“Frustrated iPod owners are angry, their music taken from them by thieves [that] Dateline caught on hidden camera,” Chris Hansen reports for NBC News.
“Dateline investigates if it’s possible, using some of the same high-tech capabilities that make the iPod the phenomenon it is, to track down people who take iPods that don’t belong to them,” Hansen reports.
“The iPod — it’s everywhere. Originally billed as ‘a thousand songs in your pocket,’ it can now hold up to 20,000 songs, 100 hours of video, 25,000 photos–and with a staggering 110 million sold, the device has become an international icon and in an indispensable part of life,” Hansen reports. “But… if you’ve got to have it, so do thieves.”
“We bought dozens of iPods. These were iPods that we’d use as bait to be stolen — or deliberately lost,” Hansen reports “We hired a software company, Blackfin Tech, to help us. Jefferson Jewell runs Blackfin. His solution? To simply demonstrate whether an iPod has the capability of being tracked, we’d create our own database — just like Apple has.”
“We’d try to get basic information from whoever plugged it in, in this case from people the iPods didn’t belong to,” Hansen reports. How would we get the information? Instead of putting used iPods out as bait, we’d use new ones that were brand new in the box. To a thief, they’d be exactly like the real thing.”
“Except for this: with a new iPod, the first thing you normally do is download Apple iTunes software, which allows you to buy and download music as well as provide basic information about the user to Apple,” Hansen reports.
“To get our bait iPods to work, whoever takes them will have to install a disc. What they won’t know is that when they click ‘I Agree’ on a licensing agreement that appears on-screen, they’ll be consenting to provide some of the same kind of information they provide Apple to Dateline,” Hansen reports.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “David” for the heads up.]
Should Apple track down missing iPods for free? Can they even do so for manpower and/or legal reasons? Perhaps, as Newsweek’s Steve Levy suggests in the full piece, Apple could offer such tracking as part of a paid service like AppleCare. In any case, it seems that Apple’s already working on a solution.
In the full article, Hansen also reports that “although Apple declined requests for interviews and comment regarding this report, the company — which consistently ranks at or near the top in customer satisfaction surveys in the tech world — might well turn out to be the hero in our story after all.”
“Why? Just recently came word from the U.S. Patent Office that Apple has applied for a new patent. In its application, Apple confirms that there is a ‘serious problem’ with iPod theft and that iPod owners have been seriously injured or even murdered for their iPods. And the company has proposed an ingenious solution to the problem: essentially, you can’t recharge the iPod or the new iPhone if you can’t prove the device is yours when you hook it up to iTunes,” Hansen reports.