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8/24/2006
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Apple Recalls 1.8 Million Notebook Batteries, Will Provide Free Replacements

The Apple batteries, like 4.1 million batteries recalled by Dell last week, are made by Sony.

Apple said Thursday that it will provide free replacements of PowerPC-based notebook batteries affected by its recall with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).

The Apple recall, announced Thursday by the CPSC, involves 1.8 million lithium-ion batteries for iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 laptops sold between October 2003 and August 2006. The batteries cost about $130 each, according to the commission.

"We discovered [that] some Sony batteries in PowerPC-based PowerBooks and iBooks do not meet Apple's standards for safety and performance," Apple spokeswoman Teresa Weaver said. "None of Apple's Intel-based notebooks are affected, only certain models of iBooks and PowerBooks."

The recall is the second this month involving notebook battery cells made by Sony. Last week, Dell said it is recalling 4.1 million laptop batteries made by Sony because they posed a fire hazard.

Apple's No.1 priority is to recall and replace the affected batteries, Weaver said. The Cupertino, Calif.-based company has established a Web site, support.apple.com/batteryprogram, that provides details for those seeking to exchange batteries.

The Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on safety issues raised in the recall. According to a CPSC press release, "Apple has received nine reports of batteries overheating, including two reports of minor burns from handling overheated computers and other reports of minor property damage. No serious injuries were reported."

Weaver noted that Apple's 15-inch MacBook Pro notebooks--the subject of a voluntary battery-exchange program announced two weeks ago--aren't related to the recall. But she declined to say if the company has determined the cause of previous reports of batteries "bulging" or swelling in some Apple notebooks. Apple said it would replace those batteries free because they were found to be not up to the company's standards.

In the weeks leading up to that exchange program, several Apple notebook users had filed reports--which were circulated on the Web--of laptop batteries that "bulged" or expanded. In some cases, the bulging was so severe it bent the notebook's metal case.

Weaver declined to comment on those reports. Scott Wolfson, chief spokesman for the CPSC, also declined to comment on that matter, saying that Apple had objected to the commission disclosing information about bulging batteries.

"Apple has asked that any questions related to that issue be deferred to Apple for their response," Wolfson said. "When conducting a recall, a firm is entitled to allow certain information to be disclosed by CPSC, and they can make a claim that certain information not be disclosed." Wolfson said Wednesday that the commission had reviewed the MacBook Pro batteries and determined they didn't present a safety threat.

Apple resellers interviewed by CRN over the past several days--before and after the recall was announced--said they had received only a few complaints about Apple notebook batteries, and most of the complaints focused on other issues, such as batteries not fully recharging.

"They've had battery issues in the past," David Salav, president of Webistix, a Holbrook, N.Y.-based solution provider and Apple specialist, said Thursday after the Apple recall announcement. "This is nothing new. You know how Apple customers are. They are just going to keep on buying because they are Apple customers," he said. "At the end of the day, I think it's not going to affect business."

Apple's Weaver said the company does "not anticipate this recall to have a material financial impact on Apple."

The remark was similar to a statement issued last week by Dell, which indicated that Sony would pick up the tab for its recall.

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