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Bad Apples

Ah, Apple, purveyoers of shiny white slabs of desire. No tech company on Earth so understands the human mind or knows so well how to make devices that make people smile instead of gnashing their teeth with frustration.

At least, that's the legend.

The reality is... more complicated. Yes, lots of Apple products really are groundbreaking and great to use - the original iPod's click wheel, the iPhone's multi-touch - they do, sometimes, get it wrong. In fact, at this week's press conference - when they announced a new range of iPods - they quietly buried a couple of their previous design missteps.

The new iPod nano is tiny, nice looking, and will no doubt sell like bleedin' hotcakes. But it lacks one feature the previous model had - a camera. Apple added a video camera to the Nano last year with great fanfare, in response to the growing sales of cheap vidcams like the Flip. But it was awkward to use, and didn't really take off, and has been quietly scrapped.

And what about the iPod Shuffle? Last year Apple debuted a Shuffle that looked a lot like the ultimate conclusion of their design philosophy. It was tiny - as big as a tie pin - and had just one button, for on/off/shuffle. All other control was done through a button on the headphones. It was sleek, simple, zen-like in its design. And everyone hated it. You couldn't use it with your normal headphones, only with the crappy Apple ones.

Then there's the iPhone 4's glass back and weird antenna, both of which have been declared 'design errors' by important tech people.

So, if you've seen the new iPod Touch and you're daydreaming about how you're going to find £189 to get one, take heart: it might yet prove to be the latest Apple design misstep. Although, we admit, we doubt it.

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