expensive caprice to be part of Mac's club. And I agree with this article, Apple is punishing loyal users like me until they move to PC for a better life.

Guest's picture

I had my first computer in 1995. At the time I was not interested in computers at all but I realized of the potential of computers for art and music from some friends of mine who were using a Mac. It seemed the best option for these kind of works.

I always believed the Mac computers were far ahead of PCs, I gave it for granted because I never used a PC myself. Through the years I have had two Mac laptops and four computers, in including a G4 and a Mac-Mini. That makes 6 Mac computers. Out of them 5 of them broke and went to the trash with no solution. Also a Mac monitor. They all broke out of the blue, motherboard gone, no solution, no explanation in Apple's official technical services. They always blamed on electrical problems at home, but I've been living in three different houses including 2 different countries!

Last year my last computer broke again and I needed a quick solution to keep working and I decided to get a laptop. The prices of Mac laptops are too expensive for my pocket, I don't even consider taking a business risk like that for such amount of money. My wife works by my side and she works with PC, thats how I figured out she never had any technical problems and with Mac I had all the time. So I got a Sony Vaio. I have it for 6 months now and I haven't got a single problem. With Mac I used to have problems all of the time. There's nothing so exciting really about Mac Os operative system when you need the computer to work and it's making it painful. I don't miss my Mac at all.

Mac computers are supposed to be cool, really nice design, beautiful operative system, that's OK. But they are too expensive just for that and I think that is not enough to make it worthwhile if you use your computer 18 hours a day.

It looks to me like it's becoming an expensive caprice to be part of Mac's club. And I agree with this article, Apple is punishing loyal users like me until they move to PC for a better life.

Guest's picture
Craig

I don't understand how you can consider yourself a Mac junkie if you never upgraded to Tiger. Your situation is the equivalent of buying a DVD and expecting it to work in your VHS player. At least Apple's not asking you to upgrade to Blu-Ray (Leopard, in this case).

Your analogies don't work, BTW...if you had a classic car you would have to hunt around for the right tires. And this is the equivalent of retrofitting a new ice and water dispenser into an older refrigerator, not putting new food into one (that would be software).

Finally, if you want an iPod that you can download music to wirelessly, without a computer, get an iPod Touch.

Guest's picture
Elizabeth

This is the LAST blog in which I would expect to find a flame war. I subscribe to WiseBread because it's real people offering real solutions to real problems. I want to hear about ways to make my tiny budget go farther, not listen to fanboys wow the masses with their effortless spouting of Apple specs.

I think the post is better suited for a place like The Consumerist, which gives voice to the myriad ways in which we get screwed by The Man.

The internet is full of tiny little soapboxes, each giving voice to some blogger's list of injustices. I don't read those. I read WiseBread. I check my Google Reader each morning, eagerly opening each post full of DIY ideas to make my life healthier and happier. Let's keep it that way!

Guest's picture
Guest

"When I take my car in for repairs, the mechanic never tells me that my older model car is "no longer supported,""

You have aparently never owned a car as old as I have. After trying all the local auto stores for a part only yo be told over and over again it was dealer only a trip to the dealer was where I was told "its too old we don't make that part anymore"

Guest's picture
Guest

One word - "Archos"

Bought one - haven't looked at my ipod since - and didn't need to replace my perfectly working 7 year old mac book so I could run the new O/S to run the new iTunes so I could have also "extensively" bought music from apple as well.

where once I was loyal - now I say suck it apple!