Everest climber who dissed Apple iPod while praising Creative MuVo found to have ties with Creative

“Neal Mueller has a problem with his iPod: it doesn’t work at the highest point on Earth. Mueller, a first year graduate student at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, complains that the iPod he brought with him to climb Mt. Everest crapped out, though his Creative MuVo kept on pumping the Van Halen,” Dan Moren reports for MacUser.

Moren reports, “According to the Apple tech specs for the iPod 5G (I’m going to assume that’s what he was using, since he references a hard drive), the operating temperatures are 32°-95°F (or 0°-35°C); they’re even nice enough to provide the maximum operating altitude, 10,000 feet. Mt. Everest’s summit averages -2°F (or -19°C) in its warmest month, July; its altitude is around 29,028 feet. Now, Neal, I’m sorry that your iPod didn’t survive the trip to the top, but complaining that it doesn’t work 34 degrees below the low threshold of its operating temperature and almost 20,000 feet above its maximum altitude is like being upset because your car doesn’t work underwater.”

Moren reports, “Instead of sticking with his experience of climbing Mt. Everest, Mueller decides to fall back upon fallacious iPod myths:”

The MuVo is an open system and can accept music from a variety of sources. By comparison, iPods live in their own little world. They only work with custom cords and other special accessories. They only work with their own music format. Basically, the iPod perpetuates its own exclusive clique. It’s no team player. – Neal Mueller

Moren writes, “I don’t even know where to start. Yes, I suppose the iPod does only work with ‘special accessories,’ of which there are only over 3000… Then there’s the good old “iPod only plays its own music format.” I’m assuming he’s referring to AAC. One: Apple doesn’t own AAC; it’s an open format. Apple owns the FairPlay DRM scheme which it uses to encrypt AAC files sold through iTunes. Two: The iPod can, of course, also play MP3s, which are still far and away the most prevalent digital music format in existence. Either way, you’re hardly limited to music bought from the iTunes Store.”

Watching my fellow climbers lug their broken iPods up and down Mount Everest gave me some strong opinions. I’d go as far as to say I think Paris Hilton is to Hollywood what the iPod is to portable music players. Both are radiant, glossy and coveted, and like any flash-in-the-pan they are overpriced and cantankerous. When a device is priced at a considerable premium and derives the majority of its sales from chic mystique or verve, I say it’s a fad. My climbing friends agree, making our team 100 percent anti-iPod. Buying an iPod for its musical value is like buying a BMW for its high-speed cornering. The iPod is conspicuous gadget consumption. It’s bling. – Neal Mueller

Moren responds in his full article here.

Moren did some digging and found something not that surprising, “It seems that under the list of sponsor companies that have provided him with gear on his climbs, you’ll find Creative Labs… If you click on the link to Creative on Mueller’s sponsor page, it take you to the product page for the MuVo, meaning, I presume, that the player was given to him by Creative.

Moren writes, “I’m not suggesting that the story of the iPod dying and the MuVo surviving are in anyway untrue. Nor am I accusing Mueller of being some sort of shill. I do, however, think it’s irresponsible of him to not disclose his relationship with Creative, if in fact the player was given to him. Despite the fact that Mueller isn’t a journalist, this piece appeared in a major national newspaper. It seems to me a move of questionable integrity.”

Full article here.
Follow the money.


  1. Follow the money indeed.

    I am skeptical about his over the top characterization of his band of merry adventurers being “all anti-iPod”.

    I know the iPod. I’ve sold the iPod. I’ve owned 4 of them. The iPod wouldn’t be a success if it wasnt a good product, and it is. For him to say that its all a fad immediately removes a lot of credibility from his argument.

    And that line about “lugging” their iPods up mt Everest you’d think they were all rolling bowling balls up the side of the mountain with their noses.

    This whole article smells of corporate influenced bias.

  2. What are Apple playing at? I mean they’re missing out on the lucrative Everest Mountaineer market, if they’re not careful the other players will take over because Apple isn’t trying to compete in that market, if they don’t sort this out sharpish it will be too late.

  3. What bad logic.

    I tried to bring my iPod to the top of Everest. It didn’t work. The Creative did. So, everyone that is buying iPods is doing it because it’s a fad. I’m anti-iPod now.

    How many people who buy iPods need them to work at the top of Everest?

  4. This is completely ridiculous: operating the device, even at base camp altitude of 15,000 ft, is obviously outside the stated bounds of the device’s working parameters.

    He might as well complain his tea’s not hot enough because water boils at such a low temperature up there.

    And I agree with Daner: climbing Everest is a technical, dangerous and deadly endevour. The fact that he’s lugging _two_ MP3 players around with him (one of which doesn’t even work there!) on this climb exemplifies just what kind of person Neal is.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.