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Panasonic Begins To Lock Out 3d-Party Camera Batteries

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the humbly-meeting-customer-demands dept.

Power 450

OhMyBattery writes "The latest firmware updated for Panasonic digital cameras contains one single improvement: it locks out the ability to use 'non-genuine Panasonic' batteries. It does so for safety reasons, it says. It seems to indicate that this is going to be the norm for all new Panasonic digital cameras. From the release: 'Panasonic Digital Still Cameras now include a technology that can identify a genuine Panasonic battery. For the protection of our customers Panasonic developed this technology after it was discovered that some aftermarket 3rd party batteries do not meet the rigid safety standards Panasonic uses.' The firmware warning is quite clear as to what it does: 'After this firmware update your Panasonic Digital Camera cannot be operated by 3rd party batteries (non genuine Panasonic batteries).'"

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Nice. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28456943)

Everyone wants to make a buck stifling competition and innovation these days.

Adds strength to the Don't Buy Panasonic movement. (3, Funny)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457311)

This will cause the Don't Buy Panasonic [google.com] movement to be even stronger.

My completely uninformed guess about how this happened. Panasonic executives: "How can we sink the company?" Their answer: "Get a story about us doing something abusive on Slashdot. Slashdot readers understand technology and will make sure everyone knows."

Re:Adds strength to the Don't Buy Panasonic moveme (5, Funny)

guyfawkes-11-5 (1583613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457375)

What a coincidence! Today my wallet decided to lock out Panasonic products. Oh well. Canon is better anyway.

Re:Nice. (2, Interesting)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457665)

Seconded. My 3rd party battery for FZ18 (brilliant camera btw!) is 1000mAh whereas original one is 710mAh. I much more prefer the non original one, obviously.

Too bad for them (4, Insightful)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 5 years ago | (#28456949)

There goes Panasonic off my list for an upcoming camera buy.

Re:Too bad for them (1)

nicolas.kassis (875270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28456995)

Yeah, that's just not good marketing.

Re:Too bad for them (2, Interesting)

JCSoRocks (1142053) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457153)

Ugh. I can't wait for the day when they start only accepting CameraBrandNameHere memory cards. It's easy enough to ignore Sony and find something that uses SD.... but if they try to turn the memory card market into the ink cartridge market we geeks will need to organize a riot.

Re:Too bad for them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457243)

Ugh. I can't wait for the day when they start only accepting CameraBrandNameHere memory cards. It's easy enough to ignore Sony and find something that uses SD....

Though Sony seems to have no issue licensing the Memory Stick format out to other manufacturers like SanDisk and LeXar.

Re:Too bad for them (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457725)

Yes, but they license it at expensive prices, meaning your SanDisk Memory Stick with x GB will cost much more than a SanDisk xD card with x GB.

I even recently saw a device advertised recently which converts some other type of card (microSD? not sure) to Memory Stick. Obviously such a thing wouldn't exist if Memory Stick were priced competitively.

Re:Too bad for them (2, Informative)

feepness (543479) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457795)

I even recently saw a device advertised recently which converts some other type of card (microSD? not sure) to Memory Stick. Obviously such a thing wouldn't exist if Memory Stick were priced competitively.

I suppose the existence of other devices that convert Memory Stick to SD is also proof that Memory Stick is not priced competitively.

By definition, were it not priced competitively, it would not exist (for long anyway). Sony doesn't lock in all devices either, for example the PS3s that have memory slots accept a host of forms and you can swap out the harddrive in any PS3 if you like.

Great News (2, Interesting)

symes (835608) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457209)

Now I can cross Panasonic off my TV short-list - thanks for making life a little easier Panasonic!

Re:Too bad for them (2, Interesting)

wondergeek (220755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457735)

Me too! Damn, I wanted a DMC-GH1 [dpreview.com] !

SECIONDS (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28456965)

seconds

Refreshing! (1)

naer_dinsul (784040) | more than 5 years ago | (#28456987)

Ahh... Nothing quite like the smell of a good ol' arms race in the morning...

Re:Refreshing! (1)

lawnboy5-O (772026) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457073)

Gorbachev, come on now... you know how that ended up last time.

Re:Refreshing! (3, Informative)

vidarh (309115) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457563)

Somebody needs to brush up on their history.

I am in the market for a new camera. (5, Insightful)

macbeth66 (204889) | more than 5 years ago | (#28456997)

I guess it will not be a Panasonic. If it had issued a warning after putting hte battery in, then it would be OK. This just sounds like the same crap Lexmark pulled. I still actively recommend against their printers.

Re:I am in the market for a new camera. (5, Insightful)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457237)

As I see it, the camera is using the (unofficial) battery to post and load the firmware, only to realize that the battery is illigal, and then either eisplays message or halts. I just find it funny that it has to use the very device that it intends to block to power the check.

Re:I am in the market for a new camera. (1)

Devout_IPUite (1284636) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457785)

Seconded

Well... (1)

therapyreject (1582611) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457003)

"Hey, install this so you have to buy more expensive batteries! Otherwise were completely powerless to stop you!" At least they were honest and gave warning.

Re:Well... (0)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457067)

At least they were honest and gave warning

Exactly. If the summary is correct, and the update does just that and warns the user what it does, I don't have a problem. As long as subsequent firmware updates can be applied without applying this one, I'm fine with it.

Re:Well... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457149)

As long as subsequent firmware updates can be applied without applying this one, I'm fine with it.

Do you really think that there's even a tiny chance that'll be true? These are firmware updates, not "hotfixes".

Re:Well... (5, Insightful)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457151)

"As long as subsequent firmware updates can be applied without applying this one, I'm fine with it."

Sorry, it doesn't work that way. Any future updates will also have this (mis-)feature.

Re:Well... (2, Informative)

livings124 (783222) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457169)

I'm sure all future firmware will include this. And I'm sure all new cameras will include this without the ability to go back.

Re:Well... (0)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457353)

I'm sure all future firmware will include this. And I'm sure all new cameras will include this without the ability to go back.

You may be right, but we won't know that until Panasonic releases future firmware updates. Their site does not say anything about future updates.

It's not like they tried to hide what they were doing. They put a warning on the download page (even put it in red letters) telling people exactly what this update does and their reason for doing it. Nobody has to run this update, or future updates for that matter.

As for future cameras only supporting Panasonic batteries, that's something you ask at the time of purchase. What kind of batteries does it take? Can I use rechargeables? Can I use aftermarket batteries? If you're not asking basic questions like that, chances are there are going to be a lot of other things about the camera you won't like when you get it home and start using it.

Asspirates... (0, Offtopic)

skuzzlebutt (177224) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457009)

I bet Sony is next. They love proprietary hardware and formats. Asspirates, all of them.

Re:Asspirates... (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457297)

Sony would probably do something different but equally lame like lock out non-sony memory sticks in everything that uses them from cameras to psps

Are we overlooking the possibilities? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457011)

Are we overlooking the possibility, the grave and determinous possibility, I might add, that this is orchistratad by Italian agents ackting in consort with their Japinise sudoku-allies? America needs to keep Her eyes open and look outr for Rapist foriegners and their randy penisis.

No inherent problem (1)

winwar (114053) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457013)

with this as long as their batteries are reasonably priced.

If they go Lexmark, however....

Re:No inherent problem (2, Insightful)

SecurityGuy (217807) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457135)

No, it is a problem because they're stifling my ability to choose what battery to use and positioning themselves as monopolist. Simple economics will show you that the ideal price point for a monopolist is higher than a competitive market. I'd rather not be screwed for no good reason. The "problem" Panasonic is claiming to solve is not their problem. If I buy an allegedly unsafe battery, why is that their problem at all? I can accept a disclaimer of warranty for some 3rd party batteries IF they have reproducible evidence of a problem, like CheapyVolts batteries burst into flames when used in Panasonic cameras. Fine. If I use CheapyVolts batteries anyway and my camera catches on fire, Panasonic can be off the hook on the warranty.

No, you don't get to dictate I can only use your batteries if you want me to buy your camera. Sorry. Try again.

Re:No inherent problem (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457567)

Like how DVD players stifle your ability to play VHS tapes?

Re:No inherent problem (2, Insightful)

mati.stankiewicz (1326159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457757)

It isn't that way. The analogy could be that your [InsertBrandHere] DVD player allows you to play only [InsertBrandHere] DVD's and nobody else's. That's stiffling.
Your example is rather like trying to put AAA where only R20's fits.

Re:No inherent problem (1)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457781)

Um, your idiotic comparision isn't valid. Any battery with the same specifications should work. I wonder what you'd say if a Microsoft Wireless keyboard only used Microsoft brand AA batteries.

Re:No inherent problem (2, Interesting)

multisync (218450) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457587)

it is a problem because they're stifling my ability to choose what battery to use and positioning themselves as monopolist

No they're not. They are saying "Some of these aftermarket batteries are not equipped with internal protective devices to guard against overcharging, internal heating and short circuit. If these aftermarket battery packs were used, it could lead to an accident causing damage to your camera or personal injury." So they created a firmware update that would check for the presence of a Panasonic battery and refuse to run if one isn't found. Then they gave you a choice as to whether or not you want to run it.

I would assume that if you choose to not run the update, and you camera explodes or something, they would use the availability of this firmware update as a defense in any lawsuits that result.

Nobody is forcing you to run this update; nobody is stifling your choice; nobody is dictating what batteries you can use. You can choose to not run this update on your current camera, and you can choose to not buy Panasonic cameras in the future if they only support Panasonic batteries.

Re:No inherent problem (4, Informative)

skuzzlebutt (177224) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457163)

Quick google shows knockoffs at under $20, and the Panasonic unit at $50 for the DMW-BCF10

Sounds like the printer industry (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457027)

Every major manufacturer of printer cartridges has counter-measures to prevent remanufactured inkjet and laser cartridges. These are designed to prevent "3rd party" cartridges.

Epson is probably the nastiest, An encrypted chip and a fuse that gets blown after a certain period is on their newer models.

Regardless, if there is money to be made, someone (especially in China. They seem to be very good on circumventing consumable copy protection), will make an acceptable aftermarket part which appears to be authentic.

2D For Life (4, Funny)

sexconker (1179573) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457029)

I never understood the obsession with 3D Parties or their camera batteries.

2D for life, bitches.

3d-Party? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457033)

What's a 3D-Party and where can I sign up?

My dis am bigger than yours (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457121)

What's a 3D-Party

It has numerous meanings [wikipedia.org] .

Re:My dis am bigger than yours (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457347)

Um, whoosh?

Re:My dis am bigger than yours (1)

LuvlyOvipositor (1578009) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457385)

3rd-Party != 3d-Party

Lock is anticompetitive, not consumer prot'n (4, Insightful)

debrain (29228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457047)

If Panasonic was concerned about 3rd party suppliers selling unsafe batteries, it could sell licenses with strict requirements or set up a certification program to test the safety of the batteries sold by these suppliers.

Locking out competition to create an artificial tie-in between the camera and the battery is anti-competitive, in my opinion. There are ways to ensure the safety of customers without a tie-in that undermines market-based competition.

Mind you, I only read the blurb- I don't know the details of what Panasonic is proposing. But the summary seems telling.

Not just in your opinion (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457077)

But probably in the legal opinion of more than one lawyer, at least in certain jurisdictions.

Re:Not just in your opinion (3, Informative)

debrain (29228) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457593)

But probably in the legal opinion of more than one lawyer, at least in certain jurisdictions.

Ironically, IAAL.

Re:Lock is anticompetitive, not consumer prot'n (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457123)

Why not just build the battery right into the camera. End of story.

Battery problems? Take your camera to an authorized Panasonic repair shop...

Either way, the market will decide on this. Panasonic isn't the only player in town.

Re:Lock is anticompetitive, not consumer prot'n (2, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457263)

How to ensure that you won't sell a single camera ever again:

  1. Build the battery into the camera.
  2. There is no step 2!

Have you ever known anyone who buys a camera who doesn't immediately turn around and buy a second battery? I've never owned a camera, camcorder, etc. without having at least two batteries for the thing. When your battery runs down on a camera, you want to be able to drop in a new one, not lose the ability to capture memories until you can go back to the hotel and charge up for three hours. I'm pretty sure cameras with built-in batteries would be an absolute nonstarter for a sizable percentage of consumers. At best, they'd buy one once, then the first time they got screwed by it, vow to never buy that manufacturer's products again. Either way, it isn't conducive to long-term sales and profitability.

Apple makes it difficult to replace batteries. (4, Insightful)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457425)

It works for Apple.

Re:Lock is anticompetitive, not consumer prot'n (1)

legirons (809082) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457719)

Have you ever known anyone who buys a camera who doesn't immediately turn around and buy a second battery? I've never owned a camera, camcorder, etc. without having at least two batteries for the thing. When your battery runs down on a camera, you want to be able to drop in a new one, not lose the ability to capture memories until you can go back to the hotel and charge up for three hours. I'm pretty sure cameras with built-in batteries would be an absolute nonstarter for a sizable percentage of consumers.

so you'd have to buy two cameras -- not sure how this is a bad thing for the camera manufacturer?

(more realistically, you'd be using USB power-packs to recharge the device without changing the battery)

Norelco did this for years (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457267)

Why not just build the battery right into the camera. End of story.

Battery problems? Take your camera to an authorized Panasonic repair shop...

Norelco did this for years with their electric shavers. I'm not sure if they still do.

Re:Norelco did this for years (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457395)

I had no problem opening up a Norelco to solder in new NiC. Coincidentally, I also did the same to a couple of Panasonic shavers.

Re:Norelco did this for years (1)

ajlitt (19055) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457459)

I meant "NiCd batteries."

Re:Norelco did this for years (5, Funny)

zapakh (1256518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457729)

I had no problem opening up a Norelco to solder in new NiC.

I meant "NiCd batteries."

I was about to ask to subscribe to your newsletter about network-enabled shavers.

Re:Lock is anticompetitive, not consumer prot'n (3, Funny)

Tokerat (150341) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457467)

I had no problem opening up a Norelco to solder in new NiC. Coincidentally, I also did the same to a couple of Panasonic shavers.

How many megawhiskers where they?

Re:Norelco did this for years (1)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457417)

An electric shaver is not like a camera. Nobody ever lost a once-in-al-lifetime chance to take a photograph because they weren't clean-shaven. And manual backups almost invariably exist for electric razors. And you leave your electric razor plugged in at night and only use it once a day. What makes sense for such a limited-use device does not make sense for a camera that you carry around all day and use repeatedly throughout the day. For a camera, running out of battery power is annoying, but running out of battery power on a device that doesn't have removable batteries is a crisis.

Re:Lock is anticompetitive, not consumer prot'n (1)

AnotherUsername (966110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457435)

Why not just build the battery right into the camera. End of story.

Because many people like to have multiple batteries so they can take more pictures/video without having an hour or so wait in between battery changes.

Battery problems? Take your camera to an authorized Panasonic repair shop...

Or buy a new one without having to drive several hours just to be told that you need a new battery, therein having to pay for a new battery AND having to pay labor costs.

Either way, the market will decide on this. Panasonic isn't the only player in town.

Or we could just use some good old fashioned anti-competition regulation and stop Panasonic from preying on those people who don't know about their practices. Why punish individuals for the sins of a company? Because we want the market to decide everything? An unregulated market is as dangerous as a cobra in an orphanage. Everyone wants to play, but only one creature makes it out alive.

Re:Lock is anticompetitive, not consumer prot'n (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457603)

If Panasonic was concerned about 3rd party suppliers selling unsafe batteries, it could sell licenses with strict requirements or set up a certification program to test the safety of the batteries sold by these suppliers.

Six of one, a half dozen of the other.

Panasonic is a giant.

You might know it better as Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd.

Founded in 1918.

Revenues of $82 billion a year. 330,000 employees.

Merging with Sanyo - combined revenues $110 billion a year. Panasonic [wikipedia.org]

The chances that your licensed - certified - battery will undercut Panasonic on price are negligible.

Antitrust? (2, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457063)

Is the "Panasonic camera battery" market considered a market, in terms of antitrust law? If so, are they setting themselves up for antitrust action?

Re:Antitrust? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457217)

exactly what I thought.

I do indeed suspect there are antitrust issues and "safety" is hardly an excuse (although we already know that).

Re:Antitrust? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457565)

The simple fact that there is already more than one source for "Panasonic camera batteries" means that there is a market.

Currently one party in that market is leveraging a monopoly in another market, the "Panasonic camera" market, to stifle competition in the "Panasonic camera batteries" market.

Or, in easy slashdot terms, it is the same as Microsoft bundling Internet Explorer with Windows.

riiiight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457071)

And I'm sure it has nothing to do with the huge mark up on "official" camera batteries at brick and mortar stores.... what's next? certified panasonic memmory cards? Just to make sure, you know.... those brick and mortar stores don't go out of business.

Re:riiiight... (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457203)

what's next? certified panasonic memmory cards?

Sony already does this with Memory Stick, and Olympus and Fujifilm already do this with xD-Picture memory cards.

Standards? (4, Insightful)

Joseph Vigneau (514) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457075)

"some aftermarket 3rd party batteries do not meet the rigid safety standards Panasonic uses."

It would be interesting to see what standards they refer to. Is that a trade secret?

Re:Standards? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457269)

UL Laboratories

Re:Standards? (1)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457685)

The same standards Sony follows.

Re:Standards? (1)

taustin (171655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457731)

If it weren't a trade secret, then other manufacturers could meet those standards, and Panasonic's profits would be in danger. This is all about safety, dammit! What's wrong with you people! Panasonic execs have boat payments to make!

Grrrr. (3, Insightful)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457099)

A better solution would of been "This firmware update identifies the use of 3rd party batteries and alerts the user to the risk of using them. It monitors the voltage output and shuts down the camera if it determines that the battery is insufficient or possibly dangerous. And invalidates the warranty too". This would of left open the choice to the user - after all there are a great many very good 3rd party batteries and they have saved my bacon in the past.

By monitoring the voltage I mean the camera can detect an abnormally fast voltage drop against its usage that might mean a defective or damaged battery - naturally it cannot detect if the battery is about to get white hot and set fire to the camera, but hey the user was warned and the warranty invalidated. I would expect the manufacturer to check the damaged camera EEPROM and say "aha! according to our data log you used not panasonic batteries, thats no repair for you!".

By removing the element of choice they raise the natural suspicion that this decision was taken on commercial grounds, not safety and risk a consumer backlash and dissatisfaction.

Re:Grrrr. (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457341)

At least in the United States, a manufacturer is not legally allowed to void a warranty for the use of third-party products unless they can show that the third party product caused the damage involved in the warranty claim... not that it can cause damage, but that it did cause damage. So no, they cannot detect the battery and invalidate the warranty. Doing so would put them in violation of Magnuson-Moss.

Re:Grrrr. (1)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457455)

Really? Ouch. (I'm in the UK btw, so that's news for me) So they cannot even explicitly do it in the license/instructions? In that case Panasonic's actions kinda make more sense - bad batteries can cause nasty damage. Hmmm, maybe I change my tone a bit. But I still do not like it at all. Its the same argument as printer cartidges.

Is it legal to lock out 3rd party batteries? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457133)

I doubt it, based on the fact that when I used to work for a major printer company we could not do anything to prevent ink refillers or 3rd party ink cartridge makers from competing for the trade business. If we did they could sue us. I expect that panasonic may be in for a lawsuit from a battery maker.

Maybe good justification (5, Interesting)

McGregorMortis (536146) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457139)

The justification they offer for this is not necessarily illegitimate.

If the camera has a built-in charger, then there is a very real possibility of battery fires or explosions if a 3rd-party battery doesn't match the characteristics that the charger was designed for. If you don't believe that can happen, then I suggest you review all the stories of exploding laptop batteries. It can and does happen.

On the other hand, if there is no built-in charger (my Canon cameras don't have built-in chargers), then they are definitely first-rate ass-pirates and players of the pink oboe.

I'll make that decision (4, Insightful)

cockpitcomp (1575439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457321)

I'll make the decision on whether I trust the battery manufacturer when I buy my battery thank very much. Can't even trust Sony now can we?

Re:Maybe good justification (2, Insightful)

JackSpratts (660957) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457333)

explosions can and have happened with oem batteries. this isn't a safety precaution, it's a profit solution.

Re:Maybe good justification (5, Funny)

10101001 10101001 (732688) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457513)

In related news, Sony has announced that it will be installing new firmware locking-out Sony batteries in their laptops, citing safety concerns.

Re:Maybe good justification (2, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457555)

If you don't believe that can happen, then I suggest you review all the stories of exploding laptop batteries. It can and does happen.

You, or Panasonic, are MOST WELCOME to PROVE that the rate at which 3rd party batteries fail dangerously, is notably higher than the rate at which Panasonic's own batteries fail dangerously...

Whenever there's a story about a cell phone, or a laptop, exploding, the first thing the PR people do is complain about unlicensed 3rd party batteries. When it's pointed out that it has the company logo on it, they complain of 3rd parties selling bad batteries with a forged logo. Doesn't matter if it's a brand new item you were just walking out of the store with, they will INSIST it was a 3rd party battery that blew up, and absolutely refuse to admit that their own batteries aren't perfect in every way... After all, for 4X the price, they MUST BE!

Re:Maybe good justification (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457703)

Yes it is illegitimate.
Using 3rd-party, non panasonic batteries is my choice. The safety of the 3rd party battery is an issue between me and the 3rd-party battery manufacturer. Panasonic is no party in it.
 

Re:Maybe good justification (2, Insightful)

McGregorMortis (536146) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457825)

Unfortunately, Panasonic becomes a party in it when they get sued by somebody who was injured by an exploding battery. They will get sued, regardless of who made the battery. It was in their camera at the time it exploded.

Having done your level best to stop the 3rd-party batteries from working at all is a pretty good defense to come to court with. From a legal standpoint, it might be seen as recklessly irresponsible to _not_ do this.

To the guy who pointed out that even OEM batteries explode: if they (Sony in this case) have such a hard time keeping their own batteries from exploding, imagine how much harder it must be when you have no idea what kind of crap people are putting in there.

I'm just sayin', is all...

Expect to see this "feature" soon on your 'pod... (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457147)

...and your cellphone, and on all devices with batteries and embedded processors.

Re:Expect to see this "feature" soon on your 'pod. (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457271)

It'll be even better on cellphones: in an offline environment, any authentication feature will ultimately boil down to embedding a password of some kind(either an actual password, or something moderately more complex, like the serial number signed with the manufacturer's private key) which will always be vulnerable to extraction and cloning(there'll be no way for device A to tell that the serial number of its battery is shared by 100,000 other batteries from the same clone shop).

In an online environment, and any cellphone would qualify, checking serial numbers against a central database becomes trivial, as does uploading occasional battery health reports, to prevent the serial numbers of dead batteries being extracted and reused("Ah, authenticating battery #194394872349873, at full health and with 0 charge cycles. Nice try, #194394872349873 was reported deactivated by handset 35-209900-176148-1 three months ago, with 546 charge cycles...")

Re:Expect to see this "feature" soon on your 'pod. (1)

LuvlyOvipositor (1578009) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457431)

Too late, iPods and other such devices generally don't allow you to remove the battery at all.

Sad (2, Interesting)

alain_delon (1361705) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457215)

Haven't Panasonic learned anything from Sony's collection of examples of what not to do if you want to keep your position as a market leader?

Last panasonic (1)

GieltjE (815903) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457227)

I just bought a tz7, and this will be the last panasonic I buy, the same as that I shall never again buy a HP (for numerous reasons). Giving me a choice/warning is alright, simply telling me to not use a 9,- 1200mAh non-their-market-batery against a 45,- 895mAh their-market battery totally pisses me off! (and then some). This is a bad twist.

Re:Last panasonic (1)

xs650 (741277) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457499)

I was going to buy a TZ7 to replace my Canon SD770IS as soon as I got back from my next trip. My wife's 3 or 4 year old TZ1 is better than my new Cannon.

It's shame that I won't be buying one now. Panasonic makes some of the best small cameras there are. Way better than you would expect from a non-traditional camera company.

Who? (2, Funny)

hondo77 (324058) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457257)

Panasonic makes cameras?

Nothing New for Panasonic (1)

jizziknight (976750) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457265)

I expect nothing less from them, actually. They have certified Panasonic electronics repair locations, after all. There's only one repair shop in my area that is certified. However, I do tend to like their products, and I've had very few issues or complaints with the ones I have. I would gladly pay the premium for their certified products/services, and have in the past, and have been very satisfied.

Could it be possible that they are doing this as a reaction to the laptop battery recalls? Perhaps they don't want to have to suffer the repercussions of a battery catching on fire or exploding in someone's hands or even face. If they limit the batteries that can be used to Panasonic certified ones, then this becomes less of an issue for them. If someone uses a non-certified battery, and it explodes in their face, Panasonic can try to dodge the litigation.

Re:Nothing New for Panasonic (1)

Hotawa Hawk-eye (976755) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457387)

If their goal was to dodge a lawsuit, wouldn't they just write, in BIG BOLD LETTERS in the operator's manual (and smaller but still legible letters on a sticker on the battery compartment cover) something like "This device is designed to use only Officially Authorized And Tested Panasonic(R) Camera Batteries. User accepts all responsibility for using a unauthorized third-party battery in this device." The disclaimer would have to be translated into legalese, and IANAL, of course.

However (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28457291)

they went at Mircrosoft for including internet explorer by default with no good way to delete it. Seriously?

Countdown to FTC action... (3, Funny)

KC7GR (473279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457315)

In 5...4...3...2...

Well, you get the idea. Any wagers as to how long it'll take for this to hit the legal system? I'm sure the resultant flare-up will be most entertaining. Time to invest in popcorn futures.

Re:Countdown to FTC action... (2, Interesting)

taustin (171655) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457625)

It won't hit the legal system until another battery manufacturer figures out how to crack the system, and makes their batteries work anyway. At which point, Panasonic will probably file a DMCA lawsuit, which will get them a lot of bad publicity, and which, in the end, they will lose (as Lexmark did on their toner cartridges).

Kind of like pumping your own gas in oregon (3, Informative)

goffster (1104287) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457323)

The "official" reason why you are not allowed to pump your own gas in Oregon
is that oregon pavement is wet and hazardous, and only trained grunt's can navigate
the treacherous pavement.

Re:Kind of like pumping your own gas in oregon (1)

belmolis (702863) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457505)

Ah, thanks! I've wondered for years what the excuse for that was. I make a point of not buying gas in Oregon if I can avoid it.

This will guarantee the safety... (1)

hernick (63550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457339)

This will guarantee the safety... of their profits!

If I can't use common batteries, forget it (5, Insightful)

roc97007 (608802) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457351)

If I can't use AA or AAA batteries (or some reasonable equivalent) I'm not interested. Even my pro D-SLR has an adapter to use double As.

Just say no to crap like this. Who needs Panasonic? There are lots of choices out there.

Not everyone prefers to use AA batteries... (1)

Pollux (102520) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457619)

I was planning on purchasing some Panasonic Lumix cameras for our school. I've been very excited about the purchase, particularly because that they use a unique battery, rather than AAs. Reason being, I've had about 20 AA rechargeables disappear in the last two years. That's about $50 worth of batteries.

So, get a battery that's exclusive for the Panasonic camera, and no more people jackin' batteries. Of course, all of this was contingent on buying the $8 off-brand batteries, not Panasonic's $50 take-it-up-the-ass brand.

Another reason to hate lithium-ion (2, Informative)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457629)

Li-ion @ 20 degrees C will lose about 20% of its capacity per year without usage. that means in a few short years it will be time for you to buy a new camera whether you want one or not. I bet there are lots of perfectly good cameras thrown away because their proprietary lithium ion batteries lost their capacity and got discontinued.

Of course, one can always rebuild the original Panasonic battery pack. just buy a similar voltage and slightly smaller size lithium ion (3.6 or 7.2v usually) on ebay and you should be able to retrofit it inside the original battery pack.

Re:If I can't use common batteries, forget it (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457637)

Who needs Panasonic? There are lots of choices out there.

You're assuming all the choices have equivalent feature sets, which is often not the case. One example: Panasonic's compact cameras frequently offer a wider angle lens than the equivalent competition. For some people (including myself), this can be a significant weight in Panasonic's favor.

I do think this move is rather annoying, though; and I wish such business behaviors were not legal.

Talk about knee-jerk responses (0, Flamebait)

Mr. Firewall (578517) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457699)

Before posting, I read through the comments here to see if ANYONE had a clue regarding the dangers of Lithium Ion (and especially Lithium Polymer) batteries.

Nope. Not a one. Zero, zip, nada. Everyone wants to bash Panasonic rather than do a little research first.

Talk about knee-jerk responses.

Listen, Lithium Ion technology is DANGEROUS [batteryuniversity.com] . It catches fire easily [batteryuniversity.com] -- very easily [youtube.com] -- and destroys everything around it.

Credit Sony, who is one of the pioneers (if not THE pioneer) of Lithium battery safety, for protecting their customers.

Sheesh, you people are as bad as any other herd of sheeple. Not everything that a corporation does is evil.

Charge for the camera! (1)

sohmc (595388) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457791)

I'm guessing that Panasonic, like most hardware manufacturers, make little to no money on the camera but make a handsome profit on the batteries and other accessories. Panasonic is doing what every other cash-strapped company is doing: creating a fixed revenue stream. But in this case, they are doing nothing except hurting themselves. They just talked me out of buying their product.

Maybe it's not what it seems like... (2, Interesting)

PHPNerd (1039992) | more than 5 years ago | (#28457827)

Maybe they're not doing this to make a buck. If they were doing it to make a buck it strikes me that they wouldn't be so up-front and honest about what the latest firmware update will do to your camera. Perhaps they are just genuinely that uppity and believe that if 3rd party batteries can't meet their quality and safety regulations, then they have to protect their devices from that. It's still not a good reason, but certainly better than screwing over the general population for the sake of making an extra buck.
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