Will alleged iPod nano screen issues hurt Apple’s sales?

“The high street chain Dixons says it was selling an average of five [Apple iPod nano units] per minute over the weekend… Except… the story that first appeared here last week, about how amazingly easily the screen scratches, has spread far and wide, and so far down the food chain that even local and national newspapers have written about it. Oh dear,” Charles Arthur writes for Th Register. “More importantly, the post on Apple’s discussion boards discussing the issue has grown from 188 posts to 583 (at last count), and now includes people who have cancelled their orders. Ooooh dear.”

“So what, we asked Apple, is it going to do about those screens? The reply: ‘Apple has no comment at this time.’ Stores will decide for themselves whether to swap scratched or broken machines,” Arthur writes. “If Apple has used a different polycarbonate formula for the Nano, then it should be able to change that in the manufacturing process, which will mean later versions – even in the next few weeks – will be better. But that creates the ticklish media management problem of whether to say that the new versions are tougher (because that implies the older ones were soft). Past form from the ‘cracked Cube’ episode suggests Apple will blithely ignore all the hubbub, leave stores to choose between annoyed customers or profits, and use a harder polycarbonate compound in future, if not at once.”

“But there’s another problem. If Apple can’t get this right, then the launch of the fabled (but now confidently expected) video iPod will stutter as would-be early adopters wait for someone else to buy one and test the screen. That could give an important lead to existing products like the Sony Playstation Portable, and breathe new life into Sony’s flagging finances,” Arthur writes. “Then again, who are we kidding? Seeing how the iPod battery life gave rise to a whole branch of iPod battery replacement companies, it may be more realistic to expect that this problem is going to lead to a whole new species within the iPod ecosystem: companies marketing scratch-filling plastic polishes for iPod screens.”

Full article here.

Related articles:
flawedmusicplayer.com website alleging iPod nano ‘screen flaws’ hosted on Apple’s .Mac – September 26, 2005
SiliconValley.com editor: ‘The iPod nano is fast becoming Apple’s next Cube’ – September 26, 2005
iPod nano ‘screen issues’ really just FUD? – September 26, 2005
Alleged problems surfacing with Apple iPod Nano screen – September 26, 2005
Site reports iPod nano screen failures – September 23, 2005
Thurrott: Apple iPod nano is almost perfect – September 23, 2005
Inside Apple’s iPod nano; how healthy are Apple’s margins? – September 22, 2005
CNET iPod nano review: ‘Sets new standards, stretches boundaries of tech, Apple’s done it again’ – September 16, 2005
The New York Times’ Pogue states iPod’s Law: the impossible is possible – September 14, 2005
Associated Press praises Apple iPod nano, takes swipe at Microsoft WMA-based also-ran music services – September 14, 2005
Apple’s music competition having tough time and the iPod nano won’t help them – September 14, 2005
One of big stars at Microsoft’s PDC show: Apple’s iPod nano; Microsoft reps ‘in awe’ – September 14, 2005
Piper Jaffray: Apple seeing high demand for iPod nano – September 14, 2005
Australian IT: Apple iPod nano ‘a little bar of techno-joy’ – September 14, 2005
Apple iPod nano takes a beating and keeps on beating – September 12, 2005
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Tech pundit Enderle: ‘iPod Nano is a hit,’ Motorola ROKR ‘simply doesn’t have enough Apple in it’ – September 07, 2005
Jupiter analyst Gartenberg: ‘the market is going to go for Apple iPod nano in a big way’ – September 07, 2005
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Video of Steve Jobs introducing iPod nano, ROKR iTunes phone now available online – September 07, 2005
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  1. It most certainly will hurt Nano sales, from the amount of people who’ve returned and cancelled their orders, I’d say it already has. This story is spreading fast. It won’t be long till it’s on the local news stations.

    It’s too bad really, all the bad PR for Apple’s biggest commercial product ever.

    All they really need to do is step up and make it right.

  2. I doubt it will SIGNIFICANTLY hurt sales….

    Face it… the Battery issue did not noticeably hurt sales any either…

    Most people who buy these things are not Mac users and CERTAINLY not geeks who read techie websites…

    They are average joes and janes who see the commercial and want one.

    Don’t believe that? Then go hand out at stores that are selling them and see what kind of customers are there… You’ll quickly learn that these people are clueless, and the vast majority will not even complain about hte scratches… Oh, and I saw one at the Apple store the other day and indeed it was VERY scratched, but was the screen unusable? Hardly. From certain angles, the light hit it and made the screen hard to read, but that was easily dealt with by changing the angle.

    I believe Apple needs to fix this, and I also feel they need to give customers replacements… but overall, it’s plastic, and it’s no more or less scratched than a typical iBook case… It’s just that area over the screen is also scratched…

    If nothing else, Apple should include electrostatically adhesive screen protectors and a note of warning.

    Otherwise, leave the aftermarket to develop the solution, which they already have… cleaners, scratch removers, and protectors.

  3. It remains to be seen if this will be a real issue I still think Apple will make them tougher now in any case – and as I said earlier, I think they will try to do it quietly if they can. This is gonna hurt though. You would think that they would have had people walking around with them in their pocket as a test for quite a while before the launch. Maybe this is one of the drawbacks of having to keep things so hush hush up until the launch.

    From a personal standpoint, I think I can attest to the fact that this has hurt sales. I had to tell two people who were asking me about the nano earlier and were all ready to buy that maybe they should hold off for a bit to see how this all pans out. I love Apple products and love to recommend them but the reason I can do this with impunity is because I know they are the best and no one will come back to me complaining that I steered them wrong.

    At any rate, I think this will probably blow over in a few weeks as long as Apple addresses the issue quickly and decisively.

  4. I agree with Mike. Step up and make it right. The fallout will be 10x’s worse if the they choose to ignor it rather than admitting a problem and fixing it. If fixed the public will return to their stores in droves.

  5. We have sold quite a few nanos here at the bookstore and have not had ONE complaint about the screen or scratches. People are prolly overreacting and just need to take better care of their stuff. I had one customer who came in and had accidentially set the language on his to korean/japanese or something – he left the plastic static cover on that it had out of the box so he couldn’t scratch the front. A smart thing to do until more covers hit the market (and we reset the language to english BTW).

  6. I still would like to see some independent proof of these claims. All of the photos on the flawedmusicplayer site are not the product of damage simply from scratches. It’s easy to see that they’ve had excessive pressure placed directly on the LCD screen in one way or another. I own a nano and it certainly doesn’t seem to scratch any easier than my 30GB photo model, so I’d like to see a real world independent test done.

  7. I do not have problem with 4G iPod and nano screen. I did not peel off the nano plastic film and got a protective case for iPod. I think because the ipod screen is bigger then nano, so the same size of scratch on nano compare to ipod can be easily visible to a lot of people. It is like I look at a scratch on 4G iPod screen with a manifier glass. The nano screen is higher resolution than 4G iPod. ++ The most important factor in this equation is the fact that many people use the nano to look up for photo verse a lot of 1G-4G iPod black and white colour that primarily only use to select the playlist. My friend has Nintendo DS with a lot (a lot )of scratch at the center, but he has no problem playing the game or complain about it. Again my iPod and iPod nano have no single scratch on the screen, and only some scratch on G4iPod around the click wheel result from the stupid stitches of the protective case that keep scratch my iPod. Buy a good protection gear is my first advice and do not peel off plastic film cover nano is my second advice.

  8. Apple’s great, but never buy their early versions of anything:

    -OS X 10.0-10.1 slow
    -First release of Panther–buggy
    -First release of Tiger–buggy
    -Original iPod–battery issues
    -Al Powerbook – white spots
    -iBook – logic board failures
    -Cube – cracks
    -iTunes 5.0 (OK its free) but the list can go on and on…

  9. I abuse my portable electronics like they were Iraqi prisoners. I haven’t had any problem with the nano’s screen itself. The polycarb surface, on the other hand…

    As for the shell, scratches are much more obvious on the black surface, and the screen. I was initially annoyed that there were no cases available for the nano when it came out, but my nano’s screen scratched just from taking it out of the wrapper. Since the screen was scuffed already it didn’t make much sense to worry about the lack of case.

    I don’t think the nano is any more prone to this than the other pods, though…my white 3G pods are covered with scratches, but they aren’t all that apparent on a white surface and comparatively dim, black and white screen.

  10. I just noticed that my Seiko $500 sports watch with a hardened glass front has scratches on it from banging into walls and when my knuckles drag on the ground (short legs). I want a replacement!

    Get real people. All accessories we carry get scratches (jewelry, credit cards, pens, shoes). We use them until they wear out, or clean/polish them or put up with the scuffs. Why should the Nano be any different?

    Look at all the old PowerBook/Thinkpad laptops with scuffed corners, missing keys, coffee stains and missing pixels. The problem is the Nano looks so cool (like our old ThinkPads) that we want them to stay that way forever. If we leave our Nano’s on our desks they would be OK, but then we couldn’t show them off could we!

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