Longevity problems, dare I mention the battery issues that have plagued the iPod, batteries in a device with this kind of price should not fail or lose a significant amount of charge for years - months and weeks is simply not acceptable, what's more if (or when) the battery fails this actually requires Apple to sort it because the batteries aren't removable, a critical flaw in the design.
Update - Apple now do cover this in their warrentee, but once it has expired you still have to pay through the roof for a repair.
Poor sound quality. I don't know what Apple can get away with among it's Mac OS users but Windows users are used to far better sound quality. Virtually every portable media player (even bargain basement players) I've listened to has exceeded the iPod in sound quality, this is one area where Apple need to do a lot of work to catch up, I'm not saying they'll ever be able to match what Creative have with their Zen players, but for a several hundred pound device not to compete with a £60 device in this department certainly raises a few eyebrows.
Poor control system - yes I'll admit the wheel looks like a good idea, and it's easy to control if you've got it out in front of you, but what about in your pocket? Where these players are suppose to be? It's virtually impossible to control, another gimmick feature out of Apple.
Poor compatibility - this is probably the iPod's worst defeat. Zero support for Windows Media Audio, the best lossy codec there is today and no support for Ogg Vorbis, an open source ultra-high quality codec that enjoys mass support from Linux fans (and myself) and then it lacks support for lossless formats like, WMA-lossless and Monkey's audio both very popular among audiophiles. Apple are bent on using the fringe format AAC, with their own copy protection bolted on the side for the iPod, a format that has almost zero support, a format that requires lots of unstable plug-ins on other players to actually work.
No support for Windows Media Player - the most popular media player in the market by far. Over 70 devices support the latest version of Windows Media Player (version 10) these you simply plug them in and WMP will auto-sync, transfer media the lot - all automatically if you want, you don't need to install any software you just plug them in - simple, how things should be. Not the iPod. Apple want you to install their own software called "iTunes" which like a lot of Apple software, is slow, it's buggy it's glitchy it just isn't very well thought out. It places icons on your desktop, start menu and quick launch all without asking, it installs several other applications that you never asked to be install and secretly boots them with Windows. Forcing users to install your own software and having the software do things behind your back is not on at all, you could quite easily compare that to the behaviour of a virus.
No support for 3rd party music stores. Thinking about using your iPod with many of the other music stores, Napster, MSN Music and the many others? Think again Apple force you to use their own music store linked via the before mentioned virus known as iTunes. The music you download from this store has extremely restrictive rights, you will only ever be able to play the AAC files you download on your iPod and on your computer, thinking about transferring some songs to your new player at some point in the future? Dream on, you'll have to buy it all again, and most likely from another store anyway. Apple are deliberately trying to trap users into their own media empire, a very shady business activity indeed, but then for a company that's been declining for over a decade what can you expect? I only hope people wake up and realise this before they have several hundred (or thousand) pounds worth of music that suddenly becomes totally worthless when Apple find themselves being squashed out of the market, by all their competitors that do offer choice.
iPod symbolizes lack of choice. In this day and age this is unacceptable. If you go for any Windows Media Player there are over 100 of them ranging for double digit costs and up, you can use them with virtually any online stores (except iTunes - cheer!) you'll have the choice over which licenses to go for, which prices you like and other packages that are suitable for your needs. Something that iPod users will critically lack, and something they will in the end suffer for. With Windows Media players you can just plug it in to your PC and let it fly, no installing complicated software that does things behind your back.
The choice is clear - don't go for an iPod. It's an evil hugely over-priced, parasitic device with virus like software that attempts to trap you and limit your options.
Other corrections, or out-of-date arguments:
Update - I wrote this before the iPod photo actually came out, back in the Spring, so yes the iPod photo does have a colour display, although it is still tiny in comparison to other devices. Again this is evidence of how Apple's lack of desire to licence the technology out and desire to keep a stranglehold of the entire arena is causing them to be left behind just like with the Mac. The Creative Zen Portable Media Center, for example costs only £30 more then the iPod (or £30 less then the iPod photo!), but also can play video, 85 hours worth, you don't have to install any software, you just have to plug it in!
Update - the newer iPods do seem to charge over USB.
Reply to some of the comments:
From Dru "So stop your bitching and don't buy an iPod. Buy one from the multitude of competitors that consitiute the 8% of the HD based MP3 players that aren't Apple."
Actually this is incorrect, the iPod market share has been hovering around the 30% mark for some time now.
Tired wrote: "AAC, like MP3, is open source, and hopefully more hardware manufactures will see that. WMA is NOT!"
AAC is not open source at all, it's an open standard, may be you're getting the terms confused. It's developed by Dolby, you have to license it, work around patents, just like Windows Media Audio.
Tired also wrote: "Notice in the first line the word "proprietary"? Do you understand the implications of that? Probably not."
Yes, AAC is also proprietary, it's owned by Dolby, and you have to licence it, you can get licensing information from Via Licensing.
I wrote: "A lot Microsoft's source code is available to it's customers." in response to what tired wrote "...And don't even begin to champion MS as an advocate of Open Source."
I think now over 60% of Microsoft's code is available to it's major customers. Sorry if you don't like that, but it's the truth. I think you're getting far too confused between having source code that you share and the GNU Public Licence. Either way your argument is flawed because AAC isn't some GNU product, it's owned, it's patented just like Windows Media.
Hey I'm tired too wrote: "It's odd that people think Apple is apparently restricting customer choise by supporting mp3 and aac and yet it's Microsoft that forces EVERYONE, including retailers, to use wma. Are we really willing to hand all the keys to MS again?! I hope the answer is NO!"
Sorry, but Microsoft doesn't force anyone to use Windows Media, how could they? There are basically two main formats, AAC (with Apple's fairplay bolted on) and Windows Media Audio. Windows Media Audio is available to anyone should they wish to use it. Apple's fairplay technology is not something Apple wish to licence because they want to keep iPod users stuck on iTunes. Apple could licence it if they wanted but they don't want to, who's really being restrictive? Why do they fear iPod users using other online stores?
Ian writes "Oh did i mention MS was trying to sue Linux for infringing supposed patents." and "and remember apple invented it first."
This is incorrect. I think you're getting confused between Microsoft and SCO. SCO claim to own parts of Unix that Linux apparently is using. Also I believe Creative were the first out with an "MP3 jukebox" as it was called back then.
From Sebhelyesfarku "iPod can't play mp3 tracks gaplessly."
Yes, that's one thing I forgot. Thanks for pointing that out.
Bias Alert spent a lot of time simply repeating the same URL over and over, pointing to Stereophile "The iPod is normally beneath their radar, but it ended up in their labs and was tested for audio quality with uncompressed sources, namely AIFF and WAV files, to see if it could deal with uncompromised audio signals with good accuracy."
OK fair enough, so what other players did they test? Seriously guys... Hook your iPod up to your hi-fi and then compare it to a Zen. Don't just take 1 persons opinion, go try it for yourselves.