It almost sounds like a Monty Python skit except that it isn’t really funny. Apple product users worldwide are reporting exploding and sparking iPhone and iPods in what’s becoming an all-too-familiar story over the past few years.
While there’s certainly serious potential for harm in a bursting electronics device, Apple ladles insult on top of injury by extending its legendary micromanaging approach to product returns. Some customers are being told that they will need to sign very strict non-disclosure agreements in order to have their purchase refunded– a practice that is known to be illegal in many soveriegnties.
To be fair, this is not entirely an Apple-only issue. Dell, Sony and Nokia, among others, have had their turn in this spotlight as the rush to wring out more power and life from device batteries increasingly stresses the materials. But Apple compounds the problem by making those batteries a semipermanent fixture that can’t be easily removed by consumers.
Apple spokespersons have circled the wagons and adopted the usual “not our fault” mantra, the sort of response one expects from a paranoid culture. They’re blaming users instead of design flaws. Not exactly the sort of public relations they need to employ as iPhone competition finally gets serious with devices like Nokia’s newly-announced N900.
Hey Apple: I have a much better idea. Forget this hardwired battery approach; it just adds unnecessary risk and frustration. Instead, design your products so that the stresses you cite as failure modes will eject the battery. I don’t mean anything fancy, either– drop the iPhone, the impact opens the battery door and out plops the little guy. It can’t be too hard… most of my other small devices manage this even without design intent!
I wonder how many lawsuits and/or EU fines it would take to fix this…