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The Japan economy, trade and industry ministry warns consumers -- Apple responds by offering replacements

According to Yahoo News Japan warned Apple iPod nano users of a potential fire risk after two new instances in which the portable music players overheated were reported in August.

The Japan economy, trade and industry ministry received two new reports of minor fires in Tokyo caused by overheating iPod nanos, said ministry official Hiroyuki Yoshitsune. There were no injuries and the cause is still unclear, he said.

There have been earlier reports of iPod nano fires, and Japan had already launched an investigation in March after another Apple iPod nano sent out sparks. According to the ministry, Apple was notified of a total of 14 similar cases in Japan. Out of those, two users suffered minor burning.

"Users need to be careful about overheating of the machines," the ministry said in a statement, warning that particular care is needed when recharging the iPods. "Our ministry told Apple to improve its technological development and probe the cause of the incidents so that similar incidents do not happen again”.

The ministry said the incidents were caused by four models -- MA004J/A, MA005J/A, MA099J/A and MA107J/A -- of which 1.81 million units were sold between September 2005 and September 2006 in Japan. All of the iPod nanos in question are older-generation iPod nanos. The incident, involving the MA099J/A model, occurred on January 8 in Kanagawa prefecture near Tokyo. Apple reported the matter to the ministry on March 7. The cause of the sparking, it is believed, is tied to the lithium-ion batteries used in the iPod nano.

Following the reports out of Japan, Apple issued the following statement:

Apple today responded to statements reported by Japan’s METI regarding batteries in the first-generation iPod nanos. Apple has determined that in very rare cases, batteries in first-generation iPod nanos sold between Sept. 2005 and Dec. 2006 can overheat, causing failure and deformation of the iPod nano. Apple has received very few reports of such incidents (less than 0.001 percent of first-generation iPod nano units), which have been traced back to a single battery supplier. There have been no reports of serious injuries or property damage, and no reports of incidents for any other iPod nano model.

Any first-generation iPod nano customers who have experienced their battery overheating should contact AppleCare for a replacement. Any other customers who have concerns about their first-generation iPod nano battery should also contact AppleCare.

Lithium ion batteries, which Apple uses for iPods Nanos, are common in consumer electronics. In the past major battery makers, such as Sony have occasionally been forced to recall large numbers of lithium ion batteries after reports of overheating and fire.

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Coming soon... the iFire!
By JasonMick on 8/20/2008 7:58:44 AM , Rating: 5
Another month and the return of the iFires...

These problems have been around for some time, but Apple has refused to acknowledge them. Even my current generation iPod Classic gets a bit hot when I've been listening to it for a while.

On a side note, news media take note, I'd like to think I invented the term iFire, as my use was the first I ever saw. Apple, don't apply for a patent, you're too late.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By mdogs444 on 8/20/2008 8:03:01 AM , Rating: 5
I'd like to think I invented the term iFire

I think that term will come in handy next time Apple does a large scale employment reduction.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By Alexstarfire on 8/20/2008 9:54:28 AM , Rating: 2
LOL. I can just see it now..... iFire........ YOU.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By theapparition on 8/20/2008 10:54:09 AM , Rating: 3
Internal to Apple, they prefer to refer to it as "planned obsolesence".

How else will they get the sheeple to buy a new unit?

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By 67STANG on 8/20/2008 11:26:23 AM , Rating: 2
One of the scariest things about this story is that Sheep hair is flammable.

Oh the humanity.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By Inkjammer on 8/20/2008 8:27:56 AM , Rating: 2
My 1st gen iPhone starts to get uncomfortably hot after about five minutes, especially if I'm watching video or surfing around on Safari. It gets decently warm when on its charger, but not bad.

I've never noticed any heat related issues with my 80GB 5G iPod, however.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By afkrotch on 8/20/2008 8:52:10 AM , Rating: 2
I've never noticed any heat related issues with my 80GB 5G iPod, however.

It's cause they use a slow moving hdd, not multiple tiny memory chips each generating their own source of heat, on top of the other components, especially the battery. There's a reason batteries have a warning of "keep away from heat."

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By KernD on 8/20/2008 8:53:41 AM , Rating: 3
How could it get hot in only 5 minutes?
They must have some kind of defect, I don't have an iPod but I have a Zune and no mater if I'm watching video or listening to music for hours, it never seemed to output any heat at all.
I have the 80 gb version, so a hard drive is inside, and even it doesn't seem to put out much heat. I must admit, I never watched video for hours, only 20 minutes, but I did with music.

I know batteries can output some heat, but only if you drain them right? And these devices don't use much power, it's not like a laptop.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By Inkjammer on 8/20/2008 9:03:45 AM , Rating: 2
Combination of the LCD screen and rapid battery drain, I assume. I've not heard of iPhone's exploding (yet) but given all the stories of the Nanos the possibility is out there. Then again, if one device explodes out of a million... the odds aren't bad at all.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By omnicronx on 8/20/2008 9:28:37 AM , Rating: 2
Its a defect in the manufacturing process of the lithium battery.. I saw an article on how stuff works a while back that explains it the best..
The exact reaction that generates the electrons varies, depending on the type of battery. In a lithium-ion battery, you'll find pressurized containers that house a coil of metal and a flammable, lithium-containing liquid. The manufacturing process creates tiny pieces of metal that float in the liquid. Manufacturers can't completely prevent these metal fragments, but good manufacturing techniques limit their size and number. The cells of a lithium-ion battery also contain separators that keep the anodes and cathodes, or positive and negative poles, from touching each other.
If the battery gets hot through use or recharging, the pieces of metal can move around, much like grains of rice in a pot of water. If a piece of metal gets too close to the separator, it can puncture the separator and cause a short circuit. There are a few possible scenarios for what can go wrong in the case of a short circuit:

* If it creates a spark, the flammable liquid can ignite, causing a fire.
* If it causes the temperature inside the battery to rise rapidly, the battery can explode due to the increased pressure.
* If it causes the temperature to rise slowly, the battery can melt, and the liquid inside can leak out.
Even my new zune 4GB gets a bit hot while charging and playing at the same time, I assume if the battery is defective, it does not need that much heat.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By DragonMaster0 on 8/20/2008 4:04:18 PM , Rating: 3
RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By marvdmartian on 8/20/2008 9:53:41 AM , Rating: 2
Personally, I think the iBurn might be a more appropriate name for it! ;)

Oh yeah.....and Sansa, FTW!! LOL

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By Smartless on 8/20/2008 3:41:32 PM , Rating: 2
I kinda like iTorch since it sounds like iTouch.

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By Hare on 8/20/2008 12:42:30 PM , Rating: 2
Let's see if you'll get flamed this time for your lack of critisism towards Apple, no wait...

RE: Coming soon... the iFire!
By Pirks on 8/21/2008 4:00:21 PM , Rating: 1
Yeah, where's that little screwy schizo named jonmcc33 when you need 'im?

Just the other day
By BigToque on 8/20/2008 10:11:15 AM , Rating: 3
I've sort of always wondered if the people this happens to are doing something that might cause this to happen, and then something happened to me just the other day.

I listen to my 30GB 5G iPod Video in my car through the Pioneer/Apple iPod connector. It plays music and charges at the same time, which is great because I never have to take the iPod out of the car unless I want to load more music on it.

The other day the iPod froze, but I assume it was still charging. After about 30 seconds, the iPod was so hot I couldn't touch it (it was inside the little black protective sleeve they provide).

If I had not checked on it, I'm curious to know if it would have caught on fire.

RE: Just the other day
By phazers on 8/21/2008 1:13:03 PM , Rating: 2
Probably would have caught fire if you had not checked on it.

Of course, there is a solution - just carry an iCE cube with you :)

coincidence? I think not!
By omnicronx on 8/20/2008 9:09:33 AM , Rating: 2
How much do you want to bet that many of these cases in japan involve people using non factory or cheap chargers (such as car chargers, ebayed walled chargers).

I have seen cell phone batteries fused to their casings from people using chargers that were not meant for their device. It would not surprise me one bit if this was one of the causes with all the cheap 3rd party accessories available in japan.

RE: coincidence? I think not!
By Hare on 8/20/2008 12:45:07 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe... at least China produces huge amounts of dangerous chargers. I think an iPhone cought on fire just a few days ago in Sweden and there have been so many fires that I don't think bad chargers explain everything.

By Inkjammer on 8/20/2008 8:23:02 AM , Rating: 2

Consumerist posted a story about this just the other day. Apparently, some guy's iPod Nano exploded while charging and Apple claimed they'd "never heard" anything like it and waffled over replacing it for the guy. And then this? Hrmm. I know every company has their lemons, but Apple seems to try really hard to convince the world their lemons are diamond encrusted.

Cool it
By bribud on 8/20/2008 8:54:31 AM , Rating: 2
You know someone from Apple thought of this idea...

"Oh, just tape a 12cm fan to it, juice it up, and quit whining!"

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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