Sony-made battery fire in discontinued Apple notebook computer reported in Japan [UPDATED]

“Japanese authorities reported Tuesday the first case in Japan of an Apple laptop catching fire and ordered the U.S. company to investigate the trouble involving the faulty Sony batteries and report back within a week,” Chisaki Watanabe reports for The Associated Press.

Watanabe reports, “A laptop made by Apple Computer Inc. overheated and caught fire in April, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said. The user sustained minor burns after the computer caught fire, according to Apple spokeswoman Michiko Matsumoto, who confirmed the case.”

“Last week, the Cupertino, Calif.-based company told its customers to return 1.8 million batteries worldwide that could cause their laptops to overheat and catch fire – just 10 days after Dell Inc recalled 4.1 million faulty laptop batteries for the same reason. It was the largest recall involving electronics in the history of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission,” Watanabe reports.

“In both cases, the problematic lithium-ion batteries were made by Sony Energy Devices Corp., a subsidiary of Sony Corp. based in Japan,” Watanabe reports. “Apple has received nine reports in the United States of the lithium-ion batteries battery packs overheating, including two consumers who received minor burns after handling overheated computers. Apple has also received reports of minor property damage, but no serious injuries have been reported.”

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Major error of omission. Nowhere in the full article, headlined “1st Apple Laptop Fire Reported in Japan,” (Are they hoping for more by denoting “1st?”) is the rather salient fact reported that Apple’s discontinued iBook G4 and PowerBook G4 models are the two Apple products affected by this battery recall. Those models – which used lithium-ion batteries – have since been replaced by the lithium-polymer battery-powered MacBook and MacBook Pro products respectively.

[UPDATE: 1:34pm EDT: It was an Apple iBook G4 as reported by EE TImes here. Apple replaced iBook G4 models with the MacBook in May.]

Apple products affected:
Computer model name – Battery model number – Battery serial numbers
12-inch iBook G4 – A1061 – ZZ338 – ZZ427, 3K429 – 3K611, 6C519 – 6C552 ending with S9WA, S9WC or S9WD
12-inch PowerBook G4 – A1079 – ZZ411 – ZZ427, 3K428 – 3K611
15-inch PowerBook G4 – 3K425 – 3K601, 6N530 – 6N551 ending with THTA, THTB, or THTC, 6N601 ending with THTC

More info: Battery Exchange Program iBook G4 and PowerBook G4

Related articles:
Dell Japan President blames Sony for recall of fire hazardous batteries – August 29, 2006
Apple to recall 1.8 million Sony-made iBook G4, PowerBook G4 batteries – August 24, 2006
Apple, Dell, HP, Lenovo, and others working on battery standard – August 23, 2006
Qantas first airline to restrict in-flight Dell laptop use due to fire-prone batteries – August 23, 2006
Dell and Sony knew about battery problems nearly a year ago, waited for catastrophic failures – August 21, 2006
Dell issues largest safety recall in history: 4.1 million laptop batteries due to fire threat – August 14, 2006
Another Dell laptop goes up in flames – July 28, 2006
Dell laptop fires may have been downplayed – July 22, 2006
NY Times: Dell’s exploding laptop and other image problems – July 10, 2006
Dell laptop explodes into flames at Japanese conference – June 21, 2006

44 Comments

  1. Does anyone know if Sony computers have been affected by this problem at all. If not does this mean they didn’t use their own batteries or that they reserved this line for other companies and used different ones themselves?

  2. My dad owns a Powerbook G4 and I checked his laptop 3 days ago. He JUST missed the range of the recall batteries.

    Off topic completely, but does anybody know when Nintendo’s press conference about the Wii is being held?

  3. An engineer with considerable experience in the field made the following comment during an interview recently:
    ‘The problem is a condition called thermal runaway. The fact that this condition continues to the point of creating a fire is just bad design. There are a number of methods of keeping a defective or failed battery from doing this. The batteries were either poorly designed or a conscious decision was made to not employ one of these methods.’

    Translation- either they were designed by people who didn’t know what they were doing or a cost-based decision as made not to put available technologies in the design.

    Either way it’s ugly for all involved.

  4. Two days ago, I checked my dad’s Dell out on the website- you know, they really need to advertise that there’s a battery recall. Its in simple blue text at the bottom of the home page. Don’t be ashamed Dell, this is your [and Sony’s] fault!

    Anyway, he has two notebooks and one is affected. I ordered him a new one- get this- 20 business days! Maybe it’s supposed to take that long (cause I’m so used to quick the quick 2-5 from Apple), but 20 MORE days to wait for a battery, meanwhile, my dad needs his laptop for work?

    So now he’s gotta stay plugged into the wall to do work- thus removing the word “portable” from his shitbox Dell.

    His next computer will be a MacBook Pro.

    MW: What is taking so long? Shouldn’t they have a large supply or replacement batteries? Morons.

  5. OzzysCross101:

    That’s about the same length of time you can expect if you had a recalled iBook or PowerBook battery. In fact, Apple says 4-6 weeks, which is considerably more than 20 business days.

    But aside from that, yes, Dell is a piece of crap.

  6. My replacement’s on order. Until it arrives I’ll take the risk, because at no time do I notice the battery feeling warm on my PB12.

    The HDD however is another story ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”wink” style=”border:0;” />

  7. Ok, the defective Sony batteries have been recalled. And they aren’t in any of Apple’s current shipping products either. So there really isn’t anything else Apple can do about it at this point. What else does the Japanese government want?

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