Dropping iClangers

Somewhere in my office, there's a Clanger that I've dropped. He's gorgeous, with his little pink nose and strange honking noises, a present from a very nice lady I used work with called Lindsay. He's this kind of Clanger rather than the foot-in-mouth variety. I'm sure he's around here somewhere — unless one of the kids has run off with him.

The slightly more common foot-in-mouth variety came up at MacTheForum the other day in regards to predicting what Apple will or won't do. It's an exceptionally tricky pastime, whether you're in the rumours and speculation game, or just trying to analyse what Apple's doing and whether it will in fact work. And it's an area where I'm not too proud to say that I've dropped the odd clanger myself.

When the topic came up in the forum my mind was cast back to an Apple-specific prediction I'd made about eight years ago. In fact, as I write this, eight years and one month ago precisely. There's probably nothing numerically significant in that, but I'm not sure I can make that as an absolute prediction with any guarantee of accuracy.

Anyway, eight years ago was well before I'd bought my first Apple product, to give some perspective. It took some digging around, but on the web, nothing ever dies, and the column I originally wrote, entitled "iPod For Windows. What's the iDea?" is, pretty much exactly where I left it — although my headshot (which if memory serves featured me with a Lex Luthor style bald skull) is strangely missing.

Perspective is an interesting thing. For a start, a 5GB iPod doesn't cost $645 any more, something we should all be grateful for. I wonder if there's any 5GB Firewire-only iPods out there still ticking along? What happens if you take one into a Genius bar to get a battery replacement? Anyway, I'm skipping over the core thing, which is that I was, indeed, wrong.

At the time I figured opening up the iPod to the Windows market was a risky step for a company like Apple that, at the time, wasn't the healthiest of critters. History has proven me wrong; the iPod acted not as a single-unit purchase but a gateway drug for plenty of what used to be called "switchers" to jump over to the Mac platform.

Heck, I'm one of them, although not via iPod; my first actual iPod was an iPod Touch that's in front of me as I type this. Apple's still removed me from an almost embarrassing amount of my money in the intervening period, with a MacBook, iMac, two iPod touches and two iPhones bouncing around the house, so clearly it's not in particular trouble ... yet. But I'd better stop making such predictions.

If I am to salvage some credibility, I'll note that while Apple did step away from the Windows-only MusicMatch Jukebox software solution, it replaced it with iTunes. Ever talked to a Windows user about iTunes? There's not a whole lot of love there. The Windows version of iTunes is, to put it nicely, a dog. Really bad, really unstable code. Yes, OS X can have its problems, and as I've outlined previously, it doesn't always "just work", but the Windows version of iTunes is so particularly crash-prone, often (so I'm told by those that suffer with it) taking the contents of the iPod or iPhone with it, that it's almost enough to convince me that Apple's done it that way on purpose to shift Windows users towards OS X.

But Apple wouldn't be that deliberately devious — would it?

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got a Clanger to find. He's probably off conversing with the Soup Dragon about some other bold prediction I made years ago, and how daft it was in hindsight.

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