OK, I’ve made my confession and obviously sent a shockwave around the tech world. It’s true and I’m sorry if it seems like I’ve been a hypocrite all this time.BUT… I’ve stopped using it and will never do it again. I promise.
Clearly my ownership needs explanation so let me try and justify myself. I live in the Atlanta metro area and spend a lot of time in my car. If you’ve never been in Atlanta during “rush hour” you should try it sometime. The way I pass time in my car is listening to audiobooks. Back in the 80’s and 90’s it was BooksOnTape. You picked your books from a catalog, called in your selection (landline) and they shipped you a box of cassette tapes via the US Mail. I know kids… can’t imagine.
With the invention and adoption of MP3 technology, audiobooks moved to the web and MP3 players. I moved from tapes to MP3 in 2002 joining audible.com. Apple had just announced the original iPod but Audible offered their own custom MP3 player called the Otis seen here to the right. You could get it free for signing up for a one year subscription.
As MP3 player technology became commoditized my Otis, with no new models coming out, became antiquated. But I stayed with it until 2007. At that point I purchased a 3rd generation iPod Nano; you know the little square ones. That’s when iTunes entered my life. There was no way to get the Audible books on my iPod except via iTunes. So I ignored the warnings from my virus protection software and installed it on my desktop. I felt cheap.
I weathered the chiding of family members for several years as they saw me using the singular Apple product in my technology life. I weathered multiple iTunes upgrades which had little effect on me since I did manual “sync”, that is, I only did “drag and drop” to move books from my iTunes library to the iPod. I was pretty proficient, I could connect my iPod and have it reloaded with new books in a couple of minutes.
Then one day this past January I was about to run out the door for my morning 60 minute commute and remembered that I expected to finished my then current audiobook that day and needed to load a new book that I had already downloaded. I ran to my desktop, plugged in the iPod and waited for iTunes to pop up. But to my horror it was a very different iTunes and my audiobooks were nowhere to be seen. You can’t imagine my fear of being stuck in traffic with no audiobook, so I started to panic. After a couple of minutes trying to figure it out I disconnected and headed for the car thinking that if I ran out that day, I’d just restart an existing book.
That evening I came to a decision… it was time to end my clandestine relationship with Apple. The next day I went to Fry’s and purchased a Philips GoGear MP4 player for less than $40. I came home and immediately uninstalled iTunes (and QuickTime) from my desktop… it was the end of an iPod era. I took a picture for posterity (on the left). The feeling was existential. It was liberating. Live free or die.