August 24, 2006 10:00 AM PDT

Apple recalls 1.8 million batteries

update Because of a risk of fire, Apple Computer is recalling 1.8 million batteries that use Sony's battery cell technology, which also was at the root of Dell's historic recall last week.

The Mac maker's recall, while not as large as Dell's, affects users of its iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 laptop models sold between October 2003 and August 2006, according to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Users are advised to remove the batteries immediately and store them in a safe place.

Apple said it has gotten nine reports of batteries overheating, including two cases in which users reported minor burns and property damage. However, it says no serious injuries have been reported.

"These lithium ion batteries can overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers," the Consumer Product Safety Commission said in a press release Thursday.

Additional information can be found by calling 1-800-275-2273 or visiting an Apple Web page for the recall. The page, likely flooded with traffic, was experiencing difficulties loading Thursday.

Apple's recall involves 1.1 million batteries sold in the United States and an additional 700,000 sold overseas online and through retail stores and resellers. The recall is the second-biggest safety recall ever in the U.S. electronics industry, after Dell.

Last week, Dell announced a recall of 4.1 million batteries, the largest recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry. Dell's batteries used cells manufactured by Sony that could potentially short-circuit and cause a fire, even if the notebook is off.

Batteries in Apple's recall

Apple's 1.8 million recalled batteries represent about 32 percent of the nearly 5.6 million laptops the company shipped during the quarterly periods covered by the recall, according to IDC. Dell's recall, though larger in number, represents a smaller portion of its sales, given that it sold 22 million laptops during the period covered by its recall, again according to IDC. (The number of batteries recalled does not necessarily mean that 1.8 million laptops were affected, as some users purchase more than one battery for their systems.)

Other notebook manufacturers use Sony's battery cell technology in their products, but several said last week that they had not seen the same level of incidents involving their notebooks that Dell had. A Kansas City television station reported on Wednesday, however, that a Sony user's battery caught fire, and a CNET News.com reader this week reported a similar incident with a smoking battery on a Sony laptop.

Apple recall chart

An Apple representative said the company does not expect the recall to have a material financial impact on the company. "We discovered that some Sony batteries in previous models of Power PC-based PowerBooks and iBooks do not meet Apple's standards for safety and performance," company spokesman Steve Dowling said. "None of Apple's Intel-based laptops are affected."

Dowling declined to say when Apple discovered the problem.

Sony confirmed that Apple's batteries are using the same faulty battery cells that were used in Dell's batteries. Different notebook makers use slightly different configurations of battery cells and battery packs, but both Dell and Apple used the same basic cell that can be prone to short circuits in rare cases, said Rick Clancy, a Sony spokesman.

Fortunately for Sony, the company believes that it is done replacing bad battery cells. "We're anticipating no further recalls of battery packs using these particular cells," Clancy said.

But the company will take a financial hit from the combined impact of the Dell and Apple recalls. Like with Dell, Sony plans to offer financial support to Apple's recall effort, Clancy said. The total cost of the Dell and Apple recalls could fall between 20 billion and 30 billion yen, or $172 million to $258 million, Sony said in a statement.

Your feedback on Macs

Endpoint Technologies Associates analyst Roger Kay said that with Sony's help, the financial costs of the recalls may not be material to Apple or Dell but that it's still a blow to both companies.

"To have a recall is a hit," Kay said. "Part of the brand value is quality."

Kay estimated that the cost of the Dell recall would be about $200 million if everyone affected sent their batteries back. However, a return ratio of 10 percent to 25 percent is more typical with such recalls, he said. The total costs of the recall include the cost of new batteries, the shipping costs to replace them and the cost of letting consumers know about the recall.

"The question is who shoulders the cost," Kay said. "We're sure that Sony is at least shouldering the battery cost and maybe some of the other costs."

Sony changed its manufacturing process for battery cells earlier this year, a representative said last week. The problems stem from small pieces of metal that were dislodged in the manufacturing process. Over time, those pieces of metal can potentially work their way through insulating material that separates the electrodes in a battery cell and causes electricity to flow uncontrolled from one electrode to another. This produces a great deal of heat and can cause a fire.

As have other computer makers, Apple has had to recall batteries in the past. In May 2005, the company recalled 128,000 batteries used in its PowerBook G4 and iBook G4 laptops.

IDC analyst Richard Shim said the battery issue is an industrywide concern, particularly given that notebook sales are driving the growth in the computer business. Desktop sales in the United States have dropped 5 percent this year, while notebook sales are up nearly 25 percent, largely through growth in sales to consumers.

"This raises the hackles of any consumer notebook buyer," Shim said. "Those are the guys that are driving growth, and the notebook market is driving growth for the PC industry right now."

One possible aid to the situation, he said, would be some kind of standard for notebook batteries. "It would certainly make the lives of consumers a lot easier, from a convenience and from a safety standpoint," Shim said.

See more CNET content tagged:
recall, battery, Apple Computer, notebook company, Apple iBook

116 comments

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Apple link.
The link doesn't work. :\
Posted by hawaiiinsomniac (120 comments )
Reply Link Flag
correct link...
support.apple.com/batteryexchange

:)
Posted by hawaiiinsomniac (120 comments )
Reply Link Flag
still wrong
That link is for a previous recall covering batteries sold between 2004 &#38; 2005. According to CPSC (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06245.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.cpsc.gov/cpscpub/prerel/prhtml06/06245.html</a>) the new recall is for batteries sold between 2003 &#38; 2006. This link also shows more product #'s and serial #'s than the Apple link.
Posted by Yortuk (7 comments )
Link Flag
Are we suprise
it was only a matter of time before all the companies that had batteries made by sony do this
Posted by firestarter (43 comments )
Reply Link Flag
'Not as big as Dell's'
Well duh freaking duh, who sells more laptops in the first place? The fact that Apple is recalling less just shows that they are not as big a player in the market as Dell, not that their quality is better.
Posted by KsprayDad (375 comments )
Reply Link Flag
And your point is?
So Dell is the Ford Pinto (#1 seller that also tended to blow up) of
the 21st century. Big deal.
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Link Flag
Laptops, and old age
We still use a 9 year old Mac laptop. Works fine and will reconstruct our computer records of the era. Like all our old tax files. That the original battery is still functional makes it still portable.

We have even older and functional desk top machine that is so old they has a floppy drive too. Apple has not had those for almost a decade. We can sill reference records via this machine too.

As a matter of interest I have a box of 8 inch floppies. Each side holds 128 Kbytes! No, I don't have a drive for this one. The biggest floppy I have ever seen was an early one used in the census and was 36 inches. It had one differene in that it never rotated more than 270 degrees.

duke
Posted by bigduke (78 comments )
Link Flag
More laptop manufacturer recalls are coming
Could HP, Lenovo, Sony, Toshiba, Gateway, Winbook, Averatec be next on the recall list?
Posted by R3f3r33 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's a leap
HP used Sony in the past but now use motorola batteries: "Hewlett-Packard "has no plans to recall notebook battery packs in conjunction with either the Aug. 24, 2006 Apple notebook battery recall or the Aug. 14, 2006 Dell notebook battery recall. HP has been in contact with Sony, the manufacturer of the battery cells in question, and Sony has communicated that HP should not be impacted by these recalls," HP said in a statement".

Lenovo provided a little more detail, saying that while it uses the same Sony battery cells, it relies on a different technique for packaging and charging the cells. Sony assured Lenovo that its technology was implemented differently than Apple's or Dell's, a company representative said.


Gateway said, "Based on available information and our suppliers' input, we do not believe our systems are at risk for the same malfunctions that caused our competitors to issue battery recalls. It appears that a combination of factors led to the fault requiring the recalls, and this combination is not present in our systems. Gateway notebooks use different battery cells than those implicated in our competitor's recalls."

Let's not take such a leap before the facts are in. Your using a very broad brush when you make statments like that.
Posted by DennyInCary (14 comments )
Link Flag
More garbage from Sony
Why is anyone surprised? Sony quality and service are an industry joke.
Posted by P. Jackson (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sony makes Junk
I am not. If they are not letting hackers in through their DRM; their batteries are exploding. And now they are have hardware issues with the PS3. Why does anyone buy any Sony products these days. I don't even see their movies until I can rent them to ensure Sony does not get a dime for me.
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Link Flag
What should I do?
I own a powerbook g4....do I need to replace my battery asap?? even though i have not had a problem yet
Posted by snapple55 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Check the website
Go check apple's website. It will list the battery being recalled and how to identify it. If your battery is on the recall list, then follow the instructions to have your battery replaced. The chance of you having a problem with your current battery is very small. You must decide if you are willing to take the risk of using it.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
These batteries were made in JAPAN
The problem batteries were made by Sony Energy devices based in Fukushima, north of Tokyo, and were placed in laptops shipped between April 2004 and July 2006.

The rest of the world's laptop batteries are made in China. What does that say about China vs. Japan quality?
Posted by pwoon (790 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Country is irrelevant
After all, some of the batteries that Dell recalled were made in China.

The important thing to take away from both of these recalls is to NEVER trust Sony products again. When Dell announced their recall, Sony claimed it was due to incompatibility with Dell's chargers, which is now obviously not the case.

Sony is a deceptive electronics company that produces poor quality products and frequently lies to its consumers.
Posted by SonicV4 (37 comments )
Link Flag
SO??
&lt;&lt;,What does that say about China vs. Japan quality?&gt;&gt;

Absolutely nothing. What it "say," is that Apple didn't do proper quality assurance testing before reselling these batteries. And now they are faced with the second biggest recall in U.S. history involving electronics.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
The real ? How will Sony respond?
Why all the bashing of Dell or Apple computers? This is not the fault of either of them, and last week media spin presented the problem as being Dell's fault. Here's a quote from last week's News.com article;

Sony has said the overheating problem is believed to be specific to batteries supplied to Dell and that an incompatibility between the battery cells and Dell's recharge system was to blame.

To me it looks like the real answer is Sony's design documents that they sent to the manufactures on how to build for the battery's use was fundamentally flawed and is not causing the problem just for Dell, but for a multitude of manufacturers. I will not be surprised if this is expanded to other manufacturers that use Sony batteries.

How will Sony respond now is my question. More importantly how much money are they about to loose? Good thing I dumped that stock last week.
Posted by Mr. Network (92 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Dells recharge system was to blame
Current Dell laptops apparently have a quick charge option that
over-stresses the batteries. Call it Dells fault, call it Sonys fault,
but the bottom line in that situation is a simple incompatibility
problem that presumably wont be an issue for any other
manufacturer.
Posted by the Otter (247 comments )
Link Flag
Sony should pay all of the costs
Sony is responsible so Dell and Apple should make Sony pay all costs involved. It's bogus that Apple or Dell should have to pay one cent for Sony's defective battery
Posted by rshimizu12 (98 comments )
Link Flag
Apple = Dell Quality
It's reassuring to know that Apple uses the same "high quality parts" as Dell.:-)
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Cute.
A rather humorous observation, but note that Apples CURRENT
computers dont have this problem at all; its the older ones that
shipped with funky batteries.

Actually, Im kind of glad theyre recalling them. After 2+ years of
use, laptop batteries tend to have lost some of their charge and
this way I can get some new ones! :)
Posted by the Otter (247 comments )
Link Flag
More trouble for this low-quality company.
I'm talking about Sony, of course.

Not only do they have to pay out to help Dell, but they'll probably have to help pay for this recall as well. Not only that, but this may not be the last company to recall laptops that use Sony batteries.

I wouldn't be surprised if some companies come out and publicly announce that they will stop using Sony laptop batteries altogether.

Another nail in the coffin that this company has built.
Posted by SonicV4 (37 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sony! LOL
SONY SUCKS! OMG SONY SUCKS!
Posted by Stan Johnson (322 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Now we know why..
Now we know why the PS3 is so expensive. To pay for screw ups like this.


IT also explains why the PS3 games, according to the latest information available at various PS3 news sites, will cost more than $60.0 U.S. dollars. Estimates are leaning towards 70-80 range.


Ah Sony, how low we have sunk. Glad I don't own Sony stock.
Posted by techguy83 (295 comments )
Reply Link Flag
So where's the lectures from the Mac cultists?
I want to hear all about how your Mac's hardware is so much better than a PC's.
Posted by (402 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Stupid comment
Seeing as it is a Sony battery and this is a voluntary recall. I read
this morning that the CPSC cleared Apple's batteries as being ok,
but Apple chose to protect its customers nonetheless.
Posted by CitizenX (522 comments )
Link Flag
So if a BMW uses the same gasoline as chevy...
then you'd say they're both the same? We're talking about a battery
here, not a motherboard, graphics card, or a hard drive.
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Link Flag
OK
Here you go. Apple's hardware is FAR superior to anything you
personally will ever use, including your cheap, Walmart toenail
clippers.
Posted by lkrupp (1608 comments )
Link Flag
BATTERY BY SONY U MORON!!!
Get you head out of your PC case! This will affect other PC makers
as well! The real story here is Sony and their QA on these battery!
This is not a MAC vs PC issue!
Posted by windraiden (9 comments )
Link Flag
WELL SAID!
Now, those Apple evangelists claims it's Sony's fault, not Apple's... Funny how fast they change their opinion on things. Just several days ago, when the recall only seemed to have affected Dell, without wasting a moment, the Apple fanboys/Dell bashers were all over Dell.

Now those dudes have foot in mouth.
Posted by dysonl (151 comments )
Link Flag
Real story is Sony, of course
They suffer setback after setback, and the widespread problems with their laptop batteries is just the latest.
Posted by M C (598 comments )
Reply Link Flag
apple recalls 1.8 million batteries
maybe not as big as dell's because they dont sell as many computers
Posted by mmdt1985 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Flaming Sony VAIO!
Check this Out!...
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ktvu.com/technology/9728922/detail.html" target="_newWindow">http://www.ktvu.com/technology/9728922/detail.html</a>
Posted by s0s860 (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I hereby rename this product
to the Apple Hindenbook..
Posted by ajbright (447 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Invalid serial number?
I just tried using Apple's online exchange form and I got the
message that my battery's serial number was invalid, even
though it falls squarely within the recall range. Has anyone else
had this problem? Oh, I did buy this battery at the Apple Store,
too.
Posted by Gomphos (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
yes, I have
it did the same thing to me, until I put all the letters that were in the number in lower case. Try that...if it doesn't work, try apple customer support, I think they are open during normal business day hours....
Posted by bleah311 (5 comments )
Link Flag
Invalid Serial for me, too
This is my 2nd battery recall for my PowerBook, and just like the last time, Apple's website says the battery serial number is either invalid or not part of the recall, despite the fact that it is within the range. Last time (May 2005), I called Apple and was told I had to go through the website. Since the website wasn't working for me, I placed a quick call to the CPSC to file a formal complaint. I had a return call from Apple in 30 minutes and they took my info. This time, the website said the same thing, but they did take my information via phone and are shipping me a new battery. A tip for calling in... if you can get through at all (even if you don't hear anything over the phone initially), STAY ON THE LINE. The VRU will cut itself off, just wait through it.
Posted by ptkdude--2008 (25 comments )
Link Flag
"Invalid Serial Number" - me, too
Exact same problem here. It accepts my PowerBook SN but not my battery SN, even though it is definitely within the "recall range." Looks like I'm going to have to call the 800 number tomorrow morning. I'm thinkin' two, maybe three hours on hold. The perfect way to spend the morning!
Posted by zipppit (1 comment )
Link Flag
APPLE - Wake-up
After failing the online registration process for both batterys from
my two Apple Powerbooks (that clearly fell withing the serial
numbers being recalled) I spent three hours either attempting to
dial into the phone number offered (total joke) or waiting before
someone answered only to tell me they couldn't take the
information over the phone. I love my Apple computers, but have
always hated Apple's idea of service - thanks for reminding me why
Apple!
Posted by Tech Victim (7 comments )
Link Flag
Weird Apple Statistics
This is what you're forced to believe if you're a Mac fan:

&gt;&gt; you are still wrong, as recent estimates put it at around 4.8% and climbing.&gt;&gt;

Sorry, it's 2.5 percent and it goes up and down (but around 2 percent). That's what the reliable sites (IDC, Gartner) say, from Apple's and the industry's sales figures, not "estimates."

&gt;&gt; I reiterate my earlier post: Macs command roughly 15-20% of the home market. &gt;&gt;

Right. Any figures from an independent source, not a Mac fanboi site?

&gt;&gt; For the last three years, over 50% of all Macs sold have been to first-time Mac users. &gt;&gt;

That's a "statistic" reported only by the Apple Stores. If that was actually true, it means that repeat buyers of Macs have been in the 1.2-3.0 million a year range. Must be a lot jumping ship.

&gt;&gt; Market share itself is not an indicator of quality.&gt;&gt;

It's what people choose to buy. If they don't want a Mac, they prefer a PC. It's right for them.

&gt;&gt; Macintosh Computer dominate the top tier of Graphics, Web, Multimedia, Video and Scientific Production and Modeling.

If you take your figures from ten years ago, they do.

&gt;&gt; PS -- In my Production Company:

Yeah - I worked for a $12 billion company, without a Mac in the place.
Posted by Ars Venture (11 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Go away pre-teen monkey!
&lt;eom&gt;
Posted by anarchyreigns (299 comments )
Link Flag
That's just dumb.
First, recent articles have put Mac market share at between 4.6%
and 4.8% of the total market. That includes corporate sales,
where IT staff have locked out almost everything but Windows as
a way to ensure job security. More problems equals more need
for them. Don't believe me? Your last point, that you worked at a
$12 billion company with no Macs is telling, since IT people
routinely claim that you should use the best sytem for the job.
The odds of any one OS being best for every job at a company
that size are incredibly small. So small that it is statistically
impossible.

Second, if you spend any time in an Apple store you'll likely
bump into one of those new to Mac buyers. They're easy to spot,
since Windows has taught them to worry about computer
purchases. They have heard that Macs are easier to use and far
less trouble, but they haven't yet learned it for themselves. This
results in a worried, yet hopeful look that longtime Mac users
don't have.

What makes your post just plain dumb though, is where you try
to refute the fact that market share isn't an indicator of quality.
Maybe you're just not old enought to remember the Ford Pinto.
It was a piece of junk that didn't just break down easily, it also
had a disturbing tendency to explode if hit from behind, even in
a low speed collision. That car was the number one seller for at
least two years, even though just about every car on the market
was better in many ways!

People don't choose Windows because it's what they prefer. They
choose it because it's the only thing they know about.
Posted by Macsaresafer (802 comments )
Link Flag
Battery recall
Having two Dell laptops in my home I am very concerned over this overheating problem as reported by the CPSC. I have been working in the field service of computers since their inception and never seen this problem that was a normal occurance. That is to say the situations I have seen were caused by the users. Several times the users were not careful with preventing contamination from getting into the contact area of both the battery and the exposed connection area on the bottom of the laptop itself. These self induced problems caused many batteries to over heat but never to the extent illustrated in the news. I have seen many an external power module get hot enough to begin making the moulded plastic cases become pliable. Also the battery cases do become quite warm and some began to swell enough so that they no longer fit properly on the cavity provided. This on several occasions were enough to make the users force them back into place, resulting in jamming of the electrical contact area and shorting the leads together, this was met with many sparks and some melting of the seperators between these leads and fusing them together, on both the battery and laptop. This could indeed cause some open flames, but the users were smart enough to remove the battery and disconnect the power source. The manufacturers could indeed take a bit more time in design of these contact areas and engineer them such that these critical areas are not close enough together to allow contact during these situations. Nothing can be made foolproof as fools are so ingenious. Stupidity breeds accidents and as we all know accidents happen to the best of us and not all can be prevented. As we begin to ask for more powerful units, they also demand more power be provided by both internal and external power sources. In the effort to keep weight down and power up, smaller packages with more potential are sure to create spectacular events when things go wrong.
Posted by mjd420nova (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Their products
are as good as their rootkits. Couldn't happen to a better DRM loving company. I wish them many more failures in the future.
Posted by GrandpaN1947 (187 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I want to add this
I have mistakenly posted my previous comment on the story thinking that it was about the proported failure of the SONY LTHIUM ION BATTERIES used in Dell and Mac laptop computers. I did not read the prior 68 comments until after I made my post. Now I realize that most of those comments had nothing to do with the original story. When did it turn into a WINDOWS--MAC bash session?? I work on both systems and do not draw lines in the sand and give each side a label. Each system is engineered for the ease of certain types of OPERATORS. Each has it's proponents and detractors. Where does that fit into the original story????
Posted by mjd420nova (91 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Fit? No where of course
just like all the Apple fans posting when Dell had their recall, stating the same BS about how it proves something about crappy parts, M$, or some other such nonsense.
It's an argument of convenience. The fanbois will pick up anything to use as a weapon, no matter how ridiculuos.
Posted by catch23 (436 comments )
Link Flag
Agreed.
I completely agree. I'm a Mac user, but have no problem with
PCs. Both have their strong points. It's as bad as the Democrat
Republican thing. This is about faulty batteries common to many
electronic devices. Sony generally makes good stuff too.
Posted by (6 comments )
Link Flag
Seems like the media has been asleep on this one
This recall has been going on for over a year now, maybe longer.
I had the battery in my Powerbook G4 replaced about the time
Apple notified its customers via their customer support page
back in '04. All of a sudden this is big news, I wonder why?
Posted by nwflyfisher (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Seperate Recall
This is a seperate recall. I remember checking last year also to see
if my battery was affected by that recall, at the time it wasn't
though it sure is now...
Posted by cdnjay (21 comments )
Link Flag
Poor Battery Exchange Service in HK
In US, people get free shipping for their new batteries.

In Hong Kong, we have to visit the service providers in person
TWICE! First we have to go there and give up our old battery for
registration. Then we have to wait for at least 10 days and visit the
service providers AGAIN to get the new battery.

It's simply poor service from Apple!
Posted by asiayeah (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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