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Apple Blames 'External Forces' For Exploding iPhones 383

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the don't-keep-it-in-your-pocket dept.
Shome writes "Apple has stated that there is no evidence that recent iPhone explosions reported by users are connected to overheating of batteries. It may be stated that French consumer affairs authorities have started their own investigation on the reported explosions, some of which have caused minor injuries to the users, and are studying the phone's safety features. The Inquirer runs a piece that blames Apple for blaming its customers. 'This mysterious force is not God, or a rival religion, nor does it require any metaphysics to understand. An "external force" is just Apple's term for the black shirted people who believe that everything that Apple makes is wonderful. It is what other companies call their "customers," writes Nick Farrell.'"
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Apple Blames 'External Forces' For Exploding iPhones

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Some idiots SIT on their phones. And they expect a thin glass+electronics+thin metal/plastic shell to NOT break?

    Come on.

    • by snl2587 (1177409) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:20AM (#29261237)

      Of course you shouldn't expect it not to break. But an explosion? That's unacceptable.

      • by AshtangiMan (684031) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:28AM (#29261351)
        I keep my iPhone in my back pocket. It's not directly under me, taking my full weight, but I am partially sitting on it. So far no explosions. Also today I am wearing a black shirt. Though, I'd like to say in my defense that I don't always wear black shirts.
        • by Hognoxious (631665) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:46PM (#29263503) Homepage Journal
          Your pink ballgown is at the dry cleaners?
      • by gnick (1211984) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:49AM (#29261683) Homepage

        I know little about these specific explosions, but modern high-density batteries pack a heckuva lotta energy into a tiny package. If mechanical damage causes an electrical cell-short, you can expect that energy release to be pretty dramatic. If not an explosion, certainly a rapid heat discharge. That's tough to design around unless you just make the thing bigger and heavier to withstand the pressures exerted by the worst-case ass-press.

        • by commodore64_love (1445365) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:13PM (#29262035) Journal

          Precisely.

          I wonder what explanation Apple's engineers have for the laptops that spontaneously smoked & sizzled? I think it's clear the flaw lies in the Lithium battery not the user, and Apple should simply SAY that rather than deny it. Like so: "Dell recently started it's corporate blog called dellone2one.com. One of posts is dedicated to Dell's infamous "flaming notebook" from Osaka. Dell thinks that it was a fault in a lithium ion battery cell, which caused laptop to burn.

          "Dell's engineering teams are working with the Consumer Product Safety Commission and a third-party failure analysis lab to determine the root cause of this failure and to ensure we take all appropriate measures to help prevent a recurrence", says post. LINK: http://laptoping.com/wp-content/flaming_laptop.jpg [laptoping.com] LINK: http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/laptops/sony-beancounters-tremble-as-own-vaio-batteries-come-home-to-roost-208031.php [gizmodo.com] LINK: http://gizmodo.com/gadgets/laptops/gizmodo-reader-witnesses-ibm-laptop-catch-fire-at-lax-201115.php [gizmodo.com]

          I'm glad all my laptops use NiMH, since it's been around quite a big longer (almost 20 years) and the bugs have been removed. I'm sure Lithium batteries will be a great product to own... circa 2020.

          • by vlm (69642) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:49PM (#29263539)

            I'm glad all my laptops use NiMH, since it's been around quite a big longer (almost 20 years) and the bugs have been removed. I'm sure Lithium batteries will be a great product to own... circa 2020.

            Naaaaaah. The main thing that limits the short circuit current of a battery is it's internal resistance. And different battery families have considerably different resistances. Check out the mighty wikipedia:

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_resistance [wikipedia.org]

            The lower the internal resistance, the higher the overall battery efficiency, especially at high currents, but the more dangerous a short circuit is.

            So, as alot of automotive mechanics and UPS repairmen know, short out a lead acid cell, and you get a "glowing crowbar/screwdriver of doom".

            As the R/C airplane guys know, short out a NiCad and it'll pop, quite violently. My father had a RC plane pack pepper a styrofoam ceiling with foil fragments in the 80s during fast charging (no one hurt, no serious property damage, but that was the end of that pack...)

            wikipedia's mostly made up numbers show a lithium has about 1/2 the internal resistance of a NiMH. So, that would be twice the short circuit current. Thanks to P=I2R that would be four times the heat output. Lithiums have a much higher energy density, meaning the lithium either has more energy to convert into heat, or that its an equal amount of heat in a smaller volume.

            I'd conservatively estimate a shorted Lithium will inherently make a bang thats about ten times bigger than the bang from a shorted NiMH. Plus or minus engineering design effects, like corroded emergency vents in a NiMH, flamability and boiling points of the different electrolytes, etc. This would make a highly entertaining mythbusters episode.

        • by erroneus (253617) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:45PM (#29265323) Homepage

          What you say is generally well known among the technical crowd. LiIon batteries are powerful and have contain dangerous potential. Apple engineers probably know this too.

          Here's the deal though. This is a consumer device called a phone. People expect to be able to treat it and deal with it just like all of their other phones. There are no warnings that the phone should treat their iPhones with extra care or that the consequences of mistreatment are exploding devices and potential injury. This would be the bare minimum we should expect as consumers.

          But LiIon batteries have failed and erupted into flame and explosion for longer than the iPhone or other iPod devices have existed. Not all of them are the result of physical damage -- some simply happen spontaneously and are likely due to very small defects in the batteries themselves.

          And I will agree that it is probably VERY hard to make an iPhone with a LiIon battery keeping it slim and all that without these risks. But what should a company do under those circumstances? Make it anyway and hope for the best??? Nope! Don't sell it!! Keep in mind, these are devices that are also routinely in the pockets of children. All the warning labels if they were to exist would not prevent a child from turning his phone into a grenade with or without "external forces" acting upon it.

          Even if all of these instances were the result of user mishandling, it still doesn't excuse Apple for putting these on the market. They should all be recalled until a solution for safety is created and dispatched.

      • by Sandbags (964742) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:04PM (#29261885) Journal

        Have you see the pics? These phones have severely cracked screens, but 90% of the glass is still there... This is not exactly an "explosion" though the imact in a few cases caused the LiIon battery pack to outgas or "pop"

        In every case reviewed thus far however, "external pressure" clearly indicated the force was a twisting or bending, or an impact on the glass itself pushing in. The glass is not boken outwards, so any glass discharged from the device, per the evidence presented, was likely shot up from the impact with ground, or a couple of kids were wrestling over the device and bent it in such a was to send glass shards outward.

        NO evidence of the battery, or the glass itself, being a fault has been shown in any of these cases. Though little is public information, Apple has libberously documented each suspected case for a device returned to them for examination, and it;s consistant evidence.

        • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:20PM (#29262159)

          Apple has libberously documented each suspected case...

          Spell Different

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          > NO evidence of the battery, or the glass itself, being a fault has been shown in any of these cases.

          Indeed, even the posters of the images did not make that claim, at least not with the images.

          The idea that the battery had anything to do with it was created in the BBG story, by a writer that clearly didn't understand the issue and simply conflated to different stories into one.

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      Some idiots SIT on their phones. And they expect a thin glass+electronics+thin metal/plastic shell to NOT break?

      Yes. It is a phone, it is designed to be kept in pockets, of course you can sit on it!

      An iPhone might be to big and heavy to carry in most pockets, but that's just another flaw. Phones should be able to fit in a pocket, and withstand the forces applied to it where it is usually kept.

    • Gosh! (Score:3, Funny)

      by MoxFulder (159829)

      Apple Blames 'External Forces' For Exploding iPhones

      Gee, I thought that explosions are always caused by internal forces... almost by definition!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xlotlu (1395639)

      I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or trolling, but I'll bite:

      I've been sitting my ass on mobiles for 10 years. That's all my phones except my first brick of a Sony, that couldn't fit in my backpocket.

      Out of all the perverted treatment I subjected my phones to, the only one that got hurt was an Ericsson T28: its screen got cracked when I slipped on ice and landed on my ass. That's my full weight landing on a thin glass+electronics+thin metal/plastic shell, and the phone was still working but the LCD was

  • normal for Apple (Score:5, Informative)

    by alen (225700) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:13AM (#29261129)

    check out the Macrumors forums. people bought iMacs a few years ago and LCD's started to go after the warranty expired. The Genius's called the customers crazy. Only reason Apple payed out money with the nvidia chipsets is because they got the money from nvidia.

    there was a hard drive clicking issue with current MBP's and 7200rpm drives, including freeze ups. people took them to Apple stores and were told it was a feature.

    • by ichthyoboy (1167379) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:27AM (#29261339)

      there was a hard drive clicking issue with current MBP's and 7200rpm drives, including freeze ups. people took them to Apple stores and were told it was a feature.

      the iMetronome?

    • Re:normal for Apple (Score:5, Informative)

      by not already in use (972294) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:56AM (#29261781)
      I bought a first gen MacBook Pro. During manufacturing there was so much thermal paste put on the processor, graphics chip and northbridge that it caked out onto the motherboard and was actually insulating from the copper heatsink. It was a well known manufacturing issue that Apple never acknowledged even though every 1st gen up to a certain point was affected by it. I have pictures of mine, personally, that I took apart, voiding the warranty, to fix.
    • Re:normal for Apple (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sandbags (964742) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:08PM (#29261951) Journal

      lol, it WAS a feature. It's a feature of the drop detection system. Unfortunately, the system in the Seagate HDD was much more sensitive, or conflicted with Apple's own protection system built into the macbook, and it took SEAGATE a couple of weeks to develop a patch that Apple tested and then distributed. It only effected a few thousand machines where the disk was upgraded to a non-default selection, and this disk from Seagate should NOT have had this system enabled in the first place. (and the drives apple initially tested did not have this feature enabled, but seagate changed the firmware without changing the model number in later shipping drives, causing the issue, this is a common logistics issue in manufacturing, and segate should have clarified the change with a revision number or notified apple to retest the drives)

      Thanks for spreading more FUD and making a 3rd party vendor's firmware issues look like Apple's fault...

      • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:06PM (#29262937)

        Thanks for spreading more FUD and making a 3rd party vendor's firmware issues look like Apple's fault...

        I thought the whole argument for why Mac OS can only be used on Apple built computers was because that allowed Apple to control all of the hardware it ran on and avoid these types of problems?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Waccoon (1186667)

        Unfortunately, the system in the Seagate HDD was much more sensitive, or conflicted with Apple's own protection system built into the macbook, and it took SEAGATE a couple of weeks to develop a patch that Apple tested and then distributed.

        Yes, and the captain goes down with the ship.

        People pay a premium to get a premium product, not to be told that flaws and flukes are normal.

    • Re:normal for Apple (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Macman408 (1308925) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:56PM (#29262769)

      Go work doing warranty computer repair for a while... You'll become a cynic too. I've seen more than my fair share of laptops that just "suddenly stopped working" due to apparent spontaneous creation of red wine or cola within the case. The customers will go out of their way to clean the outside of the case, hoping that we won't notice the sticky residue that's coating the guts of the computer. There are many cases of cracked screens (both laptops and phones) that the customer legitimately did not see happen - but those are far more likely to be cases where the screen got cracked due to poor handling than due to manufacturing defects.

      And Apple does occasionally own up to their (and their suppliers') mistakes, when there's a significant statistical outlier in terms of failures. Batteries, graphics chips, power supplies, power adapters... I even remember my parents' 15" Apple CRT being covered by an extended warranty in about 1995 because it had a tendency to start flickering yellow. But they don't do that every time somebody on the Internet makes a fuss - whether legitimate or not. Apple customers are ridiculously picky. Like those who complained about the mold lines on the G4 Cube's plastic. Or about misalignment of a laptop case by less than a millimeter. Or a hard drive that clicks slightly differently from what customers are used to hearing (which, admittedly can sometimes be a sign of failure, but can also just be the way it was designed).

  • Ya know... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dazedNconfuzed (154242) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:14AM (#29261135)

    Sometimes it is the customer's fault.

    • Re:Ya know... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:33AM (#29261445)

      Sometimes it is the customer's fault.

      Boy is that true. I have an XBOX 360 I don't play very often. I dusted it off when Ghostbusters came out. Up until I got this game, I had the system sitting vertical. When I hooked it up for GB, I had it laying flat. While playing the game, the fan noise was really bad, worse than it was when I had played it months before. I wondered if rotating it vertically would reduce the fan noise. So, I picked it up, turned it, and *SCREECH*. I pulled the disc out and it had a nice circular scratch on it. Yes, I was that stupid.

      My friends didn't understand why I bought another copy of the game instead of taking it back. They all had suggestions for the excuses I could use and all that. Given the cost of the game, I probably could have gotten mad at Microsoft, and people would have rallied behind me. "Well the system should have been designed better! I never scratched a disc moving my laptop or dvd player!!" I didn't feel right about that, though. It was my fault.

      This post is semi-off-topic, so I figure I'll at least share a little bit of useful info. After I scratched this game, I thoguht it'd be worth trying to recover the disc. I bought a MadCatz DVD repair kit from GameStop. It worked. My scratched copy of Ghostbusters was restored (at least partially, I haven't attempted an installed) and it made one of my old DVDs playable again. It wasn't the fastest thing in the world to do, but it could have saved me $60.

      • Re:Ya know... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Kral_Blbec (1201285) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:43AM (#29261613)
        Considering the cost of making a disc is virtually nil, and you could have taken your disc in to prove it was damaged while in use, I think you had a perfectly good reason to exchange it for a new one. It's not an excuse, its a valid exchange. Damaged software is cheap and easy to replace. The only squabble is potential pirating when exchanging a functional disc. Obviously not functional means no worries about that.
        • Re:Ya know... (Score:5, Insightful)

          by mea37 (1201159) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:49PM (#29262637)

          I don't think you've thought through the end-to-end cost of providng a replacement. It's not just the material cost of pressing the disc.

          If the retailer trades on a "no questions asked" return policy or something like that, then there's nothing wrong with taking advantage of it in a case like this; but otherwise, it's not reasonable to expect the retailer to absorb costs by treating end-user destruction of the product as a "valid return".

          What GP could have done to minimize the cost of getting a replacement, was to deal further up the supply chain. Perhaps the manufacturer has a replacement program. You still shouldn't expect it to be free - there are still costs involving shipment, not to mention paying someone to process your request - but it may well be cheaper than buying a new copy at retail.

          And if the manufacturer doesn't offer such a program? Well, they're under no obligation as far as I can tell.

          Bottom line: GP may not have considered all available options, but his (her?) attitude is correct. Expecting others to absorb the costs of your mistakes is just greedy.

        • Re:Ya know... (Score:4, Insightful)

          by thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) <marc.paradise@NOspaM.gmail.com> on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:50PM (#29262651) Homepage Journal
          Whether the cost is $0.6 or $600 - the point is that it was his mistake, and so he pays the price. Why would the cost to you vs the cost to the merchant or manufacturer be a factor to consider when accepting the consequences of your actions? It's not the manufacturer's fault that he moved it while it was spinning - something common sense would say not to do. It was his own. I'm impressed that he accepted this, instead of trying to justify it in any way.
          • Re:Ya know... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by JAlexoi (1085785) on Monday August 31, 2009 @01:29PM (#29263221) Homepage
            But why would he have to pay up for the license, if he already has it?
            That is essentially the issue with "You do not buy the game, you buy the media and a license". He did not invalidate the license by scratching the media. Since "the media and a license" are two rather distinct items, as the suits say, why would he need to buy another license!?!?!?!?!?!
          • Re:Ya know... (Score:4, Informative)

            by cawpin (875453) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:22PM (#29264007)

            the point is that it was his mistake, and so he pays the price.

            There's only one problem with that assertion. Microsoft specifically said playing games or DVDs with the system in a vertical position was ok. Scratched discs were a well known problem.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by superdana (1211758)
        Yes, I recall reading a warning about this in (I think) the literature that came with my 360.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by stickrnan (1290752)

        Most publishers will replace damaged discs for a fee. I think the going rate these days is about $20.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by flibuste (523578)

        The fact that it is you who are responsible for the damage is actually arguable:

        • Nowhere in the documentation is it said that you should not flip the box while it is operating.
        • 99% of DVD readers can be flipped during operation: laptops, portable players, etc. all can be moved while the DVD is being read, so one is entitled to assume that yet another DVD reader should behave the same. But the almighty Box from M$ does not behave like any other consumer DVD product.

        To me it's not a customer error, it's a def

    • Not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Auroch (1403671) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:39AM (#29261537)
      For apple products, when the mantra is "It just works" ... and the software is built on a very small number of in-house designed products, it shouldn't be the customer's fault.

      Take windows (or linux) - if you can't get something to work correctly, or the wrong drivers/settings fry your hard drive from parking the head incorrectly (or whatever), then you can blame the customer. But when apple designs the product, from start to finish, it should very rarely be the customer's fault, especially when in normal usage.

      Normal usage, you ask? In my world, normal usage means occasionally (very infrequently) leaving a laptop on inside a case, and expecting it *not* to fry because of poor thermal design. It also involves getting the occasional splash of liquid on my gadgets. And, you know, keeping my phone in my pants, where it will heat up if it isn't designed properly.

      Normal usage is *not* exploding batteries, exceptionally short lived LCDs or GPUs that don't live long unless the fan is on full speed, all the time. And when these thing occur, I expect (and have always received) good support from my hardware vendor.

      And no, I do not buy apple. Sure, they have great warranty service... if you buy the applecare. But I can get that sort of extended warranty from almost any vendor - The difference? Those vendors don't have retail locations like apple.
    • Sometimes it is the customer's fault.

      Not when "it" involves a consumer product exploding, and "the customer" is a whole lot of customers.

      • Sometimes it is the customer's fault.

        Not when "it" involves a consumer product exploding, and "the customer" is a whole lot of customers.

        How many reports? Under 5? In how many countries?

  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:15AM (#29261153) Homepage Journal

    Sure, it may be "external forces" like accidently dropped phones, high- or low humidities or temperatures, or what-not, but if the iPhone explosion rate is higher than competitive phones, you have to ask yourself why iPhones are so fragile.

    Come on Apple, find the cause and unless it's customers deliberately abusing their phones, fix it.

    • by lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:33AM (#29261461)
      you're talking about episodes, not rate, the rate figure is not so high because there are more iphone out there than other smartphones and because those are the shiny gadget of the week so more reports comes to the news. for the actual rate you have to divide the episodes by the sold units

      some perspective from 2007:

      http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=5938 [zdnet.com] - Nokia issued a product advisory for its BL-5C battery. The problem: The battery, which may affect as many as 46 million devices, could explode. what's the rate of that, compared to 5/10/100 thousand episodes?
    • by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:53AM (#29261745)

      Sure, it may be "external forces" like accidently dropped phones, high- or low humidities or temperatures, or what-not, but if the iPhone explosion rate is higher than competitive phones, you have to ask yourself why iPhones are so fragile.

      Come on Apple, find the cause and unless it's customers deliberately abusing their phones, fix it.

      Let's see - single digit reports, all in one country; hardly enough data to determine anything, other than a few screens broke in France. No evidences of "explosions" Apple should certainly look into it, but at this point it's hard to tell what is wrong or who's fault it is. Until Apple gets the phones, pulls them apart and see's what happened everyone, including Apple, is guessing.

      If it is an iPhone problem, I wonder why the issue is so localized; I'd expect a design flaw to show up more often and more evenly spread over a production run.

      Personally, my experience with Apple addressing issues that point to design flaws is good - I've had 2 MB's keyboards replaced, free of charge with 1 day turnaround, due to cracking issues. One was way out of warranty, yet they fixed it for free.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by MartinSchou (1360093)

        Localized for a global product doesn't mean it's not a problem.

        At one point, HP had an issue with a shipment of colour toner cartridges that essentially exploded when in use. Not leak toner, but to the extent that it would be able to easily leave the confines of the printer itself.

        This only happened in Scandinavia, didn't happen to any cartridges sold separately, and as far as I remember, it only happened to the cartridges that came with the printer, and only in a certain S/N rage.

        From what we were told in

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by phayes (202222)

        Some of the people who claim to have been victims of "Spontaneous Exploding iPhones" have refused to let Apple take a look at them to attempt to determine why. If the iPhone cannot be shown to have been damaged by an external shock prior to the accident, Apple promised to replace it, but these people are trying to get their insurance to cover the loss without investigating.

        A GP post asked "Why is the iPhone different from all the other phones". If you paid a little more attention to how the iPhone is constr

      • by beelsebob (529313) on Monday August 31, 2009 @03:02PM (#29264665)

        Notably as well, 2G and 3G phones are having this mysterious problem, not just 3GSes, but strangely, they all developed it within a week of the first report; none exploded for 2 years, then lots exploded all in one week. This doesn't sound likely.

        Also notably absent from any of the reports - no one seems to be saying they saw any smoke or flame, just that the screen cracked. Battery explosions are usually rather more exciting than that.

    • if the iPhone explosion rate is higher than competitive phones,

      Is it? It isn't news if a freebie Nokia explodes. I'm not saying that has ever happened, but I don't think it would be international news if it did.

    • by Sandbags (964742) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:16PM (#29262079) Journal

      It's actually extremely LOW compared to other phones, and further, "external force" is NOT a manufacturers concern. You're suggesting somehow that if a rash of people go around sitting on their G1s that Google should recall them???

      There have been "in the single digits" reported cases of iPhones and iTouch COMBINED "exploding" There are over 80Million of these devices in circulation. Further, each and every case thus far has either been proven to be false (many of the supposed "exploding phones" did not even HAVE rup[tured batteries after examination), or the phones have not been turned over for examination and no explanation of why not is being provided (likely because they realized Apple called their bluff when they tried to cheat the warranty).

      5 or 10 out of 40 million, not to mention the over 100 million additional iPods in circulation that also use a LiIon battery, is by no means in risk. in most states, your odds of winning a $1M plus lottery is higher then being the victim of an exploding device, let alone actually being HURT by one. More, the 3GS and all the new apple laptops do not USE LiIon batteries... They use LiPo, which is not subject to outgassing, cascade failure, or other hazards from being dropped, and the primary cause of LiIon failure (shorting), is not a problem with LiPo as they can handle the electric dispursion at extremely high rates without catching fire... They're basically safer than any other form of battery in circulation.

  • Track record (Score:5, Informative)

    by Rockoon (1252108) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:15AM (#29261161)
    ..because Apple doesnt have a track record for selling devices that explode. They certainly didn't recall 1.8 million iBook and POwerBook batteries in 2006. Definately not.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      To be fair, those batteries were made by Sony.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Colonel Korn (1258968)

        To be fair, those batteries were made by Sony.

        Apple doesn't make anything itself. What's the point?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by ukyoCE (106879)

          It's hard to tell, but I believe the OP was being sarcastic. The point is that Apple DID recall millions of Powerbook batteries that were exploding. Therefore they have a history of admitting and recalling when there IS a legitimate problem with a product.

          People damage their cell phones and ipods all the time. My cell phone is covered with scratches because I put it in my pocket with my keys. Only an idiot would blame the manufacturer for getting scratched by sharp metal objects. Yet when it comes to A

        • by Sandbags (964742)

          The point is, there is in fact a legally binding contract agreement of qaulity, and an expectation that fully assembled components in a 3rd party device are back ended by the primary manufacturer. Apple if theydeem necessary can recall the iPhone, but the company that makes the batteries would have to agree to further recall those, and be shown they were in fact faulte (and likely be forced to do so by government or breech of contract with Apple as this would likely bankrupt the battery company with little

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by andymadigan (792996)
        They were sold by Apple. This is sold by Apple, is there any reason to believe there couldn't ever be another batch of bad batteries? Is there any reason to believe Apple improved their testing to deal with higher-than-clean-room environments?
        • Re:Track record (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gnick (1211984) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:57AM (#29261789) Homepage

          I actually see the Sony-battery recall as being a reason to believe Apple on this one. With the Sony recall, they realized that there was a problem with their batteries; they were worried that it was going to bite them in the ass; and they issued a recall. That's responsible to the public and to the stock-holders. In this case, they looked into it and decided that there was no recall necessary. The fact that they issued a massively expensive recall before and aren't doing the same thing now tells me that they believe what they're saying.

          Note: I'm not an Apple fanboi. To my knowledge, I do not nor have I ever owned an Apple product.

      • Re:Track record (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Nossie (753694) <IanHarvieNO@SPAM4Development.Net> on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:04PM (#29261887)

        which part of the device did Apple actually make?

        batteries by sony...
        hdisks by hitachie and western digital...
        motherboards by asus and foxcomm ...

        where do you draw the line? The only thing apple can take responsibility for recently is the PA semiconductor acquisition they made recently and those PPC chips havent been used in apples devices yet.

        Sorry I'm still just pissed off like fuck my 64bit VT enabled laptop with 64bit chipset has a fucking 32bit EFI firmware that apple seems to have no intention of updating!

        FUCK YOU APPLE! /rant

        I think I'm going to buy a mac mini to replace my G4 cube ... not sure the best time to buy tho :-|

  • Blame (Score:5, Funny)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:19AM (#29261219)
    And I would like to blame the Inquirer for blaming Apple for blaming the customers.

    Still plenty of blame to go around...
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Quothz (683368)

      Still plenty of blame to go around...

      I'm pretty sure that's your fault.

  • Not quite (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dissy (172727) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:21AM (#29261245)

    An "external force" is just Apple's term for the black shirted people who believe that everything that Apple makes is wonderful. It is what other companies call their 'customers'." writes Nick Farrell.'

    No, an "external force" is an end user putting the device in an oven at 350 degrees, or driving a nail through the battery.

    Both are actions that no manufacturer should be held responsible short of specifically stating one can do such a thing when you can't.

    "External forces" do exist, no matter how much you hate one company or another.

    While I wouldn't trust Apples own investigation into which end of the spectrum the problem lies, just because you hate Apple does not mean that other end of the spectrum does not exist.

    I am not making any claims to which end of things the exploding batteries from Apple falls under. I would tend to suspect only a very small percentage of complaints are from end users abusing their products, and most likely the batteries actually are failing under normal use, but I have no more data to go on than anyone else.

    But to claim that it is not physically possible for an end user to abuse their device, and state that 100% of all such failures can not be the cause of anything other than Apple, is just stupid and dishonest.

    Of course this is an Apple story, so I will just sit back and wait for the Troll mods and accusations of 'blaming users' or 'defending Apple' or some other crap I haven't done...

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Sockatume (732728)

      I think it's simpler than that, they literally mean "a force has been applied to the device from outside causing it to fail", i.e. it was dropped or struck.

      • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Informative)

        by dzfoo (772245) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:44AM (#29261637)

        That's actually what their press release says. From a quote of the statement in the BBC [bbc.co.uk]:

        "The iPhones with broken glass that we have analysed to date show that in all cases the glass cracked due to an external force that was applied to the iPhone."

        Of course, it is more fun to blame the Eveel Apple and accuse them of being disingenuous, than to actually read what they said.

                -dZ.

    • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Svartalf (2997) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:29AM (#29261365) Homepage

      The real problem is in their determination. "External Forces" can be quite a few things. Including the two items you mention. However, if you're talking about someone sitting on the phone being one of them (mentioned earlier in this thread...) or perhaps talking "too long" on the phone such that the battery gets " warm " (Which most of the smartphones seem to get that way easily- and it's not the SoC doing it...), you're talking a different story. Which is it? Apple's not saying, which is where some of my concern lies. "External Forces" is a cop-out response. Spell it out as to why they exploded. If you're unwilling to do so, you're covering up something. Dell did. Sony did. Apple even did on their laptops on the Li-Ion batteries there. So why the evasiveness here?

      • by dzfoo (772245)

        No, the real problem is not reading the source directly and assuming that Apple deliberately used a loaded and ambiguous term. As a matter of fact, the term used by Apple was "an external force", not "external forces":

        "The iPhones with broken glass that we have analysed to date show that in all cases the glass cracked due to an external force that was applied to the iPhone."

        (Emphasis mine)
        http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8227028.stm [bbc.co.uk]

        -dZ.

    • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Major Blud (789630) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:33AM (#29261457) Homepage
      Agreed. My wife works at an Apple retail store. You wouldn't believe the number of people who get their phone wet, and then deny doing so. A guy brought his 12 year old daughters phone into the store (why a 12 year old needs an iPhone is a different story all together). This phone obviously had water-damage, but the father denied it till the end...even after my wife managed to get the daughter to fess up after asking her a few questions. Even though the daughter admitted to dropping her phone in a vat of gatorade, the father still believed that this was not their problem and insisted that this was a hardware fault. In another case, a woman was talking on her phone in front of the store....in the rain. After taking it in, my wife looked at it and informed her of the obvious water damage. This lady completely denied ever having this phone come into contact with water, even after my wife stated that she just saw her using it in the rain. This lady stormed out of the store, and immediately called someone on the phone....while standing in the rain again. A guy I work with dropped his phone in the ocean and it immediately quit working. He made an appointment, went to the store, and was completely honest about what happened with the sales rep (not my wife). They comped his replacement phone for him. Moral of the story is, if you're honest and polite, you may get more help than if you go into the store and whine, complain, lie, and curse at the top of your lungs, which is probably happening in most of these exploding battery scenarios.
      • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Shimbo (100005) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:41AM (#29261557)

        This lady completely denied ever having this phone come into contact with water, even after my wife stated that she just saw her using it in the rain.

        That sounds perfectly reasonable to me. Maybe Apple world is full of shiny, happy people and it never rains there; in my book, if you can't use a phone just because it happens to be raining, it's defective.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Major Blud (789630)
          Touche'. I have used my iPhone in the rain a few times, and the moisture sensors have still never been tripped; I guess the point I was trying to make is that you can't trust users anymore than you can trust Apple's PR department.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by webdog314 (960286)

          And it should also function underwater to 50 meters! And in a vacuum! And double as an ice-scraper for my windshield!

          You want to use it in the rain, stand INSIDE the house, or, buy an expanding moisture shield... otherwise known as an UMBRELLA.

          Unless of course you were being sarcastic, in which case how the hell did you get modded "Insightful"?

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mikemcc (4795)

          I look forward to the follow-up post that you write on your laptop while sitting outside during the next downpour.

    • by RingDev (879105)

      No, an "external force" is an end user putting the device in an oven at 350 degrees, or driving a nail through the battery.

      Damn it, I knew I shouldn't have brought my iPod with me on that framing job while wearing my Kiln pants. I accidentally put my iPod in the wrong pocket just before I accidentally shot myself with a nail gun. And then the damn iPod blew up!

      -Rick

    • No, an "external force" is an end user putting the device in an oven at 350 degrees, or driving a nail through the battery

      You'll find that "external force" is well defined by Apple, as: 'Applying non-Apple branded electricity to your battery'

      This could easily be solved by having third party Apple-compatible electricity licenses with the properly branded Applectrons, but Steve Jobs is rumored to be against Apple clones.

    • Re:Not quite (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Sandbags (964742) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:33PM (#29262403) Journal

      Yup. I watched one iPhone 3G nearly split completely in two when a coworker's kids were fighting over who got to play the next game on it. Shattered the screen, cracked the case, and luckilly the battery came out whole or it most likely would have ruptured being an older LiIon. Those kids spend 6 months of chores working that one off...

      I've also had several coworkers drop their phones on concrete and driveways, and in many cases even without marring the outside of the phone, the screen shatters in much the way it appears in the images provided by apple. Cracks seeming to ceom from the center, though the device landed on edge. none of their batteries blew out.

      I've also seen one coworker's device outgas in his car, marking up his dash, and he was lucky it didn't catch fire. Dumbass left it running in a parked car that was off, doors open and music blasting through the stereo, and apparently left the GPS enabled, parked it in the sun not far from a friend's backyard pool. 6-7 hours later, music stopped and smoke was billowing from his car. Do you think he blamed Apple? nope, he forked over $600 for a new phone though...

      I dropped my 2G about 50 times... The metal casing was all shot to shit, but it never cracked the screen. Eventually it failed due to a GPU firmware issue that effected a particular line of serial numbers and Apple replaced it for free. I had 4 scratches in the screen, dings and dents all over it, and they never questioned it;s condition (other than looking for the immersion litmus through the haedphone jack). I even dropped it once in a downpour and STEPPED ON IT, screen down on the concrete (how it got 2 of the scrathes). Damned things are frigging indestructible...

      My 3Gs and my wife's 3G (we got lucky on the trade-in, local apple store was out of 2Gs and instead of making us repeat a 4 hour round trip, they gave her a 3G as a replacement) and My 3GS have been dropped numerous times. 20 month old baby keeps snatching them from pockets ort tables and throwing them across the room. Not a scratch on either yet. Close firend, he's gone through 2 blackberries and a G1 in the last 10 months with a child doing exactly the same thing, though my living room is a hardwood floor and HIS IS CARPETED!

      The iPhone is one of the most solid devices I've seen yet, the screen is DAMNED hard to scratch, the defice is rugged, and it takes either a sgnificant, or repetitive shock to cause it damage. other phones fall apart being simply dropped the wrong way. if only "single digit" reports (which btw, is not a single countries total, but Apple's worldwide collection of returned devices accused of exploding) out of 50-150 million devices equippped with those betteries, then who are you to blame it on manufacturing, when not a single reported case has been linked to anything but abuse?

  • by Stavr0 (35032) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:27AM (#29261335) Homepage Journal

    Turns out the battery is susceptible to exposition to Reality Distortion Fields in excess of 750 milliJobs

  • Exploding batteries? (Score:3, Informative)

    by burtosis (1124179) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:27AM (#29261337)
    There's an app for that! Seriously though, lithium polymer batteries *can't* explode since they have no metal canister to hold the outgassing pressure. They simply 'vent with flame'.
    • by gnick (1211984)

      Plenty of things explode with no casing whatsoever, but they usually need a solid mechanical shock to detonate - TNT and C-4 come to mind. Lithium polymer batteries are not on that list. Also, the type of explosions that you're referring to can occur without a metal casing - Plastic, glass, or even cardboard can also contain out-gassing pressure to some degree - M-80s and PVC pipe-bombs come to mind.

      Now that I'm done being pedantic, you're likely correct. These cases would probably melt before any signif

  • "External Forces" (Score:3, Insightful)

    by rehtonAesoohC (954490) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:32AM (#29261427) Journal
    I think we can all agree that given the number of iPhones/iPods that are out there, somewhere, some moron said "Hey y'all, watch this!" before he poured gasoline on the phone and lit it on fire... Yes, we can agree on THAT as an "External Force."

    However, in this instance, it seems that Apple is more than happy to classify these "External Forces" as normal phone usage! What's that? You talked on the phone for more than an hour? We are sorry, Apple cannot be held responsible for these external forces which are beyond our control.

    "But, it's a phone!" you'll reply. What's that, you turned the device on? We are sorry, Apple cannot be held responsible for these external forces beyond our control.

    Clearly, I am being sarcastic, but in all honesty, Apple could admit to some culpability in this instance... As other posters have mentioned, it's not like Apple was not already involved in a Recall of Batteries Used in Previous iBook and PowerBook Computers Due To Fire Hazard [cpsc.gov]

    Did I stress the part about FIRE HAZARD enough there?
    • by TheHawke (237817)

      When Steve Jobs sneezes an iPhone dies a fiery death.

      I'd hate to see what happens when he kicks the bucket.

  • mr RIAA this is not me who copied 100GB of music
    an external force made me do it

    yes it exists, Steve Jobs has seen it !

    with it, he can do weird things better than The Star Wars Force
    he can make explosions
    and even he can take money from people pocket to his own

    i tell you mr RIAA this is real

  • by Slur (61510) on Monday August 31, 2009 @11:42AM (#29261591) Homepage Journal

    ...for being a complete dick. Not everyone who owns an Apple product is a black-shirted zealot, and it's obnoxious to paint all of a company's customers with such a broad brush. Nick is just feeding the trolls by echoing the same stupid tropes that unoriginal people endlessly repeat in forums and comment sections all over the web.

    A decent writer - editorial or otherwise - should discuss the merits and facts of the situation without bringing in useless and alienating invective. He may get a few yuks from the dumb crowd and incite a colorful flame war in the comment section, but he certainly won't gain any deep or lasting respect as a journalist. But I suppose this is just a temporary thing until he gets a job he actually cares about or finishes that sci-fi novel he's been working on.

    Oh, now look, I'm doing it too. Dammit!

  • The DHS thinks the iPhone [bbspot.com] is explosive material now, and banning it from planes. And for the DHS person who just emailed me about this story. It's a work of satire.

  • Even the Inquirer mentions that the screen were cracked by "external forces".

    Lesson: don't spaz out while while playing BubbleBopple or whateverthehell.

  • Poltergeists? Evil spirits? Conservatism? Liberalism? Antidisestablishmentarianism? Moral decay? Tooth decay? Communism? Trolls, kobolds or gnomes (Please pick one only).

    Inquiring minds want to know!

  • by Animats (122034) on Monday August 31, 2009 @12:31PM (#29262369) Homepage

    When something like this happened in the auto industry with the Ford Pinto [wikipedia.org], there were lawsuits, recalls, scandals, and the demise of the brand. The Ford Pinto would occasionally catch fire if hit from the rear by the "external force" of another vehicle. The gas tank could be pushed into the differential, causing a leak and explosion. There were only 27 such incidents, out of millions of Pintos built.

    The situation is very similar. The iPhone has a lot of energy stored in a fragile container, and damage to that container can release the energy and cause a fire or explosion. Such devices must be engineered to fail in a safe way when damaged, just as cars are. (Cars very seldom blow up in collisions, despite what one sees in movies).

    The computer and phone industries aren't used to being held to the safety standards of the auto industry. Legally, though, they have the same responsibilities. Apple is now finding that out.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by russotto (537200)

      The computer and phone industries aren't used to being held to the safety standards of the auto industry. Legally, though, they have the same responsibilities.

      I'm pretty sure they don't. Not in the US, and probably not anywhere else. Computers and phones are regulated by the CPSC (and the FCC); cars are regulated by the NHTSA. Totally different set of laws, regulations, and responsibilities.

  • by pelorus (463100) on Monday August 31, 2009 @02:51PM (#29264499)

    People lie. Especially when the truth will cost them a couple of hundred. I've seen cracked LCD screens that 'just happened' and had nothing to do with leaving a set of keys on the keyboard while closing the lid. I've seen mould growing off a sticky brown-stained motherboard that smelled of coffee despite the user saying that they never spilled coffee on it. I've seen squashed iPods brought in for 'warranty' work because the end user didn't think that leaving the iPod in their jacket and then using the jacket for a goal post in a soccer match was any reason for concern.

    People lie. And people don't like their insurance to way out when they can moan constantly and get a new machine for free.

    I see no evidence that these 'explosions' occurred and I see plenty of evidence that people lie when they break their computers. Apple is politely saying "You broke it, you fix it" which is fair enough for any manufacturer.

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