apple recalls 1.8m batteries

August 24, 2006

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On the heels of Dell’s recent battery recall, Apple today announced that it will also be recalling 1.8 million batteries sold with several iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 models between October 2003 and August 2006. Both the Dell and Apple recalls are sourced to faulty cells manufactured by Sony, which is financially supporting both companies as they work to replace the potentially explosive units, a process that will cost Sony 20-30 billion yen ($172-$258 million USD). Owners of affected models should enter their battery serial numbers at Apple’s recall page or call 1-800-275-2273. It is also recommended that defective batteries be removed from use as soon as possible and stored separately (they can short-circuit and ignite even while the computer is off).

According to Sony, Apple’s recall should be the last related to this particular issue, which stems from a manufacturing defect that can allow rogue bits of metal to pierce the electrode insulation with dangerous–and visually spectacular–results. Recent news that Dell, Apple, and other companies are working to develop a set of standards for batteries used in portable electronics is welcome; the success of that cooperation may indeed save us from unfortunate incidents such as this. Until that day, however, you had best keep wearing that flame-retardant suit.

–D. S. W.

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