A number of owners of new iPods could be getting more than they bargained for, as Apple has admitted that a ‘small number’ of iPod video products sold after 12th September are infected with the RavMonE.exe virus. Mistakes happen, and while Apple has been forthright about owning up to the problem, I cannot say that I am impressed by the way it has apparently attempted to make this an Apple is cool and Windows sucks issue.
The official statement is quick to state that “we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses” and goes on to make the point that “this Windows virus does not affect Mac OS X or the iPod itself, Mac customers can use iTunes 7 to easily restore the software on their newly purchased Video iPod to ensure that it does not carry this Windows virus.”
Apple is less forthcoming about exactly how many iPods are at risk here. Despite mentioning only 25 reports of problems and stating that less than 1% are affected, no mention of what number that represents is made. As over 8 million iPods have shipped in the third quarter, 1% could actually be a fairly large number could it not?
While I know that platform wars are a fact of life amongst the more driven and obsessive of computer users, one does expect corporations the size of Apple to have outgrown the playground and show a little bit of maturity in handling what is, after all, a lapse on its part not that of Microsoft who did not deliberately infect the iPods after all.
The truth here is that Apple need to re-examine its manufacturing process and quality controls to ensure that a virus cannot find its way onto iPod product, not ride this hobby horse proclaiming it is all Microsoft’s fault. The virus itself is just symptomatic of a much bigger problem at Apple, and if those guys cannot see that then I truly despair. At least McDonald’s had the good grace to admit full responsibility and set up a helpline to get the problem sorted when it recently distributed Trojan infected MP3 players as competition prizes in Japan, and not attempt to lay the blame elsewhere.
If the obvious holes in the Apple manufacturing and distribution security process are not found and closed, then next time it might not be a Windows virus on some iPods, it might be iPorn, or how about some terrorist propaganda on an iPod video? One thing is for sure, unless the problem is sorted in a mature and responsible way, it will happen again and the Apple brand will be damaged.