Apple “Rewards” iWhiners With Rebate, Sets Bad Trend (Details at 11)…

iwhiner.JPGIn case you haven’t read this yet, Steve Jobs (and his bank, Apple), have decided to pony up $100 a pop to suckers a growing army of irate early adopters who ran out and snapped up iPhones, potentially starting some sort of new consumer electronics backlash movement in the process. While I doubt Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo are shaking in their boots, this sort of mob placating doesn’t bode well for current or future tech goodies.

Hell, imagine if every Xbox 360 owner dissatisfied with the console (or new buyers wary of playing “Red Ring of Death Roulette” when they walk into a store) suddenly flooded Microsoft with angry e-mails? Imagine if Halo 3 doesn’t live up to the hype… yikes! What about PS3 users ticked off at the system’s spotty launch lineup (or someone who bought Lair and wanted a game where you weren’t forced to use a brutal control setup)? Turn on the news next week and lookit! Wiimote injured Nitendites are hobbling out to Redmond for some payback! And some of them STILL have Mario Party N64 bruises! Step up to the plate and take a swing at the house that Mario built.

Granted, a bit of this has already happened, but to me, it kills the whole spirit of acquiring new technology on day one. Didn’t ANY of these iBabies read the negatives about the iPhone BEFORE they ran out to wait on line? Probably not, given the tee-vee and radio interviews I heard in the days and weeks before the thing hit stores. “Because it’s Apple!” was the distilled answer from people happily bobbing like them in queues across the country asked why they were standing in the hot sun or pouring rain. Naturally, this made my eyes roll way back in my head because I’d been hearing some not so hot things about the product. Nevertheless, the iSheeple who have money but can’t read too well did what they do best: buy Steve Jobs another lifetime supply of turtlenecks and jeans to the thunderous applause of Apple Store employees.

Look, kids… early adopters are the backbone of any new product. They KNOW their new toy is going to explode suck eggs be upgraded at some point, but these guys and dolls absolutely have to have it day one just to show how hardcore they are. Of course, there should be a reasonable expectation of something resembling a decent lifespan, but given the speed at which tech is upgraded, some consumers who want the best are better off waiting until the second or third generation of a product just to be sure it’s been totally hacked all the kinks have been worked out.

I had my first VCR for almost 14 years until it finally gave up the ghost, violently choking on a tape before spewing out bluish-black smoke. On the flip side, my first PC unexpectedly died on me less than two years after i bought it, blowing out its power supply as I was checking my email before a lengthy business trip. “They don’t make stuff like they used to” is my internal mantra whenever I go to a trade show and guesstimate when that new fun product on display goes on the fritz as it’s being demoed.

Are we that sad a bunch of consumers to cry “foul” when that Magic 8-Ball kept showing “Reply Hazy – Try Again Later” each time we shook it? Aren’t there more pressing things in the would to worry about than picking Steve Jobs’ pocket via e-mail? Look, the way things hit stores so quickly, if you want to be a proper fanboy… well, your expectations need to be set at curb level or below these days. Then again, shelling out 600 clams for a buggy phone and being forced to commit to AT&T for your service is probably pain enough… I suppose there’s a moral here, but it’ll only last until the next version of the iPhone, Xbox or whatever new electronic wonder gizmo hits store shelves. If you want to knock yourself (and your wallet) out and buy something on day one despite the risks, go for it, I say. To everyone else who expects a new product to be flawless, caveat emptor… at least until the first reviews come out…

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