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Open Letter To Apple

It has recently become apparent that Apple does not intend to make the features from its new iPod software available to those of us who already have iPods. I hope this is remedied soon, lest Apple's lack of support become as well known as that of its competitors. I submitted the following via Apple's iPod feedback form and wanted to share it with the rest of you:

Dear Sir or Madam,

My wife gave me a custom-engraved 20GB Windows iPod as an anniversary present, and I absolutely love it. I am, however, greatly disappointed in the lack of support Apple has shown for existing iPod owners and in particular for those of us who purchased Windows-format iPods.

At issue, first, is the fact that Apple has put only a small fraction of the new 2.0 firmware's functionality into a "1.3" release for existing units. As a technology professional of course I understand that the hardware is different and the same firmware binaries might not work on both units, but it is irresponsible not to duplicate this functionality for older units. For the considerable cost of an iPod, its owners should receive the full benefits of Apple's software improvements, for several years at least. My iPod was received just six months ago, just a month after it came on the market. Surely I deserve to see oft-requested features like on-the-fly playlist creation implemented for my iPod.

Second is the issue of Apple's subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination against those of us using Windows-formatted iPods, in the form of missing features like Audible bookmarks and track playcounts, not to mention the delayed availability of even the 1.3 firmware update. These are associated with the choice of MusicMatch Jukebox as the bundled software (which is dubious at best; why not choose XPlay or EphPod, tools developed purely out of love for the iPod and a desire to get the most out of it?). There is no technically sound reason for these shortcomings in the Windows firmware - the FAT32 filesystem is well understood and no harder to work with than HFS.

I am glad that Apple has put resources into updating and enhancing the iPod hardware and software, but it would be most shameful if this was done at the expense of current customers. These devices are not cheap tape or CD players, and we aren't going to run out and buy new ones every year. I expect a respected company like Apple to do everything it can to reward those who are already supporting the company. Given the good design of the iPod I'd been thinking seriously about moving to Apple notebook computers, but I've abandoned that idea, and will not reconsider it unless I see some changes.

If Apple thinks that it can encourage me to invest in MacOS systems by crippling what should be a platform-agnostic device when it's used with my computer, it's sadly mistaken. If Apple thinks that it can encourage me to purchase a new iPod with a slap in the face of recent adopters such as myself, it is utterly wrong. This is utterly cavalier treatment of paying customers, and buying additional products from such a company would be throwing good money after bad.

I strongly urge Apple to rectify these situations. I understand that full Audible support for Windows-formatted iPods is on the way. I hope this is so, and that this update comes with track playcount functionality as well. Even more importantly, bring 2.0 to existing iPods. Treat customers new and old with the respect they deserve, or they will cease to be your customers.




I pretty much told them the same thing, if not in a more crude manner, though I mentioned that they're already supporting customers that they don't even have yet while they leave us, especially we the windows users, out in the dark. I've also looked at purchasing Apple products but I have made a firm decision not to buy another Apple product ever again if this issue is not remedied. This is my first Apple product and may very well be my last! I also mentioned that the features they offer for customers to be are the same ones I've been asking them to implement for us. This is a bad business decision on their part for sure.

This upsets me to. I bought the 20gb ipod just two months ago. And I am obsolete already? That is a shame. Now I enjoy the device and think it is great but come on I get two months of use of the devices and then I cannot get any more updates? How lame is that. I am very disaapointed. If I had any idea this was going to be the case either I would have waited for the new model and bought one of those or bought nothing at all.

I bought the new 20gb based on slightly revised specs over version 1 ipods especially the remote etc. And now....

I am absolutly furious, the "old" iPod models are still on the shelves!! who in their right mind will buy an unsupported device?

I had a chat with my friend at apple, I sent the log to the ipod support team and I also posted it on my site as it expresses my feelings better than any letter.

And I am serious when I say I will not buy another apple product again if this is not addresed. There is no technical reason why these new features cannot be implemented on "old" iPods.

I am disgusted with the guys in apple marketing, adding support for ACC simply because that is what the new online music store uses, and witholding the usefull feature. I mean do they want me to use this or not? If they think they can win me over with an improved music format they better check their heads/.

APPLE and the music labels that signed up with the iTunes store can all go to hell as far as I am concerned. direct connect is still very much alive and well and I am NEVER selling my soul to the consumer culture that this lack of software support represents.

In a parallel discussion over at iPodlounge a few of us have agreed that we'd happily pay a reasonable fee for an more complete firmware update if that's what Apple decided to do. What would be inexcusable would be if they continue not to make such an update available at all.


two months of use? what it doesn't work anymore? are you chasing upgrades, or listening to music?

i mean, come on...you can't expect new features for your old car, a PDA, a take-out lunch, --for free-- when a new one comes out can you? that's a bit much? what are they supposed to do...give you a new one so you'll be happy? do other manufacturers do this?

sounds like you need at least one voice of dissent here. i certainly dont't feel cheated with my "old" ipod...


In fact my PDA has gotten new features via OS updates from the manufacturer (Palm). And in the past Apple has slowly been delivering fixes and improvements in iPod firmware updates. Many people who bought their iPods in the last year or so did so based upon this fact. Kind of sucks if you went out and spent $400+ last week, doesn't it?

In my opinion Apple's biggest crime here is that they took what was probably the feature most often requested by current users (on-the-fly playlist creation) and delivered it only for the new devices. There is no good reason why this feature could not work as well on the old hardware. Apple did release the 1.3 firmware update for the old hardware. It just didn't have much in it.

A large number of iPod users purchased in the last nine months or so, since the last set of new models became available. I'd also bet that a large number of iPod users are college students. The economy sucks. The usual early adopter types are dealing with lower salaries and fewer jobs. How many of them are going to buy a new device just to get 2.0 features that should have been in 1.3? Not too many.

I disagree. PDAs are expected as handhelds to get some degree of functionality because their expected use is far broader in scope. An iPod is a music player, otherwise, Apple would sell "a mini-computer with upgradeable features, you can hold us to it because we promised you, and, oh, it's a music player". Don't you think that if that upgradeability was a major feature, they'd market it as such? Like a PDA?

I personally bought a music player, not a mini-computer. There's a clear distinction. Terms like "should have been" or "no good reason" are subjective, and are conjecture at best. What if there were insurmountable technical hurdles to add to these features to older model? What if it truly wasn't cost-effective to do it?

If the economy is bad, what are you doing going out as an early adopter and buying new technology whilst it sucks your wallet dry and complaining about it anyway? Isn't that sort of preposterous?

Adrian's comment previously of having a device outdated as soon as a new one comes out sort of shocks me. Surprise! Technology becomes outdated...but your iPod still works as a pretty-darned-good music player, yes?

Perhaps your efforts will be rewarded, and I'll have you and many others to thank when Apple does release an update for my older iPod. But these are new features I'm simply not missing, nor expected, and it was with the clear understanding that I'll only be using it for the features I read about when I purchased the iPod at the time.


is open source "cost-effective"?

Like I said on ipodlounge.com this goes far deeper than marketing vs consumers and, after several years of (ab)use, I am selling my mac. I don't want my ass branded by a company that retards and manipulates technology (with cheap excuses) into a glossy easy to swallow product.

If they can be upgraded to play AAC why cant they put the new feautures on the old ipods which have the same guts as the new ones.

I will tell you why,

1) to sell more ipods.
2) to allow people to use the new online music store.

two things that really rub my fur backwards.

these devices may be sold as a music player, but the line between a dumb device, such as a gameboy (which cannot and will not be upgraded), and an expensive upgradable electronic device with computer conectivity and obviously upgradable firmware.

this IS the final straw.

I was glad to receive my second-generation iPod. I'd done a lot of research, and knew that Apple had been taking user feedback and issuing firmware updates in the past. I am as happy with my iPod as I was before the latest models came out. It does what it always did, and it does it very well. What I'm no longer happy with is Apple, which seems to be changing their attitude toward current users. I'm glad they've coming out with new models and features, and they clearly continue to create great technology. But as Oliver said, if they can add AAC decoding capability (or patch the battery-management software), why not playqueueing? I have not yet heard of any technical reasons, and as a software engineer myself I rather expect that there aren't any.

It interests me also that no one has defended Apple for the way they've shorted features in Windows-format models. Woo-hoo! Guess I'd better "switch" ;). I begin to understand why Mac owners have been making rueful jokes about Apple management for all of these years. It's too bad, because they make some great stuff.

I really hope they come around.

There's another good discussion over at iPodlounge asking for the playqueuing feature.

I heard about your lack of AAC support songdog, although I could go off on another rant about open source, heres something that might make you care less ;)

%2.1 and dropping


Thanks, Oliver :)

Apple got it wrong from the start with the Windows iPod, we have never had feature parity.

I did purchase the iPod expecting some functionality updates, i'm sure that i'm not the only one. I do expect with a media device for it to keep on adapting and changing, specifically one that obviously has the capacity to do so.

To be honest all i need is the on the go playlist, something that i can't believe Apple didn't include, the games etc i don't care about. This is core music functionality.

One more point, all the other products in this space have an ever expanding list of software mods.

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