Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 30/9/2005Look away, Fun Police, it's iPod nano time again. You may be awarethat there's been a fuss lately about screen problems with this tinyyet desirable device: some fail altogether, while a larger number seemmore prone to scratches and abrasion than is quite right.

Friday 30/9/2005

Look away, Fun Police, it's iPod nano time again. You may be aware that there's been a fuss lately about screen problems with this tiny yet desirable device: some fail altogether, while a larger number seem more prone to scratches and abrasion than is quite right. Apple went through the normal deny/admit/fix cycle with some rapidity: these affairs can blow up and calm down in a matter of hours, these days. But like the Labour Party apologising to a Jewish octogenarian survivor of the Nazis for giving him a free reminder of the old days, an extra reserve of prickly annoyance is retained for those who dare to suggest that all is perhaps not well even after official contrition has been dispensed.

In Apple's case, this has shown itself in a particularly rugged response to any reference to the problem on the official iPod nano discussion areas. Readers of our sister site in America say that in some cases, messages that fall foul of the official moratorium are deleted within three minutes of posting. Old threads that had been tolerated prior to the official acknowledgment of the problem were removed and references to critical Web sites deleted, leaving many people furious that some form of official cover-up was in place.

Which of course there was. Perhaps Apple was hoping that would-be nanobots would visit only the Apple forums in looking for evidence about the robustness of the toy — ignoring the while every other iPod hangout on the Web, newspaper archives and Google caches. Perhaps there will be one or two who will be comforted by the good news they find there.

Most, though, will find that the coverage of Apple's spin control will stick longer than the good news. It's not as if there's going to be some great surge of anti-nano feeling out there; it remains a tempting proposition and I've already recommended one as a present for a family member. But Apple's already strong reputation as an imperious and uncaring power baboon will only be strengthened, and that sort of perception can come back to bite in the future, especially when things aren't so buoyant. Why act so aggressively on a matter that doesn't matter? These are the seeds of self-destruction which grow in the humus of hubris into the thickets of tragedy.

I think it's time for my lie down now. See you next week.