I managed to lose my iPod earphones yesterday. This was very upsetting, because ever since I got the iPod a few months ago I've taken great pains to preserve the little black foam things that go over the ear pieces. And I managed to hang onto them right up until I lost the earpieces themselves.
I set off to the Emeryville Apple Store this afternoon in search of replacement earphones (I know I'm studying for the Bar, but I rationalized this decision based on the fact that I need to be able to listen to the PMBR lectures while working out). Knowing that iPod earphones, being cheap little beasts, had a fair market value of maybe five dollars, I was nonetheless prepared to pay up to $20 for them, knowing what I know about the way Apple conducts its affairs.
[Side complaint here: The Apple Store itself is a monument to Apple's irrational commitment to style over utility. Every other store at the Emeryville mall has a shingle hanging over the sidewalk, rendering them easy to locate and identify. Apple, not wanting to disturb its pristine cubic facade, has no such shingle, meaning that when looking for the Apple Store one must crane one's head up and to the right, as opposed to just up. I almost always have to pass by at least twice before finding it.]
When I arrived at the Apple Store I went over to the iPod accessory section and found a small box (not just a card with plastic molding, of course -- a fucking box) with my coveted replacement earphones, along with a remote control for the iPod. The price for this combined, inseparable package: US$39.99. I didn't, and still have not, allowed my mind to travel down the path of imagining what possible utility could be served by a remote control for a portable device. I can almost understand having a remote for those stupid speakers that you can stick your iPod into, but it simply defies rational thought to imagine earphones and a remote control being used at the same time. I don't want to dwell on this, because my head will explode.
A green-shirted hipster confirmed that the earphones were unavailable without the remote control. I thanked him, put the little box on a shelf (not where I found it), and exited the store. I walked about 100 feet and became a living illustration of how retarded it is for Apple to bundle replacement earphones with a useless remote control at double the price. Entering a non-chain audio-video store, I quickly found a pair of Sony plug-style earphones for $20. I declined the two-year extended warranty for an extra five dollars and went on my way, secure in the knowledge that Apple, arrogant though it is, has yet to develop a proprietary audio interface (my Aiwa tape deck adapter works just dandily with my iPod).
The bottom line: I cannot wait until the portable mp3 player market really opens up and Apple starts getting killed by more sensible rivals, companies who understand that apart from the dying breed of Apple loyalists, most people would trade an ounce of prettiness for a pound of utility. I don't care if I have to re-rip all of my CDs. It'll be worth it to never have to deal with Apple ever again.