After about a week of various Apple Computer (NASDAQ:AAPL) fan sites posting complaints about screens cracking on Apple's newest flash-memory digital music player, the iPod nano, Apple has admitted that there is a problem with cracked screens on a small number of the new units.

Apple announced that all customers need do is get in touch with AppleCare -- that's customer support at most companies -- and their faulty iPod nano will be replaced free of charge. The company also mentioned that the manufacturing defect affects less than one-tenth of 1% of all iPod nanos. That's a small amount, but the statistic is meaningless to a customer affected, and the publicity could potentially hurt Apple's reputation for quality. Apple customers expect new products to work properly and, given that quality issues with previous iPods have been minor, would react negatively to news that the nano's cracked screens are a persistent problem.

I've been watching this issue for the past few days now for a couple of reasons. As an investor, I was curious to see how much damage this problem would cause for iPod sales (stay tuned) and whether Apple would act quickly to protect the power of the iPod brand. As a consumer, I think the iPod nano is simply a beautiful product and one I may want to purchase, provided the cracked-screen problem goes away quickly. Apple can be faulted for many things, but its product design is generally not one of them.

For a company often criticized for having an adversarial relationship with customers seeking product support, Apple's forthright offer to replace any faulty iPod nano is a smart and sensible move. It's also an attitude I believe the company needs to embrace as it becomes more of a consumer electronics company and less of a computer company. Investors should certainly cheer it. As the old saying goes, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar.

Folks may bicker that Apple took too long to come around and admit that there was a problem, but I disagree. I've had customer service problems with Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Dell (NASDAQ:DELL) and Sony (NYSE:SNE), as well as a number of smaller private companies, and quite often it took more than one phone call to get a problem resolved. It's not a pleasant experience, and there's certainly room for improvement in the customer service department at most companies. But it's the end result that matters, and this time Apple has stepped up to the plate.

For more Apple-related Foolishness, bite into these:

Dell is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. For a 30-day risk-free trial, click here.

Nathan Parmelee has no financial interest in any of the companies mentioned. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy .