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Sony-built batteries recalled by Apple

1.8 million units at risk

Apple is recalling 1.8 million lithium-ion batteries for its iBook and PowerBook laptop PCs, just a week after Dell made a similar decision.

The batteries, also made by Sony, could overheat, posing a fire hazard to consumers, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission said yesterday.

Apple has counted nine reports of overheating, including two instances that caused minor burns from handling the hot computers, the commission said.

The batteries were used with the following computers: 12in iBook G4, 12in PowerBook G4, and 15in PowerBook G4. No other Apple PC models are involved.

Affected consumers are advised to log on to Apple's website to check the battery's serial number and request a replacement battery.

"We discovered that some Sony batteries in previous models of PowerPC-based iBooks and PowerBooks do not meet Apple's standards for safety and performance," said Teresa Weaver, a spokeswoman for Apple.

The recall affects only Apple notebooks using PowerPC processors from IBM, not the newer models with chips from Intel, she said.

The affected batteries were built in Sony plants in Japan, Taiwan and China, then sold by Apple between October 2003 and August 2006, both in new computers and as replacements. They include 1.1 million packs sold in the US and 700,000 sold in other countries.

Apple is telling users to remove the faulty cells immediately, so those customers will have to stay near an AC power outlet to use their computers while they wait four to six weeks for a new battery to arrive.

Apple has not yet decided what type of battery it will send users in return, Weaver said. However, the company will collect the faulty ones for safe disposal.

The move comes shortly after Dell announced on 14 August it would recall 4.1 million rechargeable batteries for its laptops, the largest recall in the history of the consumer electronics industry.

The defect in Dell's batteries, which Sony also manufactured, happened when tiny metal shards left over from the manufacturing process pierced the battery cell walls, causing a short circuit by touching an anode or cathode. Apple did not describe the cause of its own problem, but it involves the same type of battery.

This new recall could have harsh financial implications for Sony, which pledged to help pay for Dell's recall. However, Apple said the recall will not affect its bottom line.

"We do not anticipate this recall to have a material financial impact on Apple," Weaver said. "Our number-one priority is to recall and replace the affected batteries free of charge."


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