The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

many faces of ipod
Easy come, easy go. Just as I get a small windfall of found money, I go and spend half of it on a new toy. The toy in question? A used 10-gig iPod off of eBay.

This is, of course, just under seven months after getting my current, 5-gig iPod from an eBay auction. I was a bit shocked to remind myself that I've had the 5-gigger for that short a period of time; as much as I've used it and carried it around, I would have sworn I'd had it longer, since at least 2002. It's a good sign--it signifies how much pleasure I've gotten from the thing. It's been working like a charm: Great battery life, great sound, easy to update with firmware and files, and I've filled up only about 60 percent of the drive with my music files.

Why get a replacement, then? Well... You know how it is with hard drives: No matter how much storage space you have at hand, you always want more, just in case. I guess that's the reasoning here, specious as it is; and it'll be the same reasoning I employ when I get my next one, which will have 15, 20 or more gigs of storage. That I'll never fill a drive that big is, of course, beside the point. It's more a psychological salve, in that I'll know that no matter what I add to the iPod, I'm never in real danger of running out of room on its drive.

Part of the thrill of this purchase, as was the case with the 5-gig, was to see if I could finagle a good deal for it. And I succeeded: Total purchase price for this new unit was $180, which is the same amount I paid for the one I have now. So I upgraded to double the disk space for the same price--golden. (It's not an exact tradeoff: The 5-gig came with headphones, a carrying case, firewire cable and AC adapter, while the 10-gig comes with nothing but the iPod itself. However, since I've already got the accessories, I'm not too concerned about it. The only hitch in that area is not having the accessories to package along with the spare iPod I'm going to sell soon, but it's not a big deal.)

So now, as is always the case when winning an eBay auction--or purchasing anything online or through mail order, for that matter--the waiting is the hardest part. I'm crossing my fingers that the seller ships that puppy out quickly. Indications from his posting say he will; we'll see. Hopefully I'll have my new toy by week's end!

Here's something to contemplate, and probably expand upon later: I've noticed that many used iPod listings on eBay tout the fact that the devices are "loaded". Loaded in this case means the iPod is filled at or near capacity with music, and the sellers make a point of advertising this in their listings. Obviously, the idea is that an iPod, or any digital music player, preloaded with music is worth more than an empty one. From the time I've spent today and yesterday checking the listings, it does appear that the iPods that had music already on them were drawing higher bids than the ones without. Is this a new eBay strategy? I should note that this could open up another digital rights issue in the music world. Does an iPod seller have the right to sell the music that's already on the device? Even if all the files on it are legitimately ripped copies instead of files obtained illegally through a fileswapping network (that's unlikely in any case), I'm sure the music industry would look unfavorably at a money transaction like this taking place; it definitely goes beyond fair use. Plus, it's apparent that the preloaded music adds value to the transaction, so if this practice really catches on bigtime, it'll attract the attention of the lawyers, and some sort of action will happen. Could be an interesting development.