The first rule of Exploding iPod Club …

Steve Jobs may want to put in an order for a new velvet glove; the old one just doesn’t seem to be cushioning his iron fist the way it used to. Instead of quietly and gratefully accepting the wonderfulness that emerges from his company’s closed systems and tight control, a growing number of malcontents are starting to chafe, and descriptions of him as a “dictator” are no longer automatically preceded by the adjective “benevolent.” These days, Jobs is finding his ability to blow off or hush up criticism on the wane.

Oh, sure, it was easy enough to stonewall all those whiny bloggers and nosy reporters on the reasons behind the rejection of Google Voice and related products from the App Store (see “Apple gags Google Voice for iPhone“). Let them blather all they want about Apple and AT&T stifling competition and innovation — if Jobs and company don’t feel like explaining, who’s going to make them? But now there’s this year’s model of the FCC, featuring greater resolution and a faster response time, asking the same questions, and that’s going to require either some uncomfortably open disclosures or some impressive semantic tap-dancing in reply.

And the pushback against Apple’s culture of secrecy isn’t restricted to regulators; even customers are getting harder to keep in line. Take, for example, Ken Stanborough of Liverpool, who dropped his daughter’s iPod Touch, after which it started hissing ominously. The device started getting hot, and Stanborough heaved it out the back door. “Within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10 feet in the air,” he told the Times. He talked to the retailer about a refund and eventually got a letter from Apple denying liability but offering him his money back. But there were strings. By accepting the refund, the letter said, Stanborough would “agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential,” and that any breach of confidentiality “may result in Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties.” Stanborough wouldn’t play ball. “They’re putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie’s mum not to say anything to anyone. If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling. We didn’t ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back.”


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  • Bryan Harrison

    Thanks for reporting this in such scathing terms. In the absence of government regulation, corporations never represent any interest but profit. Apple has relatively superior products and customer service only because that’s a market Microsoft and others are unable to address. Corporations are not gracious in victory – the moment Apple or any of them becomes #1, it will also become a destructive monster.

    Given that we aren’t allowed to vote for any representative actually interested in changing this situation, the best we can do as citizens is periodically to hang a few admirals.

    Clearly it’s time to erect a gallows in Cupertino. Those who cannot love must fear.

  • Hue Mann

    Some one in the shipping department obviously screwed up . . . did that one come out of the box of ones going into the SWAG bags at the MS Exec retreat.

    When the dust finally settles and the historians feast on desecrated carcass of the current culture, the Borgia’s reputation will have some stiff competition.

  • Maybe they ought to get together over a beer at the White House and clear things up.

  • Acer

    When I drop a can of soda and it explodes, I don’t expect my money back. If they offered it great, but I wouldn’t feel bad about the product; it’s definitely not supposed to explode, but it’s not supposed to be dropped either.

  • mon toyler

    I hope you’re not talking about absence of government regulation and no interest but profit like they’re bad things. People who want lots of government regulation and intervention (I’m not assuming you’re one of them, I’m just saying this) are truly misguided. It’s our responsibility as consumers to buy responsibly. If a company does wrong, consumers need to make sure they’re not seeing the greens. “Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have. The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.” Thomas Jefferson.

  • som1uno

    Watch the documentary movie “The Corporation” – they want and have gotten all the rights of individuals without the responsibilities.
    They have no soul to save and no body to incarcerate – they’re “corporations” and they have bought and paid for your representative to ignore you.

  • Badger

    Andy graybeal:

    I see what you did there and I LOL’D

  • Sean r

    patent pending on an app i call ‘hand-grenade’

  • tommy

    Apple can reject or accept whatever “apps” it wants. liberals man…crying “MORE FCC REGULATION!!!”, while they read this story on their dell’s (pre-laoded with vista of course) google is just bitching because apple is a competitor. Google should come out with a cell phone that is better than the iphone, and then they can put whatever kind of crappy apps they want on it…. let the consumer decide.

    “Apple has relatively superior products and customer service only because that’s a market Microsoft and others are unable to address”
    i know how MS can address the inferior product, and crappy cust. service problems. Quit throwing up home runs like zune and half-assed-vista!!! as far as the lack of service goes, start caring more about the consumer than the fact that apple might take 1 or 2 percentage points of your 90% market share…

    quit whining

  • It’s about time…I’ve never understood why Apple feels the need to be as opaque as possible to iPhone developers. I get that they don’t want to be seen as helping or influencing app production, but it’s been, what, a year since the App Store opened? And already developers are abandoning the platform for another SDK that will, you know, tell you what you’re allowed to do with it before wasting the better part of a year writing code. And no one at Apple saw this coming?

  • {{{DSFfajdsn##########(©)(©)

    not that I care but I bet a lot of articles like this appearing on digg/reddit are part of a propaganda infowar between m$ or g00gle and apple. they’re all nazis. I want to switch from osx to linux. free wins.

  • A_Common_Joe

    Sounds like a great time to buy that IiPhone coverage that AT&T is always pushing. Wonder if it just went up in price…