The wife had a birthday. I bought her a present: an iPod Photo, because she wanted to be able to show our photos on it. I also got a Firewire cable, because her computer is a 2001 iBook, which has Firewire, and USB 1.1 (”slow USB”). You’d need to be immortal, and patient with it, to load up a 20GB iPod over slow USB. Firewire was the thing that made the original iPod a revelation - remember? The songs whizzed over in a way that with USB 1.1 they most definitely don’t, and didn’t. I also got her an iTrip, because her car doesn’t have a cassette player, so you have to send the music as FM radio and tune in to that.
We went on a work/holiday trip to Australia and New Zealand and magically managed not to lose the iPod over the course of nine flights halfway around the world and back again, with three kids and even more suitcases in tow, and stopovers that lasted a single night. We packed and repacked and we didn’t lose it.
Until, that is, we got to Heathrow. Somewhere between the landing and getting into our car, the iPod escaped. We searched everything but - gone without a trace.
So, ho hum, claim it on the travel insurance. There’s a £50 excess, but it could be worse. And indeed, they did accept that we’d not got it, and with a little note from Heathrow Lost Property (for which HLP charges £5..) they repaid us the cost of the original, minus that £50.
OK, so let’s buy a replacement iPod. Oooops - in the period between us getting home and the claim being approved, Apple has released not one, but two replacement iPods.
And neither one takes data over Firewire.
Oh, great. So here’s the choice: buy a new iPod, and suck up the price of a new iTrip (because the old one won’t fit the new connectors), and also suck up the fact that it will load slowly as hell, because Firewire doesn’t work.
Or descend into one of the vaguely outer circles of hell, and try to find someone who sells iPod Photos reliably. Tried the local Dixons, ready to bargain them down on price (”it’s obsolete.. people know there’s a video one..”) but they were finished, and awaiting video iPods.
Next stop (via Google) was a company called MyDV.co.uk. I tried ringing the London number: it turned out to be connected to an office in the US. MyDV is a front; Google them and you’ll find a lot of people who’ve paid money but seen little. I decided to avoid.
Next, a company that seemed to have a good price. Until, that is, you add in the VAT and P&P, by which time it goes up beyond the price of a new video iPod. Riiiight.
Finally (via Kelkoo) a company that does have a decent price - Computer Warehouse, for £179 inc P&P, and no VAT tricks. We’ll see how long it takes.
But it would have been a hell of a lot easier if Apple had simply stayed with Firewire, instead of throwing out its baby with the bathwater. And people wonder why consumers get annoyed at the way the computer industry changes formats for no apparent sensible reason.
(Update: noticed “Why Firewire will never make it” at Ian Hobson’s blog. OK, so it might not, but it would still be nice if people with four-year-old computers made by Apple could use a ten-year-old Apple technology to transfer songs to a new Apple product in something less than geological time.)