The iPod Virus: Apple Arrogance

by Devanshu Mehta Oct 19, 2006

Recently, there was an outbreak of E. Coli in the United States- bags of spinach across the country were recalled and the questionable spinach was traced to a region in California. How would you have felt if you had E. Coli poisoning- or worse, died- and all the farmer responsible said, “There is E. Coli in our spinach and we are really upset that human bodies are not more strong and healthy to protect against these things.”

That’s what Apple just did.

Historically, Apple has been an arrogant company and its user community has at times been snarky. We are an elitist minority and usually, we like it that way. We claim that Macs are better and safer and so much cooler, so we are not being arrogant. We’re just giving you the truth.

Apple users can do what they like, but this is my message to the Apple corporation: Stop it. You have gone too far.

In September, an undisclosed number of Video iPods were sold with a Windows virus called RavMon.exe on them. This is a serious issue and one that should be dealt with swiftly and effectively. These things happen and the way to separate the great companies from the bad ones is to see how they respond.

Apple’s response was terrible. They said:

As you might imagine, we are upset at Windows for not being more hardy against such viruses

I’m sorry we broke in to your house, they say. You should have stronger locks.

There isn’t a hint of an apology on their page disclosing the issue, only an aloof sense surprise that people actually use Windows.

Wake up, Apple- your biggest cash cow is the iPod and most of them are used by Windows users. Insult them all you like in the Mac ads, but your iPod users are Windows users. And you just sold them a virus for $400.

Now that I got that out of the way, let us try to deal with the issue of the virus. If you bought a Video iPod after the 12th of September this year, you may have been sold a virus. I would recommend this free trial of McAfee anti virus which should deal with it. Make sure you run it with the iPod attached and scan any attached external drives. Then restore your iPod from iTunes (how to restore).

Apple has not yet disclosed a method of detecting whether your iPod is one of the problem iPods and I doubt they will, unless they smell a lawsuit. Public apologies, meaningful freebies and not being called a weakling is the least an infected paying customer should expect from a company like Apple. Right now, I feel embarrassed for being an Apple user and insulted for being an occasional Windows user.


  • Sydneystephen, you make a lot of sense…

    “Viruses have been distributed by all sorts of organisations in the past, on floppy disks, in emails, or in software”

    -BUT-  When a floppy manufacturer includes a virus, you can be sure they admit fault and declare loudly that you won’t find another virus on any of their products ever again.

    Apple didn’t just sell a device that “COULD” carry a virus; they actually included one.

    -AND- having said that, you are still right for pointing out how inportant it is that Apple make it clear it’s a WINDOWS VIRUS and cannot affect the iPod itself. 

    That makes it more understandable how such a Press Release actually got released.  That’s a far better heat to take than consumers worrying that their iPod could crash from a virus.

    As for the recurring attitude that because Apple said Windows being virus prone they somehow insulted the windows user community… well, that’d be a Windows-Tard response.  They didn’t shift the blame to the Windows User, they shifted it to the Windows makers.  YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE A WINDOWS DEVELOPER TO BE ABLE TO COMMENT ABOUT THIS, JUST TO BE RIGHTLY INSULTED.  If you got the virus, meaning you didn’t have anti-virus to protect you, then you were wronged and Apple appologized the best way they could (to make it clear the iPod is just a carrier and “can’t get sick”).

    Apple just pointed out a flaw about Windows that lead to this event.  They didn’t directly or indirectly imply that Windows Users are idiots (clearly there are a few in every group).  And if you feel insulted, then MAYBE you’re one of them… {oh, did I say that? Yep, sure did} Go back and read Apple’s PR again.

    If anything APPLE is echoing the voice of the Windows community on this subject.  We all wish Windows was hardier against such problems. {They just said it at an inapropriate time, but as noted, it may be better that way}.

    Remember, weather they like it or not, Apple is a member of the Windows Developers Community (in so far as they develope software, drivers, and compatible hardware (including the Mac) for the windows platform).


    IamWm had this to say on Oct 23, 2006 Posts: 24

    Insulted, yes. Indignant, and disappointed, no.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 23, 2006 Posts: 927
  • (^^ speaking as a Mac enthusiast whose family as of lately owns no non-Macs whatever)

    Benji had this to say on Oct 23, 2006 Posts: 927
  • touche… uh, touche… touche! tongue laugh

    IamWm had this to say on Oct 23, 2006 Posts: 24
  • “No.  I’m wondering why people who aren’t Windows developers have to shut up when criticizing Apple, but people who aren’t Windows developers can criticize Microsoft to their heart’s content”.

    That was a mistake of being clear on my part and i rephrased my statement later.

    Is this something to be offended about?
    Is being told to shut the hell up offensive?  To some.  But so is being called a Mac-tard I’m sure.  I’m not offended at being told to shut the hell up.”

    It seems you just took parts of my argument and ignored the others. I never said to shut “the hell” up. I just said to stop complaining. Basically, you are using a straw man argument by trying to make my position sound worse. I would never say such a word as “the hell”. That is brings offensiveness to people. I just said to shut up. Sure, i probably should’ve said please.

    “Btw, the severity of the virus is irrelevant.  When Jobs talks about the security flaws of Windows by pointing to 15 billion viruses, he doesn’t make any distinction between the ones that are really malicious versus the ones that he delivered to users via a bunch of iPods.  So making that distinction to defend Apple is hypocritical.”

    Jobs doesn’t need to since it’s not a show about windows bugs/viruses. He just wishes to mention that Macs are more securer. It’s actually VERY relevant to the topic we are discussing. If you will, i’ll use the “analogy” that was used here.

    “Recently, there was an outbreak of E. Coli in the United States- bags of spinach across the country were recalled and the questionable spinach was traced to a region in California. How would you have felt if you had E. Coli poisoning- or worse, died- and all the farmer responsible said, “There is E. Coli in our spinach and we are really upset that human bodies are not more strong and healthy to protect against these things.””

    First, what was the cause of that spinach? It should be noted that Apple develops, but doesn’t “grow” things which makes it quite different. Microsoft, a multibillionaire company has the money to fix such viruses. Also, just how long has this virus (RavMon.exe) been out and known?  Does this virus do any damage to someone’s computer? If so, to what extent is this virus damageable? One could say that they had some slight coughing and runny nose but nothing serious! So why hasn’t Microsoft patched this?

    In my opinion, it’s good to show that Microsoft should put more effort into security.

    macguysoft had this to say on Oct 23, 2006 Posts: 7
  • The response froom Apple was exactly right.

    Wow, you don’t say, sydney.  Such a shock that you would think Apple did exactly the right thing once again.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 24, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • I believe the reason why the article was so denounced was because it was simply very poor. That is the reason I denounced it.

    That’s the reason YOU denounced it.  You are not a Mac-tard automaton like sydney or the others.  Look at ANY article on this site, like the article about what OS X could learn from Windows.  It’s the same thing.

    As for whether I’d rather be polite or right or rude or right, I think I’d rather match tone with tone in some cases, respond to Mac-tard apologists with all the politeness due a regurgitating robot, and deal respectfully with the rest.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 24, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • Sounds like Gabe’s got an issue with Analogies in general.  They’re never perfect, they will at best, highlight a perticular angle of an issue.

    I agree.  One could pick apart analogies all day long.

    I think the important thing to note here, sans analogy, is that Apple delivered a virus to Windows users and the first thing they did was blame Windows for it.

    I would hope one wouldn’t need an analogy at all to see how pathetic and snotty that response was.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 24, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • I have been reading these posts again. Maybe Beeblebox gets so angry sometimes is because he is a writer for TV and Film. When you are, this is my experience so if I’m totally wrong here Beeb, forgive me for stepping out of line and your work gets in production you’re amazed at how all the people involved manage to create a total chaos of your work. From a writer, nothing else than perfection is demanded and if it is a success the credits go to someone else. If they screw up the script it is the fault of the writer. This can get absurd proportions. Once in a script, the actor had to play the piano. At D-day they came in with a white grand piano. When I started playing no sound emerged.
    What’s this? There is nothing inside this piano ! «Well you did not specify you needed the inside as-well.»
    So it was my fault of not specifying in the list of props: A piano including everything a piano inside should have.When you have to work like that, and your income depends on it, you get paranoid. However, it is a functional paranoia, because 1 out of 3, the absurd eventuality comes true. I once ordered guns to rob a bank and when all the guns were laying there in the bank, (to cut a long story short, the sound engineer had brought his personal Luger) I realised that amidst all these props was one real & loaded gun. The extra’s came in and started playing with the guns like kids. In the meanwhile I had to discretely identify the real one without the bank manager getting suspicious because that morning he had phoned me having getting second thoughts about getting his bank “robbed”.
    Anyway I hope the Beeb will not slash me for posting this.

    WAWA had this to say on Oct 24, 2006 Posts: 89
  • Anyway I hope the Beeb will not slash me for posting this.

    Interesting theory, WAWA.  First I don’t agree that it has anything to do with anger or name-calling.  I’m not the only who gets angry or calls names.  It’s S.O.P. for the Mac-tards on this site (who are downright sane compared to more egregious sites like MDN).  So if people have an issue with me, it’s not my tone.

    It also has less to do with my being a writer than it is the parallels to politics.  Again, the issue isn’t ME, strictly speaking, but the REACTION to me.  So why would people who say nothing when their fellow Mac-tards dish out insults to Windows users or trash articles that favor Microsoft, suddenly become so sanctimonious (well I nevah!) or offended when someone does the same to them?  I think the answer is obvious.

    Further, the reaction would be just as hostile if the content of my posts was the same but said politely.  Because, again, it’s not about my tone.

    These people live in a bubble, like in politics, in which opinion and faith are reality, to a fanatical religious degree.  And when you suggest otherwise, you are upsetting the very foundations of that reality.  Criticize Bush?  Then you’re obviously a liberally biased traitor who hates America.  Criticize Apple?  Then you’re a crazed Windows-lover who hates Steve Jobs.

    The same is true in the degree to which the Mac-tards defend their own team, and this thread is a perfect example.  Apple delivers a virus to its own users and blames Microsoft for it.  Under any other circumstances, such a snarky and crass public statement would be treated as it should be - with skepticism and demands for a real apology.  But not among the Apple-apologists.

    This is getting a little wordy, so I won’t even go into the rank hypocrisy in defending issues like Apple’s monopoly and anti-competitive practices while criticizing Microsoft for same, or arguing that Apple is the only company that innovates while Microsoft does nothing but copy and steal.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Oct 24, 2006 Posts: 2220
  • I will say this in what may be taken as agreement, beeblebrox: I am impressed that anyone should even try to defend Apple’s press-release on this issue.

    I have not read any actual blog posts or articles about the subject that have been other than rightly scathing. Which is why I suspect a more overtly rational statement of your ideas could be conducive to more balance in the discussion here…

    (That’s a compliment, I reckon.)

    Benji had this to say on Oct 24, 2006 Posts: 927
  • Beeblebrox, i am curious. Why can’t you just call them Mac-fanatics? Mac-tard is shorter i suppose? No offense, but you are not promoting a balanced discussion if this is what you are set out to do. I could understand if you are frustrated.

    Plus, you’re getting my statement all wrong. I agree that it’s partly apple’s fault and they should be more humble. That part that i don’t agree with this article is that ALL the blame is on apple.

    macguysoft had this to say on Oct 25, 2006 Posts: 7
  • You know something—this incident demonstrates to the tee exactly the case I was making in the last Ask AppleMatters thread. Apple does some harm, unintentional though it may be, but they immediately turn it around and pass the buck on. It is weasely and shameful, but we have numerous Mac-zealots rushing to Apple’s defense, saying it is in fact Microsoft’s fault for not being immune enough to viruses.  Yeah, I sneezed on you, but you should have gotten the flu shot, anyway.

    Not just here, but almost any place where someone chastises Apple for being a little too cute by half in its apology, someone will jump to Apple’s defense by bashing MS.

    In that last link, someone made a cute replacement of “virus” with “punch in the face” on the Apple support page. I want to plagerize it since it makes my point better than I ever could—Ster

    We recently discovered that a small number - less than 1% - of the Video iPods purchased after September 12, 2006, left our contract manufacturer with an unexpected punch in the face. This punch in the face affects only those customers who can’t duck, and but up to date ducking instructions should be available to most customers. . .
    As you might imagine, we are upset that customers are not agile enough to duck the punch to the face, and even more upset with ourselves throwing the punch to the face.

    SterlingNorth had this to say on Oct 25, 2006 Posts: 121
  • The sneeze is a new angle: I’m sick, I sneeze, you get sick.  Who’s at fault?  Nobody.  There are fanatics who blame a sick person for getting them sick.  That’s life, deal with it.  Don’t expect an appology for it.

    “Hello, I’m a Mac-tard, and I defend Apple when they don’t deserve it.”


    “Hello, I’m a Mac-tar, and I defend Apple when they don’t need it.”

    Honestly, how many other manufacturers have shipped devices with viruses or spyware preloaded?  25 or so verified cases seems extremely small to be making a public acknolegement for most companies.  Let’s compair Apples to… Oranges.  How much of the response is because we don’t expect it from this company?  If HP shipped you a printer with a virus on the install CD, would you get bent out of shape? 

    Most times I’ve heard of manufacturers including Malware (viruses, trojans, and other bad software) the worst response has been to ignore the issue entirely.  Followed by ignoring it publicly and fixing it quietly. 

    The problem with Apple’s response is blame, it’s childish.

    Admittedly Apple does maintain a “Youthful” image, so a little childishness once in a while is required to maintain that.

    I like their youthful spirit and I for one won’t take this any more seriously then any other virus scare.  No big deal.  I’ll let they’re statement slide too.  No big deal in the bigger scheme of things.  If they acutally spread a virus to hundreds of Windows PCs that actually caused some damage, it’d be different, but no big deal when you look at what really happened.

    I urge everyone to just let it go (And if you can’t, then get counciling, learn to smile again).


    IamWm had this to say on Oct 25, 2006 Posts: 24
  • I find it hard to believe you would be urging everyone to “let it go” if microsoft released Zune with a piece of Mac malware that rm’d your home directory if activated, then gave a press releasing including the phrase “we are upset at Mac OS X for not being more hardy against such malware”.

    Benji had this to say on Oct 25, 2006 Posts: 927
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