iUpdate #1: how many dead iPods does it take…

…to make UPS a healthy profit?  In one fell swoop earlier today, a courier arrived at my place and assisted me in completing the ‘despatch > box > label > collect > despatch…‘ phase of renewing my deceased iPod.  OK, maybe I’m easily impressed but it was a good start.  Whilst I track the ‘>arrive > swap > relabel >despatch >get lost > get found > deliver 3 times whilst I’m out > return to lose somewhere in depot‘ phases via the UPS and Apple (if it’s working again) online tracking services, you might like to ponder on the following tit-bit offered by the aforementioned UPS guy and the logical statistical implication. When I asked him how often he does this ‘hand over the box and instructions on how to mail my iPod to oblivion’ thing, he snorted and said “Pah, about 10-15 times a day at the moment”.  Closing the door, I suddenly thought ‘Hang on, if that’s true and he’s just one courier from one depot in one major city then…WTF!’ 

Let’s, as they say in the States, do the math and don’t worry, it’s my worst subject so this’ll be very rudimentary.  The UPS web site’s European facts page gives their European fleet size as being ‘more than 9,700 (package cars, vans, tractors and motorcycles)’.  Let’s halve that to 4,850 for trunk (not local) vehicles, vehicles in repair and otherwise not likely to pick iPods up.  Let’s be generous and halve it again to 2,425 for those vehicles only carrying business-to-business packages and halve it once again to 1,212 to remove those consumer market vehicles operating in rural/less populated areas where iPod ownership is likely to be correspondingly lower.  Now let’s assume that my friendly courier was having a bad day and like most of us on a bad day was looking for sympathy.  So we’ll take his 15 dead iPods a day as an exaggeration and halve that to just 7 as well.  If we mulitply his dead iPod figure by the number of colleagues driving the remaining vehicles it could just mean that an entirely hypothetical and imaginary parallel universe, eight and a half thousand imaginary iPods are being returned each day.  Even if you halve that and then…well, you get my drift. 

Whichever way one looks at it, if this guy was being even halfway honest – and the forums and mail lists would indicate iPods have issues by the bucket load – my experience may be more common than Apple, whose Q4 profits have soared on the back of selling 5.7 million iPods, might care to admit.

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