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Tuesday, November 07, 2006, 01:00 pm PT (04:00 pm ET)

First 2G iPod shuffle casualty exposes potential vulnerability

It may have been a million-to-one shot, but one user's early experience with Apple Computer's second-generation iPod shuffle left him (and his new digital music player) a little bent out of shape.

In very much the same way that Apple advertised its first-generation iPod nano players as easily storable in the change pocket of a pair of blue jeans, marketing images released alongside its new $79 iPod shuffle show a person attaching the player to the same pocket via its built-in clip.

The concept is pretty nifty it seems, until you decide to sit down or stand up without first detaching the shuffle from your waist area, reports a member of the AppleInsider forums who goes by the name praseodym.

"Today I was wearing my iPod like the picture on Apple's [iPod] shuffle page. When I stood up, I heard something falling on the ground. It was my shiny new iPod," he wrote. "But no big deal I thought — until I picked it up. The clip was bent like a piece of cardboard, and is impossible to get straight again."

Bent 2G iPod shuffle


The damage to the shuffle's clip had no affect on the user's ability to play and listing to music, but as he points out, Apple developed the player to fit precisely into its accompanying docking station, which the bent clips now prevents.

Since Apple's second-generation shuffles utilize a multi-modal headphone jack as its only means of connectivity, the inability of the player to fit back into the recess of the dock means it can no longer be connected to a PC or recharged.

2G iPod shuffle in its dock and out


Due to the way the clip is affixed to the shuffle's aluminum casing on one end, "it's nearly impossible (by hand at least)" to bend it back to its original form, praseodym wrote in a followup posting.

While Apple has traditionally been unwilling to offer replacements for iPods damaged as a result of user error, there is a tad of favorable news for those shuffle owners who may experience similar issues.

At least one third party developer has announced plans to offer a USB "KEY" port attachment that will plug into the headphone jack of second-gen shuffles, enabling syncing, charging and and data transfers through a standard USB port. The accessory should restore connectivity to players that may have lost such functionality as a result of a bent clip.

Thoughtout.biz iPod shuffle KEY


Ironically, Apple faced a bit of backlash (and some class action lawsuits) last holiday season after advertising that its first-generation iPod nano could be tucked away in the pocket of a pair of blue jeans. A significant number of customers found this approach quickly left their glossy new iPods marred by nicks and scratches with the occasional cracked LCD screen thrown in to boot.

In completely re-mastering the iPod nano this year, Apple did away with the full-body polycarbonate plastic enclosures in favor of new aluminum anodized casings, which has so far proven to be much more resistance to every day wear and tear.

The moral of the story: be nice to your new iPods and keep them clear of the change pocket on your favorite pair of jeans. They'll last longer.