Al Kooper On Apple

You & I have usually been on different sides of the fence re: iTunes.

Last year Apple made SO many errors in the planning and running of iTunes, that I finally was badly alienated.

Now I still PARTICIPATE, because a successor hasn’t shown its head yet, unfortunately. Microsoft, perhaps?

Here’s what’s wrong with iTunes:

a) iTunes is a digital record STORE. It is NOT a record company. Yet, little by little, this STORE refined its product from the universal mp3 until THEY controlled when & where it could be played after you bought it. No STORE has ever had the balls to do ANYTHING like that. Not Tower, not Virgin, not Best Buy, not Borders, etc. When you walk out of those stores you can play your music wherever and whenever you want. It is far from that way at iTunes

b) New release day is Tuesday. Little by little Apple stalled putting up new releases until they were averaging Thursday night as the time of delivery. They have a page that’s accessible from the homepage if you click on "See All." This takes you to a page that has 5 vertical rows listing the new releases of the last five weeks including the current one. At first, when they failed to get the new releases uploaded on Tuesday, they would push ahead the releases they had listed so that September 22nd releases from last week, were now labeled September 29th, so the average Joe would think they were on time. They wouldn’t make any announcement that the new releases were going to be uploaded two days later and you couldn’t write in and tell them they sucked for doing this. It’s been a tradition in the music biz for decades to release new stuff on Tuesdays. Apple didn’t care because they feel above all others. Why this crack team of technology doesn’t care to put the new releases up by 8 AM Eastern time on Tuesday befuddles me – but they don’t say a peep about it. Nowadays they just shut down the Apple Store ALTOGETHER so that you can’t even access it on Tuesdays. This week they put a sign up, but they were online by Tuesday night because it’s their first week of selling movies you can’t play anywhere you want. When you clicked on the various new music releases, a window came up saying: this item cannot be downloaded at the moment. Try again later. GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!! I hate the way they treat their loyal customers. They’re actually WORSE than record companies.

c) After four years, you still can’t get any info on a track when you buy it. No producer, no group individual names, no backing musicians, no songwriters, no nuthin’. On about a third of the rereleases, you CAN download a booklet IF you buy the WHOLE album, and most of their clientele, don do dat no mo. So thanks for all the help and insight.

Apple does not communicate with its customers in a forthright, honest way. Even music insiders such as myself are kept away from trying to help or complain or talk to ANYBODY from iTunes. It makes the hair on the back of my neck bristle. Their final blow will come when they raise prices, the opposite of which was what got them to the party in the first place. They can lower the prices on the planned obsolescent, unrepairable, poorly constructed iPods all they want. They STILL charge you over $100 to change the battery and don’t guarantee or freely repair the junk after the 12 month warranty runs out. Hell, with no warranty, they claim they CAN’T repair them at  all. With a warranty, they just hand over a new one if repairs are necessary other than software glitches. The personnel in their Apple Stores you can actually walk into, don’t know how to repair anything but software glitches. If there’s a short in your control wheel, they just shrug their shoulders and offer a trip back to the factory for your no under warranty pod and a price fix of $265. Absurd! Ludicrous!

Now the shoes are on the other feet.

You are writing a column about how WONDERFUL Apple is

And I am taking the other side this time, Mr. P2P

Ahhhhh, you’re still a great writer, Bob and I’ll always hang with ya
BUT we’ll NEVER agree on Apple.

Apple Kooper

I can’t speak to the iTunes Music Store issues Mr. Kooper delineates above, I steal all my music!  I believe ninety nine cents for a copy-protected track is heinous, and only if we protest the labels’ efforts to keep us wedded to the past, i.e. the CD pricing model, will there ultimately be more music for more people at a lower aliquot per track price, which is the promise of online/Internet music.

Furthermore, if it weren’t for the paranoid labels and their insistence on DRM, which Apple did not want to employ, Mr. Kooper’s first point above would be nullified.  AAC is an open standard.  But it’s the FairPlay DRM that makes the tracks unusable on other hand-held devices.

As for failed iPod batteries…  You can certainly get them replaced for under $100 by third parties, but a cursory search of the site renders this result:

iPod Out-of-warranty Battery Replacement Program

stating that you can get your battery replaced by Apple for a total of $65.95, which includes shipping.  Yet I have a beef with Apple.  With regard to the dreaded not replacing your failed under warranty unit with a brand new iPod policy.  I had an original 40 gig iPod.  It failed.  I got a replacement via the Apple Store in Santa Monica.  The edges were rough, probably because the unit had been taken apart for repair.  Furthermore, within weeks, oftentimes one could not wake the iPod up (i.e. it was frozen) without rebooting it by holding down the Menu and Select buttons for ten seconds

iPod service request

This problem continues to this day.  Oh, I can get the unit to start up eventually, but this iPod was not swag, it was paid for in full, although a gift.

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