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Apple: iPod failure rate ‘extremely low’

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By LC Angell

Contributing Editor
Published: Friday, December 8, 2006
News Categories: iPod

In a Wall Street Journal article about consumers becoming more familiar with dying iPods, Apple spokesman Steve Dowling said the iPod failure rate is less than 5%, which he claims is “extremely low” compared with other electronics devices. “iPods are designed to last for years, but as with any complex consumer-electronics product such as digital cameras, they can be broken if dropped or mishandled by users,” he said. The “overwhelming majority” of iPod users are happy with their devices, said Dowling. Dead iPods are considered to be devices with bad batteries, cracked screens or malfunctioning hard disks.

The Journal’s Nick Wingfield reports: “Even if only a tiny percentage of iPods malfunction, the huge popularity of the devices means a significant number of users could be affected. Apple has sold nearly 70 million iPods in the five years since the product first went on sale. If just under 5% of that number failed, that could still amount to millions of affected devices. Apple declined to comment on the specific number of iPods that have failed… The iPod’s durability could become a more important issue as consumers become less dazzled by cutting-edge technology and more concerned about longevity, especially for a device that can cost hundreds of dollars”

[via Gizmodo]

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Comments

1

Considering failure rates for Laptop Displays and other medium to large LCDs tends to hover between 20 and 40%, I’d say under 5% is incredible.  Sure, it’s still a large number in the grand scheme of things, but how many people out there haven’t had some other electronic that didn’t work out of the box or went bad within a few weeks?

At least Apple’s service gets right on top of legitimate issues and makes things right.  It’s more than you can say for some companies.

Posted by Nick G on December 8, 2006 at 10:35 AM (PDT)

2

I never had any problem with my other ipods, my 1st gen is still going strong after 5 years.

My 5th gen did die within 6 months, but I took it back to the Apple Store and walked out with a new one. Thank you AppleCare!

Posted by torresr#3 on December 8, 2006 at 11:06 AM (PDT)

3

Never had any problem with the three iPods I’ve owned. I know others have had some problems, but at least Apple has stepped up and helped them solve the problem. I can’t say the same for Dell, Creative, or HP.

Posted by urbanslaughter on December 8, 2006 at 11:35 AM (PDT)

4

I’ve owned three versions of iPod.  My 3rd gen ipod had a few problems.  Luckily I had purchased the AppleCare plan and used it whenever I needed help.  My 60GB iPod Photo (4th gen?) has had MANY problems.  I got an extended warranty from Best Buy when I got it, but I also purchased an AppleCare plan as well, probably overkill.  However, over the past two years I’ve sent it in to Apple for locking up 5 or 6 times.  They replaced it with a refurb 3 times.  So now I’m on my fourth one and I’m still having problems.  I took it into Best Buy and now they’ve sent it in twice for repairs, but it’s still locking up regularly.  So I’m waiting for the next gen to come out, hopefully in Jan, and then I’ll have Best Buy send it in one more time, after that I get a new one.  Hopefully they’ve fixed the problems I’ve been experiencing with the hard drive in the newer versions…  It’s driving me nuts - I have to go without an ipod nearly every month.  Not cool, and not what I would expect from a high-priced item…

Posted by Eddie on December 8, 2006 at 1:18 PM (PDT)

5

I’d like to say I didn’t have any problem with my iPod but it’s far from the truth.

I bought a 40gig 4G ipod 2 years ago, with a 2 year applecare.

I’m at my 3rd replacement: I’ve have 3 of them dying with the “sad ipod” icon.

I’ve read that the 40gig 4G ipod are almost considered the “lemon” of the family, with the highest failing rate.

Nevertheless I love my iPod and if this one dies I’ll buy another one for sure! But maybe I’ll settle for a nano instead, since flash memory is not prone to the same hardware failures that hard drives…

Posted by mrthebunny on December 8, 2006 at 1:19 PM (PDT)

6

what exactly does a failure rate of 5% mean? it’s kind of ambiguous.. 5% of new ones fail in a year maybe? I know both my 4gs only lasted about 6 months each, but I have a penchant for giving my electronics a lot of tough love.

Posted by jm on December 8, 2006 at 1:22 PM (PDT)

7

I fixed a friends ipod that had a “sad face” ipod on the screen.

First, listen to the back of the ipod when you first start it up. You should hear a clicking sound. If so, then hold the ipod at hip level and drop it straight down on a carpeted floor.

That should jolt the hard drive and get it spinning normally.

Worked for my friend because his ipod was out of warranty.

Posted by torres#3 on December 8, 2006 at 2:31 PM (PDT)

8

@torres#3

Hehe yeah I heard about that “fix”... let’s just say that maybe it resets the iPod but I would bet it doesn’t do good on the hard drive’s longevity…

But as a desperate measure when the iPod’s warranty expired, it’s worth a try. wink

Posted by mrthebunny on December 8, 2006 at 2:42 PM (PDT)

9

Sounds like the old “IBM 6-inch fix”.  About 10 years ago when you had trouble with an IBM hard-drive, you pulled it from the computer, held it 6-inches off the ground and dropped it.  It fixed the issue.  Might have destroyed some data, but at least the drive worked again…

Posted by Nick G on December 8, 2006 at 3:15 PM (PDT)

10

I won’t buy another iPod with a harddrive due to service problems.  My 1st Gen iPod is still running.  My 2nd, 40 gb 4th gen iPod is dead.  THe 4th gen died under Applecare and was replaced.  9 mos. later it died again within one month of Applecare; sent it in; they sent it back and said there was nothing wrong with it.  It was working again—I guess the shipping got the harddrive working—but one month after the Applecare expired it died again.  Apple won’t replace it now so its trash.  Only lasted 2 years.  I’ll stick to my new Nano with with flash memory.  This is the worst experience I’ve had with an Apple product since I purchase my Apple II in 1978!

Posted by davedbw on December 8, 2006 at 5:11 PM (PDT)

11

I have own 7 ipods, so far have no issue on them.

Posted by tysoh on December 8, 2006 at 6:15 PM (PDT)

12

I’ve had an iPod Mini for around 18 months, and after less than 6 months of use its battery started to die. It lasts around 30 minutes now. I’ve bought a new iPod Video 5.5gen in the hopes that the technology has improved enough to prevent these issues.

Here in Australia, we don’t have the luxury of Apple Stores, and it takes weeks to get an iPod replaced, that’s if you can find a retailer! All in all I’m less than impressed with Apple’s products, but that doesn’t mean any other brand is better. Heck, look what brand I have now? Apple iPod… There really isn’t much of a choice… I’m willing to give the iPod another chance I suppose.

Posted by Azztech on December 8, 2006 at 6:51 PM (PDT)

13

My 1G iPod mini is still working great after 26 months, without any huge decrease in battery life.

Posted by Ayala on December 8, 2006 at 8:04 PM (PDT)

14

My oldest iPod, a first gen mini, is still alive and well. I had a 3G iPod that was fried by a faulty auto adapter.

Apple should print this URL on the front of their iPods along with the slogan about not stealing music:

http://www.apple.com/batteries/ipods.html

Posted by btn on December 8, 2006 at 9:42 PM (PDT)

15

Yeah, no kidding about printing the URL. If your iPods battery is failing after 6 months, you’d have to be taxing it pretty heavily. I’ve had my 5G iPod for almost a year now, and its battery life hasn’t decresed noticeably in that time. Of course I actually do what Apple reccommends for prolonging battery life - and I use it every day for several hours.

To the people that have had to replace their iPods numerous times - was that before or after you dropped them in the toliet? Not to sound like a jerk, but if your iPods keep failing the same way each time you get a new/refurbished one, do you think it might be something you’re doing to mistreat them without noticing?

An example: a friend of mine had to replace the power cord for his MacBook Pro after the original broke. When he went to the Apple store to get it replaced, the representative asked him if he was pulling the plug out by yanking the CORD instead of the plug itself. Take a guess. And then my friend started saying it was Apple’s fault for not designing the power cord better.

The point is you don’t have to completely baby your iPod, but you also have to keep in mind that it is a 30+ gig hard drive!

Posted by multimoog on December 9, 2006 at 3:36 AM (PDT)

16

I dont think this is at all true. I have had 3 ipods, and 2 of my 4th gen ipods died (sad ipod) in less than 6 months.
I have had a 5th gen for 5 months. and you can’t use it for 2 hours without it almost running out of battery.

Posted by Daniel on December 9, 2006 at 8:44 AM (PDT)

17

I have BABIED all of my Ipods. they have NEVER left the case and I have NEVER dropped any of them. but still my 4G ipod’s have both died.
so no matter what you do, your ipod will still give you problems.
I just like the Ipod so much (for some reason) that i keep buying them, because all the other media players suck.

Posted by Daniel on December 9, 2006 at 8:50 AM (PDT)

18

Hey, who cares that the failure rate is 5%?  That means that the odds of getting a bad Ipod are 19-1 against. Not great, but not bad either. Thing is, if you get a bad Ipod, all you have to do is return it and get another one! Problem solved.

The more important stat in this article is the one about how happy customers are with their Ipods. 95% of people get a good ipod, and almost everyone goes on to really enjoy it.

Posted by Chris on December 9, 2006 at 10:06 AM (PDT)

19

The flash based pods should be much better for longevity.  I’m sure Apple isn’t exactly crying about the spotty reliability on a $400 purchase, as the mark…. I mean customer then goes out and buys another one- or they buy an Applecare warranty that they’ll never get to use until it’s too late if they’re in the majority.  The Ipod certainly isn’t as reliable as a CD player was.

Posted by Nick on December 9, 2006 at 1:25 PM (PDT)

20

I’ve had a 40GB 4th gen for 2 years, and I use it a LOT, literally 4-8 hours a day, every day. It lives in an otterbox case as I work as a carpenter. The battery life is still good for 6 hours minimum. I’ve had a few freeze ups, that were all resolved by resets. As a hard drive that lives on my hip, I’m AMAZED how durable it is. Would you think you could have a laptop running in a backpack that you wear all day every day never have an issue?
Bottom line, the iPod is a great product.

Posted by jj on December 9, 2006 at 3:40 PM (PDT)

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