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Apple Follows in Dell's Footsteps, Recalls Laptop Batteries

By Jennifer LeClaire MacNewsWorld ECT News Network
Aug 24, 2006 2:05 PM PT

On the heels of Dell's announcement last week that it would recall 4.1 million laptop computer batteries, Apple is recalling 1.8 million Sony batteries used in its Macintosh notebook computers. The batteries can overheat and pose a fire hazard to consumers.

Apple Follows in Dell's Footsteps, Recalls Laptop Batteries

The recalled batteries were shipped with the 12-inch iBook G4, 12-inch PowerBook G4 and 15-inch PowerBook G4. Apple sold about 1.1 million of the Sony lithium ion batteries in the United States.

Apple has warned customers to stop using the recalled batteries immediately in the wake of nine injuries and some minor property damage caused by several faulty units.

Don't Panic

Incidents involving consumer products that resulted in deaths, injuries or property damage cost the U.S. more than US$700 billion annually, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, which worked with Apple to announce the recall.

Still, Apple's battery recall is no cause for alarm, according to David Milman, CEO of Rescuecom, though he acknowledges that consumers must replace the batteries immediately to avoid any chance of a problem.

"Incidents with these types of batteries are very rare, even though computer batteries tend to run warm," Milman told MacNewsWorld. "Every Apple user who believes they may be affected should log onto Apple's Web site and follow the precise directions for receiving a new battery."

Avoid Third-Party Batteries

Once the recalled battery is removed, Apple customers can plug in the AC adapter to power the computer until a replacement battery arrives. Milman urges Apple customers not to use third-party batteries, which are often much less expensive than the $130 individual unit Apple sells.

"If an offer is too good to be true, it usually is. If you think you've found yourself a deal by purchasing a knock-off name battery, it could be your computer and your data that gets knocked off," Milman argued.

"Despite some recent problems with these batteries, the chance of any incident is still extremely low, and by using a third-party item you are dramatically increasing your chances of a problem," he added.

Standardizing Lithium-Ion Batteries

IPC, formerly known as the "Institute of Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits," announced last week a technical summit meeting planned for mid-September to develop manufacturing standards for lithium ion batteries for portable and handheld electronics.

"Without a doubt, standardization can and will address the issue of operation and safety called into question by the use of lithium ion batteries. While the Committee had identified lithium ion batteries as the next product for standardization, we are going to accelerate our activities now," said John Grosso, chairman of the IPC OEM Critical Components Committee, as well as director of supplier engineering and quality, sub-tier and critical components, for Dell.

Milman applauds the effort, noting that there is no standard in place today because battery makers stand to gain financially by avoiding it. The recent battery recalls, he added, demonstrate why standardization is a good idea: adopting uniform methods of manufacturing batteries is an idea whose time has finally come.

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