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FOIA Documents Detail iPods Overheating, Catching Fire

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the is-it-hot-in-here dept.

Portables (Apple) 314

suraj.sun passes along a report from a Seattle TV station that has been investigating reports of Apple iPods overheating and bursting into flames. "An exclusive KIRO 7 Investigation reveals an alarming number of Apple brand iPod MP3 players have suddenly burst into flames and smoke, injuring people and damaging property. It's an investigation that Apple has apparently been trying to keep out of the public eye. It took more than 7 months for KIRO 7 Consumer Investigator Amy Clancy to get her hands on documents concerning Apple's iPods from the Consumer Product Safety Commission because Apple's lawyers filed exemption after exemption. In the end, the CPSC released more than 800 pages which reveal, for the very first time, a comprehensive look that shows, on a number of occasions, iPods have suddenly burst into flames, started to smoke, and even burned their owners. ... Apple refused to comment, and refused to answer all of the other questions [the reporter] has been asking of the company since November."

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iPods should definitely be contraindicated (3, Funny)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780051)

...for people engaged in petrol sniffing [abc.net.au] .

Re:iPods should definitely be contraindicated (1)

LordKaT (619540) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780175)

contraindicated ...

the iPod should be made inadvisable for people who sniff gas?

What?

Re:iPods should definitely be contraindicated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780341)

Inflammable means flammable?

What?

Re:iPods should definitely be contraindicated (2, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780605)

No. It should be recommended.

One week, and all the sniffers would be gone trough natural selection. :P

Company policy (4, Funny)

Goffee71 (628501) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780053)

Apple just said it had a smokin' quarter...

Re:Company policy (1)

ByOhTek (1181381) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780261)

Probably due to the new marketing phrase

"Is that an iPod in your pants or are you really happy to see me?"

Re:Company policy (3, Funny)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780359)

It wasn't Apple's fault, it was user incompetence. They should know better than to play a playlist like this:

  • Aurthur Brown: FIRE
  • Brownsville Station: Smokin' in the Boy's Room
  • Quiet Riot: Cover of the Brownsville Station song
  • Boston: Smokin'
  • The Weavers: On Top of Old Smokey
  • Johnny Cash: Ring of Fire
  • [can't think of the name of the artist]: Fire On The Mountain

Nevertheless, at least one Apple employee will be fired.

Re:Company policy (1)

Canazza (1428553) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780513)

- Dragonforce: Through the Fire and the Flames
- Jimi Hendrix: Fire
- Kings of Leon: Sex on Fire
- Prodigy: Fire Starter
- Jerry Lee Lewis: Great balls of fire
- Deep Purple: Smoke on the Water

I could go on all day :D

Re:Company policy (3, Funny)

Vu1turEMaN (1270774) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780571)

I AM THE GOD OF HELLFIRE and I bring you......flaming iPods!!!!

Re:Company policy (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780625)

Yeah. The employee that is completely unrelated and is just a scapegoat. While the real person responsible for it will get a raise for finding that scapegoat.

Re:Company policy (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780781)

# [can't think of the name of the artist]: Fire On The Mountain

The Grateful Dead. It's most often preceded by Scarlet Begonias and some delicious segue jamming.

Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780055)

Apple will block it, their zealots will ignore it, the masses won't here about it.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (3, Insightful)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780091)

Apple has not managed to hide the suicide [reuters.com] of one of their suppliers employees after he was on the receiving end of a good deal of intimidation. In today's media environment once the shine comes off of a star the media is more than happy to jump on the mud throwing bandwagon. If this gains any traction then there is a good chance that people will be more than happy to pile on.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (4, Insightful)

noundi (1044080) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780349)

Except your example is indirectly related to Apple. It's their supplier and thus it's the suppliers responsibility. This however is fully their shit. The fact that your iPod may catch fire and burn down your house is not something to keep quiet about, no matter to what extent the problem goes. How many times have you tossed your portable mediaplayer on the bed/sofa or on the sill close to the curtains, or even on the rug. In contrast to your example this is truly a serious problem, which is why it took half an eternity for this to be exposed and a week or so for the suicide to leak, with the official story. It could easilly been swept under the rug as just social pressure, wiping the 16 prototype iPods from the story. But Apple are fully aware of that in this case they act as customers, leaving them with little to no responsibility for the suicide. What's unfortunate though is that the parent is absolutely right. This will be downsized by the Apple zealots, whom I find, while very similar, even more pathetic than followers of scientology. On the plus side Apple zealots tend to own more Apple equipment, thus they should hold a much higher risk of having their home burnt down. Perhaps that will teach them how sick it is to love a business that don't employ you.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (3, Insightful)

vulpinemac (570108) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780479)

The fact that your iPod may catch fire and burn down your house is not something to keep quiet about, no matter to what extent the problem goes.

Even when the odds are 1 in 11 million + units? You have a greater chance of winning a lottery than you do of getting burned by your iPod. For that matter, at least one of those cases was due to the user sitting down with the thing in their pants pocket. I can't tell you how many Nintendo Gameboys I had to repair with broken screens because the kids sat on them or stuffed them in their front pants pocket. You try sitting down with something about the size of your hand in your pocket; it's going to flex, and flexing is likely to bend the battery or some other component.

I mean, really! Out of over 175 Million units sold, only 15 had an overheating problem? That's more reliable than even the Model T!

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (1, Insightful)

LKM (227954) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780557)

Batteries are small containers which contain ever larger amounts of energy. They are bombs. Sometimes, they catch fire. This happens with all electronic devices. The question is whether iPods are worse than other devices; so far, the data isn't in, but since it's Apple, a high-profile company which sells a ton of devices, people will be quick to blame them for everything.

So we can either have a discussion about the data, or we can yell at each other. Your post started out as if you wanted to go with the first idea. Too bad you ended up with calling Apple's customers "more pathetic than followers of scientology" and implying that it would be good if they died in a fire.

Loving a business that doesn't employ you (or, in fact, any kind of business) is just as sick as hating the customers of a specific business.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (5, Insightful)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780285)

Read the article. The long report they talk about says that 15 were reported. That's 15 out of 175,000,000 (175 million).

Cars, computers, flippin' aircraft... I'd imagine a lot of products have catastrophic failures (such as sparks or fires) 1 in 11.6 million times. How often does it make the news (particularly nationally) when some guy's TV shorts out and ignites, or a car battery explodes.

And to clarifiy my position, I didn't jump down Sony's or Dell's or Apple's throat when their laptop batteries were causing major problems either. Though it's obviously good to know, as so many were affected, the most that can be said is that it was the battery manufacturers.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (5, Informative)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780437)

I used to work for Fisher-Price. I got a call from a woman whose child choked on something, she was an EMT so the child was fine, but it was clearly hazardous.

Given that ONE report, Fisher-Price notified the CPSC, proposed a solution and a way of publicizing it, and within ONE WEEK there were news releases, posters being sent to pediatrician's offices, ads in parenting magazines, etc. This was not something mandated by the CPSC, but rather something F-P proposed to the CPSC and the CPSC said "Ok, sounds like a plan - go for it."

In contrast, a less reputable children's products manufacturer had to be SUED by the CPSC and forced into a recall after their product had KILLED children. But even in that case, there was no cover-up and attempt to squelch those facts.

Now granted - children's products are different and safety is more of a concern - but even given the less stringent attitude towards adults products, I'd say BUSTING into fucking FLAMES is enough to move past that realm of nonchalance into starting to give a shit.

(Also, F-P's practices changed after the Mattel take-over, and I came close to being a whistle-blower about another safety issue, but that's another story.)

Bottom line is, an ethical company would have dealt with this publicly and openly, issued a recall for the effected production runs, and taken the 10-20 million dollar hit, knowing it was worth it in the long run for good will and also knowing that it was a relative pittance compared to their massive profit margins and the BILLIONS of dollars Apple has socked away.

A less ethical company would have been forced to act.

An UNETHICAL company would cover it up.
Apple is an unethical company.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (1, Troll)

cabjf (710106) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780501)

I just assume any company over a certain size is an unethical company. As soon as you have full time lawyers on the books, it's pretty much a guarantee. That's not to say small companies can't be unethical either, just that the smaller ones who are ethical tend to lose that as they grow.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (3, Insightful)

Hijacked Public (999535) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780775)

I don't know how large a company KIRO 7 is, but using the phrase "alarming number of" instead of "15", to sensationalize a story, is certainly unethical.

This doesn't give Apple a pass but we have no way of knowing what they've done internally to address the problem. Could be nothing. Regardless, I don't blame them for not wanting the story widely reported in the media.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780565)

You are full of shit. Thanks.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780601)

Unethical company? Bahahaha! Those are synonymous terms, you may as well just say, "Apple is a company." Thanks, have a good day.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (0, Redundant)

LKM (227954) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780621)

There's a difference between a toy that is unsuitable for children because it is a choking hazard, and an electronic device that was sold 175 million times and had 15 reported cases of overheating. Given what we know, there's a high likelihood that the reported issues were not due to an inherent problem with the devices, but due to user error (I would guess getting an iPod wet or leaving it in a hot car could in some cases cause overheating). If it were an inherent problem with the product, there would very likely be more cases.

So we don't know what actually happened. There's a chance Apple is behaving unethically. There's also a chance that there is nothing wrong with these devices. Given what we know, my bet would be on the latter.

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780445)

When a TV shorts out it's usually because somebody spilled something; my late ex-mother in law killed her TV watering a plant on top of it. Car batteries likewise don't just explode; they vent hydrogen gas, and clueless users don't know how to safely jump start a vehicle (hook up the red wire to the battery, ground wire somewhere away from the battery).

How many Pintos were manufactured? How many of them exploded? It was certainly news.

Unless I'm mistaken, you can't easily access an iPod battery, ruling out user incompetence, unlike a laptop.

Having your product catch fire is not good engineering or manufacturing, not even ONE out of fifteen million. Sony, Dell, Apple and especially Ford with its Pintos and Grand Vics DESERVE to be jumped on. Apple should settle with the victims, determine what caused the malfunction, and recall the defective products for maintenence at no cost to the user (which I'm sure they will do).

Re:Don't expect to see this in mainstream news (4, Funny)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780675)

Reminds me of Fight Club:

Narrator: A new car built by my company leaves somewhere traveling at 60 mph. The rear differential locks up. The car crashes and burns with everyone trapped inside. Now, should we initiate a recall? Take the number of vehicles in the field, A, multiply by the probable rate of failure, B, multiply by the average out-of-court settlement, C. A times B times C equals X. If X is less than the cost of a recall, we don't do one.
Business woman on plane: Are there a lot of these kinds of accidents?
Narrator: You wouldn't believe.
Business woman on plane: Which car company do you work for?
Narrator: A major one.

No one knows, because it was only on Slashdot? (2, Interesting)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780365)

"Apple will block it..."

Getting a story on Slashdot cannot be considered blocking the news. And Apple has made the story far, far worse by attempting to block it.

Just Google it: iPod Fire [google.com] , and Google news: iPod fire in the news [google.com] .

But, in general, I agree with your underlying point.

Another subject: In spite of what appear to me to be lies about Steve Jobs, it seems the company is becoming a different place now that he is less influential.

Meanshile, in Redmond... (5, Funny)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780057)

Microsoft scramble to add explosion functionality to the Zune.

Re:Meanshile, in Redmond... (1, Insightful)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780241)

. . . whilst fanboys scratch their heads trying to find an upside to burnt nostrils . . .

Re:Meanshile, in Redmond... (2, Funny)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780413)

Wait - those little buds go up your nose? Damn - I've been doing it wrong!

Sniffing iPhones (1)

siloko (1133863) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780517)

I suppose you use yours for phone calls . . youngsters today . . . [sigh]

Re:Meanshile, in Redmond... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780643)

"Microsoft will scramble to add explosion functionality to the Zune."

But the new version will be buggy and Zunes will only implode.

That will make Steve Ballmer explode. Okay, so there will actually be an explosion.

Things we can learn from this? (4, Funny)

gcnaddict (841664) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780063)

The nature of things hasn't changed.

Apples can and do still go bad.

public perception (3, Insightful)

hellfish006 (1000936) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780065)

Apple will still be adored by the public, the iPod is too ubiquitous with mp3 player at this point to be shunned. Its like Windows, it may be bad and seem to be hated by a lot of people but it will still be the most dominant in the market.

ALARMING! (5, Informative)

paulhar (652995) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780069)

Summary:
> Investigation reveals an alarming number of Apple brand iPod MP3 players have suddenly burst into flames and smoke
.
Article:
>When the documents finally arrived more than seven months later, they included more than 800 pages of information, including 15 burn and fire-related incidents blamed by iPod owners on their iPods.
.
> After conducting its own preliminary investigation, the federal agency determined that, with more than 175 million iPods sold, âoethe number of incidents is extremely small in relation to the number of products produced, making the risk of injury very low.â
.
I'm ALARMED!

Re:ALARMING! (5, Insightful)

Shag (3737) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780121)

So 1 in roughly every 11 million iPods has this sort of problem.

Out of curiosity, are there other products that burst into flames spontaneously at rates lower than 1 in every 11 million? I'm just thinking that if I bought 11 million of anything - including fire extinguishers - I wouldn't be terribly surprised if one went *FOOM!* one day.

Out of every iPod burning (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780299)

Apple has quashed reporting of 100% of them.

Re:ALARMING! (1)

Allicorn (175921) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780439)

Humans themselves allegedly burst spontaneously into flames at frequencies not drastically smaller than that :-D

Not quite time to splash out on that asbestos iPod sleeve just yet I think.

Re:ALARMING! (1)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780149)

You should be alarmed! If you owned an iPod, you'd have a 1 in 11.7 million chance of having it catch fire spontaneously. That's more likely than dying due to being confined to or trapped in a low-oxygen environment!!!!

Re:ALARMING! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780287)

I am more alarmed at your poor grasp of statistics.

You have a better chance of winning $200000 dollars in the powerball than buying an iPod and having it catch fire.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Powerball

It is a non-story. A device containing a high energy density power source finally catches fire?! I'm shocked!

Re:ALARMING! (2, Funny)

jrothwell97 (968062) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780295)

I'm terrified! I'm more likely to be killed by my iPod than by my tea cosy!

So whats new ? (-1, Troll)

phoxix (161744) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780079)

Do any devices burst into flames ? You bet

Will crApple cover up anything and everything even if that means tampering with the law and/or (American) constitution ? You bet

Will crApple's fanboyz rush to its defense needlessly, dangerously, and even willing to give up personal freedoms for Steve Jobs ? You bet

The real issue is why a tax-payer funded gov't entitity can be meddled around with a company like crApple in the first place. Anyone who has ever read the Consumerist knows that the CPSC has no teeth nor balls, but this is unacceptable and ridiculous.

Re:So whats new ? (-1, Troll)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780303)

Did you read the article or are you just anti-Apple? The CPSC documented 15 cases. 15. Not 1 in 15 but 15 total cases. Could there possibly more? Sure but a 1 in 11 million failure rate means problem does not appear to be widespread. To put it in perspective, a simple lottery like Louisiana consisting of 6 straight draws and no power ball has a 1 in 3.8 million chance. So you are more likely to win the Louisiana lottery than be burned by an iPod.

Re:So whats new ? (2, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780495)

Just curious... what catastrophic failure rate is the margin between a cover-up being ethical and a cover-up being unethical?

Re:So whats new ? (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780751)

I'm curious, why do you hate Apple? I don't own one, but I'd probably buy a Mac if they were cheaper and I'll probably buy an iPod sooner or later (my daughter has one).

Do you work for Microsoft or Dell or something? Or did your iPod explode?

Nothing New (1, Flamebait)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780083)

Apple failed to correctly implement the CMD IDE chip used in the Revision 1 B&W G3 macintoshes. [lowendmac.com] They used to have a techinfo library entry that told you to buy FWB toolkit or an IDE card to fix the problem. (FWB toolkit would let you force the drive to PIO mode, at which point it's about half as fast and requires more CPU intervention, but UDMA is what Apple screwed up.) When the merged the TIL into the new Knowledge Base they omitted this article; there are earlier and later articles. I used to have the TIL number, and you can search the KB by TIL number and find things, but only if they are there.

Apple customers are mushrooms, they are only happy as long as you keep the in the dark and feed them shit. If people at large had longer memories and more geek awareness they might still not avoid them, but they would stop paying a premium for what is after all essentially the same experience you get from anyone else: a bloated, chunky, choppy operating system (sometime compare NeXTStep on an '040 Turbo slab to OSX running on a Dual core anything, and be depressed) extremely wasteful of resources running on simple motherboards built by Foxconn and populated with simple commodity parts.

Re:Nothing New (3, Funny)

dunkelfalke (91624) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780167)

Well, at least they have implemented the HCF-instruction [wikipedia.org] alright.

Re:Nothing New (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780291)

Well, Apple did use Motorola chips for a while, some of which actually do have an HCF instruction.

Re:Nothing New (-1, Offtopic)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780319)

That's ridiculous. Apple implemented the CMD IDE chip properly. The truth of the matter is that the chip, and the implementation instructions, were changed after the iPod went into production.

Multiple sources confirm that the source of the chip and instruction change was no other then Googol the Destroyer, in an effort to stop Joba and Gatus from preventing him from wreaking the End of Days upon the world via the Rite of a Thousand Targeted Ads.

When last we saw our heroes [slashdot.org] , Gatus and Joba strove to recruit all the world's developers to write the One True OS with Global Search in order to stop Googol; the druid Stallmanx had failed in his efforts to trick Googol into signing away his powers (via a contract written by his attendant Beard Gnomes). Googol was busy devouring data with gobsmacking satisfaction, and weaving his Dark Fibers into the Evil Woven Tapestry of Universe Description, while his evil underlords continue to build the database of all possible ways the world can be saved and developing counterstrategies for them.

Unfortunately for our heroes, it appears that their actions have not gone unnoticed by Googol the Destroyer. Apparantly Joba's subversion of the fashion-conscious developers has gotten under Googol the Destroyer's skin... for now he has provided chipmakers with incendiary devices to be implanted in iPods and Zunes, and threats of zero pagerank if they do not follow his directives.

Both Zunes that have been sold have since blown up, while approximately 15 iPods have blown up in the test phase of "Operation iPlosion". This apparently was less than Googol anticipated, due to the protection of the Reality Distortion Field of iPod users with sufficient devotion to He of the Black Turtleneck .

Meanwhile, in Stallmanx's laboratory, his Beard Gnomes have nearly finished the contracts and licenses that may yet save the world from the predations of Googol. Just what lies within those documents?

How will Gatus and Joba recruit the rest of the world's developers? What cunning plan will Googol the Destroyer think of next? Will he overcome the effects of the Reality Distortion Field? Will our heroes be thwarted?

Tune in to next week's episode of Googol the Destroyer to find out!

Re:Nothing New (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780443)

They didn't implement that chip incorrectly - the chip itself was garbage. UDMA simply didn't work. Google "CMD646 bug" - oodles of people having major issues with this chip.

Re:Nothing New (1)

vulpinemac (570108) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780503)

Simple question: How does this relate to the discussion at hand about iPods?

Re:Nothing New (4, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780563)

Simple question: How does this relate to the discussion at hand about iPods?

I suppose "Simple" is one way to describe your question.

The discussion at hand about iPods is not really about them catching fire. It's really about the fact that Apple has been trying to hide the fact from the public. Apple also tried to hide B&W G3 data corruption from the public by removing the TIL when they folded it into the KB. In general, Apple attempts to hide its failures from the public, to the detriment of the customer. Their cachet depends on people believing that they are somehow different from other manufacturers, but in reality they are depressingly similar.

It should not take a FOIA request to find out what the catch-fire-and-burn rate is on a piece of electronics you're considering purchasing. And it should not require that you surf the antique web to find out why your computer is corrupting files. Increasing used value increases new value, so preventing people from finding out about problems with your hardware potentially increases profits. It's certainly one thing working for Apple...

Comments like yours make me feel like I'm in school. Nobody should have had to write a fucking essay to explain this to you.

Mod parent up. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780705)

Good explanation. I wish you were a Slashdot editor.

Re:Nothing New (-1, Flamebait)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780729)

And you "go away now, the *adults* are talking" attitude really endears people to your argument.

You really shouldn't need to be told how to be civil in a discussion, you patronising cunt.

Macbook tag? (3, Insightful)

gblackwo (1087063) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780095)

I would appreciate it if we didn't tag every apple story with macbook if it doesn't have to do with macbooks. One day, I or someone else may actually want to use the tagging system for its function of looking up stuff that has to do with that tag, and I will not be happy when I want to look at macbook related stories and see 90% of the articles are about ipods.

Re:Macbook tag? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780397)

It looks like the macbook tag is auto-applied when an editor uses the "Portables (Apple)" icon.

seattle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780103)

Seattle huh? Did they get an "anonymous tip" from some unnamed, but well funded local source?

Re:seattle? (2, Insightful)

sheph (955019) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780233)

That was my first thought too, but it is concerning that the CPSC thinks there is an acceptable number of these instances (numbering in the 100s). As if it's ok that hundereds of people were burned by this thing, and Apple acts like there's no problem. Apple made a pretty decent product unitl fairly recently. Now they are scrambling to build their products out of the cheapest products available just like the PC clone manufactures (like Foxconn). Their die hard fans may continue to purchase their products even when the quality isn't there, but I think most rational people are going to look at this and weigh their options.

The iPod was a great idea, and they deserve the kudos for it. However, I can tell you as a father I would not give one of these to my kids, or own one myself even if the probability of this happening is 1/1000000.

Re:seattle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780301)

The iPod was a great idea, and they deserve the kudos for it. However, I can tell you as a father I would not give one of these to my kids, or own one myself even if the probability of this happening is 1/1000000.

That's the thing. These papers don't even show a 1 in a million chance of this happening. It's closer to 1 in 12 million -- 15 instances out of over 175,000,000 units sold. At levels that low, this really doesn't seem like something the average person needs to worry about. You probably have just as much of a chance of a housefire starting due to a crappy lamp.

Re:seattle? (1)

sheph (955019) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780515)

Somehow I got the impression that it was hundreds of users that were affected. I would agree with your statement about a bad lamp, but you don't typically wear that on your body. In searching for more information I did find this article http://www.gadget.com/gadget-news/apple-admits-to-burning-nanos [gadget.com] that says Apple has known about this since last year. If that's the case, why did they act like it never happened before. It may be a small percentage, but would you really want your child to be the lucky winner?

Re:seattle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780527)

> However, I can tell you as a father I would not give one of these to my kids, or own one myself even if the probability of this happening is 1/1000000

Ack! Natural selection is thwarted again... :)

Re:seattle? (1)

BasilBrush (643681) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780593)

That was my first thought too, but it is concerning that the CPSC thinks there is an acceptable number of these instances (numbering in the 100s).

15. RTFA.

I would not give one of these to my kids, or own one myself even if the probability of this happening is 1/1000000.

It's 1/11,000,000.

Yes, you probably wouldn't. Like most people you are irrational (and innumerate) when it comes to quantifying risk.

When things with a big enough power source have a short circuit, they get warm and catch on fire or explode. Nothing new there. There is no suggestion here that this is a higher rate than any other handheld device (music player, phone, laptop etc.)

Re:seattle? (1)

Roogna (9643) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780609)

The thing is, it's hard to get worked up over something that is most likely user error. I mean even 100 out of 175 million is so miniscule...

And man, I've seen some dirt dumb users try to do the most ridiculous things with high tech equipment...

Sorry, I'd have to guess that even if it burst into flame at a later point, it had something to do with the user trying to bend it, or poke it with a screwdriver, or whatnot. If it was a true issue with the battery, which wouldn't surprise me as battery manufactures seem to have horrible QA these days (Just look at the Sony battery fiasco, which did hit Apple as well), then I would expect in a given run, much higher failure rates.

Re:seattle? (1)

raymansean (1115689) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780723)

High usable energy density == unstable. This goes back to engineering and customer demands, your options are size, saftey, and battery life pick two!

Blown Totally Out Of Proportion! (4, Funny)

SQL Error (16383) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780111)

I mean, my iPod's only exploded what, three times? Okay, four, but that last time my girlfriend loaded some Celine Dion on it, so that falls squarely under self-defence.

That's a far better track record than most of my electronic devices.

Re:Blown Totally Out Of Proportion! (3, Funny)

Gazzonyx (982402) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780225)

Self defense?
No, friend, that was a suicide/homicide. If only more devices would give their PCBs to stop Celine Dion...

Fix it or buy a new one! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780251)

Honestly, after the second time that some device blows on your face, you should get it fixed or get a replacement.

Same can be said about men, of course.

Just the iPods, and not the owners . . . ? (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780125)

. . . no Spontaneous Human Combustion http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spontaneous_human_combustion [wikipedia.org] ?

Now, THAT would be real news for real nerds . . .

"Hey, that dude drank too much Jolt, and just like, sorta burned up!"

Re:Just the iPods, and not the owners . . . ? (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780277)

Real nerds? Real drummers you mean!

Yum (1)

strikeleader (937501) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780129)

Mmmm...I love baked apples

Not a bug... (2, Funny)

pig-power (1069288) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780135)

According to Apple in a statement:
"Apple is about innovation, this is a self destruct feature that
demanding consumers requested"
Anyone else want to take a ride on the "spin machine"?

The downside of high capacity batteries. (5, Insightful)

wiredog (43288) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780139)

High enough energy density and you go from energy store to high explosive.

Re:The downside of high capacity batteries. (2, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780741)

No you don't. High explosives don't burn. They explode [wikipedia.org] . Gunpowder has a very high energy density, as does gasoline. Neither of them are high explosives.

The parable of the burning ipod (5, Funny)

sir_eccles (1235902) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780145)

...and the burning ipod did speak unto Jobs and appointed him to lead the users out of Vista and unto the promised land of OSX.

Just Another Reason... (1)

Gallenod (84385) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780147)

...to buy an iPod. Those cunning devils at Apple have found a legal way to sell portable incendiary devices! Who wouldn't want one now?

Sometimes Ipods Just Explode...Natural Causes... (1)

lunatic1969 (1010175) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780187)

I've never had any of my ipods burst into flames. I've never known anybody who has had an ipod burst into flames. None of my ipod owning friends have ever mentioned any of their friends having an ipod that burst into flames. ...I'm thinking maybe this isn't such a huge, gigantic problem as all that, which is why it's not in the mainstream media...

wowee (1)

Spewns (1599743) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780195)

Do they scream "BUY COWON!!!" as they burn? Good effin' riddance.

Another non-story (4, Informative)

taskiss (94652) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780199)

According to the article (you DID read the article, didn't you?) there has been no serious injuries. The article details how, after 7 months of investigation, the reporter has found bloggers blogging about overheating iPods, but the number reported in the article is about ... 35. That's out of the 175 million devices out there...

Hardly a product flaw. Perhaps some rare individual and isolated parts are flawed, but this isn't a systemic problem.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted its own preliminary investigation and determined that, with more than 175 million iPods sold, âoethe number of incidents is extremely small in relation to the number of products produced, making the risk of injury very low.â

Nothing to see here, move along. kdawson, queue the apple haters. Oh, and start posting real stories or find another job.

Re:Another non-story (-1, Troll)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780467)

Nothing to see here, move along. kdawson, queue the apple haters. Oh, and start posting real stories or find another job.

NOW HEAR THIS: You are an Apple fanboy or a kdawson troll. This story isn't about the fact that they burn, but that Apple has covered up the problem and it took a FOIA request to get the details. Consequently, there IS a story here, it's even a REAL story for a change, and you're only complaining because you have a dog in this fight.

Mentioning "Fire" gets the attention of Applecare (5, Interesting)

Skraut (545247) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780217)

A while back I had a problem with the power brick for my Macbook Pro. It was running awful hot, and some of the plastic on the cable near the magnetic adapter was starting to melt. Applecare kept trying to tell me that the problem was my fault for unplugging the adapter by pulling on the cable instead of actually grabbing the magsafe plug, and that despite me having paid for applecare, they would not fix it.

A couple days later while playing a game in bootcamp, I went to unplug it, and was so hot that the power cord's coating actually melted to my hand. I called up AppleCare went through the situation again. I even explained that it had melted, I seemed to get nowhere. Where I had touched the cord it had now darkened considerably, probably from me being able to see the bare cable beneath it. I was trying to describe this to the tech and said something along the lines of, "Well there's melting damage, and the area is blackened a bit as if there was a small fire there"

Suddenly the whole tone of the conversation changed, and I was immediately transfered to a supervisor. I went through about 10 minutes answering a series of questions off a script. "Did the Fire cause any property damage?" "Was there any bodily injury caused by the fire?" "Have you suffered any loss of income due to this problem?" etc etc etc.

I answered no to everything, but simply mentioning "Fire" got me a new power brick, when no other method did. It is something Apple is clearly concerned about.

Re:Mentioning "Fire" gets the attention of Appleca (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780529)

Confirmed, same experience from Apple Store in Tokyo (it's a script). Also told me "no, never heard of this before" while clearly asking scripted questions.

Proof is the shorted power adapter can apparently cause damage to the smart battery (there is a little processor in there), and he knew this. He went right for the battery, and sure enough it no longer reported it's serial no and status... changed that too.

My business partner had the same experience also.

NOW--- the problem as many have said, is that there is so much energy in such a small space. Lithium Polymer batteries explode, and those power adapters have ~70W of output which is more than enough to char a cable. Apple handles -each case- well (very well), I don't fault them for something like this because it's an energy density issue.

Re:Mentioning "Fire" gets the attention of Appleca (1)

vulpinemac (570108) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780697)

NOW--- the problem as many have said, is that there is so much energy in such a small space. Lithium Polymer batteries explode, and those power adapters have ~70W of output which is more than enough to char a cable. Apple handles -each case- well (very well), I don't fault them for something like this because it's an energy density issue.

Look again. Those power adaptors don't run at 70 watts. 7w, maybe--that's hot enough to burn you, just touch one of the old C7 Christmas bulbs if you don't believe me. The power adaptor is made to recharge the battery. The battery can provide a higher wattage to the computer and thus power it properly. Using the adaptor to power the computer is misuse of the adaptor. Modern electronics, especially modern batteries, don't work they way they used to. That's why today's batteries tend to fail too quickly. Charge and Deplete is the way they're meant to be used, not Charge while Using. Think of them more like deep-cycle marine batteries rather than your car battery. You might understand them better.

Manufacturers are always responsible. (1)

Futurepower(R) (558542) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780771)

"... I don't fault them for something like this because it's an energy density issue."

There are ways the problem of energy density can be solved, such as using an embedded circuit breaker. We all use circuit breakers to prevent house fires.

Re:Mentioning "Fire" gets the attention of Appleca (1)

vulpinemac (570108) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780589)

And this relates to the iPod problem... how? 15 defects out of 175 million sold does not make a pattern.

Now, your own problem is one to consider, and has been addressed by Apple. I believe they issued a recall on those particular power blocks.

Re:Mentioning "Fire" gets the attention of Appleca (1)

iVasto (829426) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780663)

I did something similar to replace my HP laptop power brick. I simply mentioned that I almost burned myself on it and a new one was shipped out immediately. Granted I don't think I could burn myself, but the power brick was running a lot hotter than it should have so I just exaggerated a little bit. Whenever something is malfunctioning, simply mention almost being injured by it and companies will most likely send you a replacement item (within reason). It's cheaper to send a $20 power brick then pay a lawyer to just read a lawsuit being brought against them for negligence.

While this is bad... (5, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780253)

...I still get sick and tired of all of these absurd "special reports" on the news about the "unseen dangers" in the world that are orders of magnitude less likely to cause you serious harm than being struck by lightning. Certainly, Apple should be held responsible, particularly for their gross mishandling of the situation (trying to sweep it under the rug), but can we grow up a little? It does not seem that there has been any serious damage or injury as a result of this. This culture of fear that the news has been cultivating is beyond nauseating and is destroying our society piece by piece. Because of all the news coverage into child abductions, for instance, we teach our children that strangers are dangerous and keep them close to our chests at all times, despite the fact that the odds of a child being abducted by a stranger are literally 1 in a million! The same thing has happened with the War on Terror (TM), one terrorist attack and all of a sudden its necessary to start stripping away human rights and make air travel more or less unusable. We feel that airport security is necessary, despite the fact that it logically makes no sense. We see all the exposes on the dangers of drug use, yet fail to recognize that in reality aspirin is more dangerous. We humans are terrible at assessing risk, which leads to crap like this happening. I could fill an encyclopedia with examples of this, but I think the point I am trying to make is fairly clear, that this is juvenile behavior.

So it's OK for Apple to quash bad news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780323)

That's what this story is about. It's not about iPods burning up. It's about Apple hiding the fact of the iPods burning up.

iSmoke (1, Funny)

nevvamind (988833) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780263)

"no iSmoke without iFire"
Guess apple will out an iCream for flamin-iPeeps

Oh no, 800 pages!!! (4, Insightful)

AntEater (16627) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780271)

"more than 800 pages of information, including 15 burn and fire-related incidents blamed by iPod owners"

Lets see, according to wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , over 173 million ipods have been sold as of last September. Out of these, there are only 15 documented fire related incidents? Not to downplay the impact this had on the individuals but I can hardly see where this constitutes a risk to the public. At that rate, there are probably more ipod related choking incidents. The article keeps referring to the "800 pages" rather than the actual number of incidents which looks like they're trying to create the appearance that this is a big problem. If anyone feels that this is a serious danger then they need to be wearing a motorcycle hemet when walking around the house and and a life preserver at breakfast in case they might drown in their cereal bowl. Living involves some risks but I think this one I'll safely ignore.

Oh my gaaaawd! Choking incidents? (1)

cheros (223479) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780387)

"ipod related choking incidents"

Umm, huh? I think we should be told about this hazard. I mean, I'm used to exploding batteries since Dell, but choking? Did you tell Fox? Or KiroTV? :-)

Re:Oh no, 800 pages!!! (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780603)

In other words: The Universe is out to kill you. iPods, not so much.

Safely ignore Apple's malfeasance? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780629)

Where they hid news?

If that rate of explosion is so unimportant, why did Apple try so hard, spending YOUR money (you think they're going to take a hit on profits because of this?) to pretend that this unimportant defect rate didn't happen AT ALL?

Either they enjoy wasting your money and the courts time on trivialities, or Apple doesn't agree with your assertion of its triviality.

and the numbers... (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780321)

"...When the documents finally arrived more than seven months later, they included more than 800 pages of information, including 15 burn and fire-related incidents blamed by iPod owners on their iPods."

"...After conducting its own preliminary investigation, the federal agency determined that, with more than 175 million iPods sold, "the number of incidents is extremely small in relation to the number of products produced, making the risk of injury very low."

I love the media. "Coming up at 11, stunning new government documents reveal that **your** iPod may burst into flames!" Seriously? 15? If there was a problem with 15 Honda Insights, I doubt there'd even be a service bulletin.

Moral of the story; rechargeable lithium batteries are dangerous. Rechargeable lithium batteries made under sketchy conditions couple with charge controllers made under equally sketchy conditions are probably slightly more dangerous.

News Flash ... Lithium Ion Batteries Can 'Asplode (4, Informative)

janeuner (815461) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780339)

The article in question does not cite any raw data. Useless.

Nokia had a similar problem with a subset of their BL-5C batteries. Nokia sold 300 million of these batteries, of which 46 million were defective. Of those, only 100 resulted in thermal failure, and all but a handful resulted only in the destruction of the device itself.

By comparison, Apple has sold about 175 million iPods. No doubt, only a subset of those contain a defective battery which could result in destructive failure. This isn't Apple being lazy, or even worthy of the publicity this news outlet is trying to generate. At worse, the chances of YOUR iPod bursting into flames is about 1:100,000

If you want to be cautious anyhow, follow these guidelines for protecting your iPod and any other device with a lithium ion battery:
1. Never leave it in your car or any other environment which would reach temperatures in excess of 120 degrees.
2. When charging a lithium ion device, do so while you are awake and in the room. If you charge overnight, do so on a non-flammable surface.
3. Buy a leather case for your cell phone. Not only does it protect the device, it also provides a thermal barrier should the battery fail while it is on your person.

Re:News Flash ... Lithium Ion Batteries Can 'Asplo (3, Insightful)

Sir_Lewk (967686) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780665)

Buying accessories to prevent bodily harm from a freaking cellphone or mp3 player seems pretty excessive to me. I'd sooner reconsider my purchase of such a device than go to these lengths...

I suggest... (1)

MadKeithV (102058) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780409)

I suggest holding a good oldfashioned mass iPod burning.

We don't even need an accelerant!

Repeat after me (3, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780553)

R E M O V A B L E

B A T T E R I E S

I think it is plain and obvious to see that the reason Apple doesn't want removable batteries is to prevent a 3rd part market in battery sales but also to make products without removable batteries more "disposable." People can argue to the contrary, but the conclusion needs to fit with typical consumer behavior. Such behavior includes a high failure and low willingness to follow through with warranty claims and procedures among others such as the tendency to throw away instead of recycling. (It is useless to point out that some people WILL do those things. The majority of people will not.)

Tag (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780573)

Can we get an "undocumented feature" tag please? I find it hard to believe Apple could have done something like this by accident, therefore it must have been deliberate.

Maybe it's for when you're out on cold days, or want to heat some coffee or food or something? Apple just need to send out an addendum to the device's manual.

Anti-Apple news from Seattle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780649)

Color me shocked. I saw this "expose" on the news last night, and it reeked of sloppy reporting. They mostly talked about incidents from 5-6 years ago (i.e. older, no longer sold versions of the ipod). Pictures from the internet of melted ipod Nanos (current versions are made of metal so would never melt). Consistently showing pictures of older ipods on segment. Never once did they widen the scope to talk about similar breakdowns in similar products - I'm pretty sure you'd find stories just like all of the ipod ones on cellphones, other mp3 devices, heck, even the Zune. They did not talk about incidents involving the currently selling product line. It seemed to go out of it's way to give Apple a black eye. All in all it was a pretty stupid, sensationalistic presentation. I'm sure their masters in Redmond were rubbing their hands in glee, saying, "Well done, my pets."

Bursting into Flames... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#28780717)

...they have an app for that.

Bad or good Apple? (2, Funny)

T Murphy (1054674) | more than 4 years ago | (#28780785)

Easy way to test what to think of Apple on this: have an exec carry an iPod in his pocket 24/7. If his pants catch flame, they're liars.
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