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Swarovski disease now officially a pandemic

The gadget industry's latest victim? iRiver's Mplayer, which is shaped like Mickey Mouse.

As we've been reporting for some time now, Swarovski disease has been spreading fast. But with the arrival of iRiver's Swarovski-encrusted Mickey Mouse-shaped audio player (site in Japanese), we fear the affliction can now officially be called a pandemic. Does the World Health Organization know about this?!

Swarovski Mplayer

Swarovski disease, as defined by the Physicians' Desk Reference, is a condition in which Swarovski crystals attach themselves to every gadget known to man--even those that would seem most incompatible with shiny jewels, such as cable connectors.

In the latest outbreak, the glitter is appearing on a version of iRiver's Mplayer, a cute little kids' product that's licensed from Disney and shaped like the head of its iconic mouse. At 1GB and weighing about three quarters of an ounce, it can hold 240 songs. Users can change tracks, add shuffle, skip folders, and adjust the volume by rotating the gadget's ears.

The Swarovski editions come studded in 133 to 210 crystals in colors including pink, blue, green, black, and silver--and OMG, you can even get them with ribbons attached! They sell online for about $135.

In trying not to be too cynical here, we acknowledge that young gearheads will likely find the bejeweled version of the Mplayer quite charming. At the same time, we have to worry about exposing consumers to this highly contagious ailment at such a young age.