There was actually one other bit of iPod-related news right at the tail end of last week, but we doubt it contributed much, if any, to Apple's little stock dip. What's the number one complaint among iPod owners that isn't related to battery life? No radio, you say? Well, okay, not what we were going for, but fair enough. So what's number two? Oh, right-- no music-quality line-in recording. Um, well, okay-- number three?
No fuzzy faux leopard-skin model? Really?
Look, this isn't quite going in the direction we'd hoped, so let's fast-forward a little: what's the number 14 complaint among iPod owners that isn't related to battery life?
Aha! Yes! They're not recyclable! Thank you! See, there are certain environmental groups complaining that the iPod is a totally disposable chunk of commodity consumer electronics; when iPods die, people are likely to just toss 'em in a landfill and buy a new one. And considering that an iPod consists of, among other things, bits of plastic and a potentially earth-unfriendly battery, there's a valid concern here, especially if the iPod's sales growth hasn't really leveled off and people keep chewing through them as quickly as they are. But have no fear, eco-angsters, because Apple has finally announced an iPod Recycling Program.
Yes, according to an Apple press release, if you've got a dead iPod or two kickin' around in your junk drawer taking up valuable used-disposable-lighter space, now you can bring 'em into any US Apple retail store for "environmentally friendly disposal." What's more, the program is free, which is good news for people who've always looked slightly askance at Apple's perfectly-reasonable-but-still-a-slight-bummer $30 fee for taking back old Macs. And hey, it gets even better than that: not only will Apple take back your old iPod for free, but it'll also give you an immediate 10 percent discount on a new iPod if you buy it when you turn in your old one. So for a base 20 GB iPod, that means they're paying you 30 smackers to recycle your 'Pod corpses. You can't ask for more than that. Not without getting slapped, anyway.
Now, obviously it costs Apple money to dispose of these things properly (what exactly does "Earth friendly" disposal consist of, anyway? Burying them on Venus?), and Apple is in the business of making money as opposed to throwing fistfuls of cash out the window of a speeding car-- so what's in it for Apple? Evidently, whatever Apple's profit is on a single $299 iPod, it's more than $30 plus whatever it costs to recycle one, so it's in Apple's best financial interests to push this program. And gee, we wonder how many participants are going to be customers with still-functional but "so last year" models using the program as a trade-in offer instead of as a trash recycling initiative? Will it possibly spur more and earlier iPod disposal/replacement, thus consuming more of the planet's resources and increasing the load of waste, albeit environmentally stored waste? Is this more of a shrewd sales promotion than an act of concern for the planet?
Not that we particularly care or anything. We're mostly just stoked that a dead 1st-gen iPod for ten bucks on eBay can score us $45 off a top-of-the-line iPod photo. Ha!