Apple's Japan unit is offering to replace the batteries of first-generation models of the iPod Nano, a device that has seen its share of complaints about overheating that triggered fires and burns for some customers.
A notice buried deep within the Web site for Apple Japan links to an Apple support page that advises customers concerned about their first-gen iPod Nanos overheating to contact AppleCare for a new battery. Any customer who has actually experiencing an overheating incident can contact AppleCare to receive an entirely new iPod Nano unit, Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr told CNET.
The overheating battery, which Apple says occurs in very rare cases, is symptomatic of iPod Nanos sold between September 2005 and December 2006, and could prevent the unit from working or deform its casing. Apple Japan says that the issue was traced to a single battery supplier and that it's received no reports of similar problems with other iPod Nano models.
Reports of the overheating battery surfaced in 2008 when Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) began investigating incidents of the unit sparking fires, leading to minor burns of some customers. The Ministry suspected then that faulty batteries could be the cause of the overheating.
Since then, the battery defect has triggered 27 overheating incidents, including six fires that left four people with minor burns, according to the Ministry. It also added that Apple notified it just last week about 34 other, less-serious overheating accidents, a delay that the Ministry said was "truly regrettable."
The Ministry has also been upset by the lack of prominence of the replacement notice on Apple Japan's Web site, prompting Apple to vow to "improve the homepage in a way to make it easy for users to understand with regard to warnings and measures to prevent recurrences of incidents," according to a Ministry statement.
Neumayr said that an easily accessible Web page would be set up this week that explains how to get a replacement battery. He added that Apple is also sending e-mails to registered users announcing the replacement program.
"We've worked closely with METI to make sure first-generation iPod Nano customers who are concerned with their battery have the latest information," said Neumayr.
Apple has sold around 1.8 million units of the first-generation iPod Nano in Japan since September 2005.