Japan is investigating the possibility of overheating iPod Nanos,. The country's Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry is looking into three reports of overheating iPod Nanos starting fires and confirmed that Apple had two other cases of something similar occurring.
The iPod Nano overheating allegedly happened during 2005 and 2006 and so far, there haven't been any reports that the same issues persist.
It should also be noted that back in 2006, Apple was included in a long list of companies that had computer battery issues that were also sparking fires.
But Apple's problems have stretched far beyond battery problems. The company is facing trouble over its utterly crappy MobileMe, has dealt with concerns over faulty "first-generation" devices, and has consistently delivered less than what we're looking for in iPhones. All the while, Apple still thinks it's necessary to remove applications from its App Store with nary a mention as to why.
Amid all those problems (and many more that I didn't recount), Apple's satisfaction rating is the highest in the business, sales are stronger than ever, and there are no signs of either slowing down at any time.
So what's the deal? Why is Apple given a slap on the wrist, while other tech companies would pay dearly for similar offenses? If you ask me, it has nothing to do with the products and everything to do with Apple's marketing machine.
Apple has proven that effective marketing, secrecy, and a hype machine is a key point in ensuring a company is successful, regardless of the issues it faces. Let's face it -- without Steve Jobs making a big splash each time he gets on stage and without the success of painting Apple as a premium brand with exclusive offerings, Apple would be just another company that makes mistakes and pays dearly for it.
But luckily for Apple and its shareholders, it's not just another tech company. Instead, it's the cream of the crop; a company that the mainstream looks to as the benchmark by which all other companies are compared. An iRiver Clix? Nope, we'll take the iPod. A BlackBerry? Nah, we want the iPhone. Those HP computers look nice, but those Macs are much nicer.
But are all Apple products really that much better? They suffer from the same instability problems, don't work nearly as well as Apple fanatics want us to believe, and generally don't offer the best of the best in any space.
And yet, none of that matters.
Should we simply forget that Apple has no policy in place in its App Store and will single-handedly remove applications without warning consumers or the developers? Should we forget that Apple's batteries explode and burn up just like every other company's batteries? Should we forget that a Mac is far more expensive than comparably-equipped Windows-based machines even though it offers little in the way of tangible benefits?
So far, the answer to all those questions is a resounding "yes."
Unlike any other company in the technology industry, Apple is put on a pedestal as an exclusive brand that easily eclipses anything else on the market. Part of it is due to the success of the iPod and the iPhone's style, but a major part of why Apple has been so successful is due to its ability to build hype for nominally improved products. More importantly, Apple has been able to use its exclusive reputation to make people desire its products more than any other, regardless of the benefits it provides.
Apple is in no way the most reliable tech company in the business. But by far, it's the only company that can captivate the public and make people listen to what it has to say. And in the process, it doesn't matter if it screws up or commits rookie mistakes because it's Apple. And that name -- Apple -- is all that matters when people go to the store.