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Complaints are mounting over the workmanship of the new iPod Nano.It now emerges that Apple’s customer service staff are stretched to the limit handling complaints that the iPod Nano is too fragile for everyday use.

 The major complaint surrounds the color display screen. In addition complaints are also being made over battery with one Sydney Graphic Designer complaining that she “Only gets 8-9 hours battery life, not the 14 hours claimed by Apple”. Some disgruntled iPod owners also claim it gets scratched too easily. Others complain the screens are cracking. Analysts said the real lesson to be learned from the ongoing Nano debate is the power of the Web as a forum for customer complaints. Weblogs and discussion boards and personal sites allow angry customers to voice their complaints to the world and jumpstart a story that runs over major media wires.When Apple introduced the iPod nano earlier this month, the computer maker billed it as thinner than a standard #2 pencil. Now, what Steve Jobs described as its “impossibly small size” could possibly give Apple executives a large headache.


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That’s because some customers are murmuring that Apple’s US$249 model is too delicate for everyday use. The major complaint surrounds the color display screen. Some disgruntled iPod owners claim it gets scratched too easily. Others complain the screens are cracking. Apple’s Discussions board has nearly 500 posts on the subject. The thread line reads, “Apple is going to have to do something about the scratching.”

“I think Apple is going to have a major problem on their hands when enough of these are sold. They chose a poor material for the nano and will probably have to change it in the manufacturing process soon. .. I have treated mine like a king and it already has a few scratches,” Richard Spangler wrote on Apple’s Discussions board. Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.

Apple’s Defense
As might be expected in the close-knit Apple community, not all consumers are on the nano-bashing bandwagon. Some have written to flawedmusicplayer.com, a site that recounts nano owner Matthew Peterson’s experience with a shattered nano screen, to defend their beloved iPods and its maker.

But the spotlight is still on Peterson, who is suggesting Apple should recall the nano and use a stronger material for its screen. Peterson says Apple has marketed the product to be carried in one’s pocket. He says that is where his nano was when its screen shattered just four days after he purchased it.

An Ars Technica report addressed the issue of nano breakability on September 11. The report concludes that sitting on the nano, dropping it while jogging or dropping it from various heights would render the iPod lifeless. But those are extreme circumstances, concluded Jupiter Research analyst Michael Gartenberg.

Lessons Learned
Gartenberg told MacNewsWorld that the product is designed for ultra-portability, but it is not designed for extreme conditions. “The nano will take normal use, but it’s difficult to keep the player in pristine condition. It is susceptible to nicks and scratches from everyday use,” he said. “But that is the nature of an ultra-portable product.”

Analysts said the real lesson to be learned from the ongoing nano debate is the power of the Web as a forum for customer complaints. Weblogs and discussion boards and personal sites allow angry customers to voice their complaints to the world and jumpstart a story that runs over major media wires.

“Stories like this one demonstrate the importance of every company monitoring what is being said on these discussion boards so they can react,” Gartenberg said. “Even if there is nothing inherently wrong with the product, even if every single one of these instances were user negligence, which may or may not be the case, it doesn’t really matter. You need to respond one way or another.”

The Big Question
The big question that Apple — and its various competitors — want answered is this: Will the complaints and subsequent publicity hurt iPod sales? Gartenberg said he does not expect it to affect iPod revenues one iota.

“The average consumer isn’t going to come in contact with most of these stories,” Gartenberg said. “Their purchase is based on what they see on TV and in print ads. All the other positive associations of the nano will ultimately impact their buying decisions.”

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