IPod's 'dirty secret' wins Web fans

Irate at the difficulty and expense of replacing the dead batteries in their iPod, two filmmakers have embarked on an 'anti-advertising' campaign.

Irate at the difficulty and expense of replacing the dead batteries in their iPod, two filmmakers have embarked on an 'anti-advertising' campaign.

Two filmmakers are getting attention around the Net for an "anti-advertising" project aimed at protesting what they call the "dirty secret" of Apple's iPod music player -- its battery.

Brothers Casey and Van Neistat, who collaborate on video projects using Mac editing software, were told by an Apple technical support representative that the cost to replace the dead battery in an 18-month-old iPod would be US$255, comparable to the cost of a new device. Incensed at what seemed to be the early obsolescence of the pricey music player, the brothers trekked around New York City stencilling the words "iPod's unreplaceable battery lasts only 18 months" on all the iPod posters they could find.

Now they claim video they created of their exploits is getting 50,000 hits a day, via ipodsdirtysecret.com. As of Wednesday afternoon the site was overloaded, having seen more than 186,000 visitors.

However, the brothers might have searched for a second opinion before taking to the streets -- as it turns out, it's possible to replace the battery for as little as US$49 via third-party kits. Apple itself offers a battery-replacement service for about US$106, including postage, with a 90-day guarantee on materials and workmanship.

This programme was introduced only in the past two weeks, however, which could explain why the Neistats believed that they were left high and dry.

Other iPod users have reported that the device's battery life diminishes with use, as is common for many rechargeable batteries. Unlike standard disposable batteries, the rechargeable power supplies used in the iPod and other high-tech gadgets do not come in standard form factors. Replacing the battery involves a tricky process of dismantling the gadget, but third-parties offer this service for around US$70.

More information on Apple's iPod Battery Replacement Program is available from Apple's technical support Web site. The programme is not yet available in Europe.

ZDNet U.K.'s Matthew Broersma reported from London.

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