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Apple tries to quiet talk on exploding iPod touch

updated 11:00 am EDT, Mon August 3, 2009

Liverpool iPod explodes

Apple is continuing to use legal tools to silence talk of iPod fires, according to UK publication The Times. The newspaper points to an incident in Liverpool last month, in which an iPod touch, belonging to 11-year-old Ellie Stanborough, exploded. Her father Ken was holding the player just prior to the eruption. "It made a hissing noise," he says. "I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapor."

Before it could inflict any injuries, the elder Stanborough says he threw the iPod out his back door. Within just 30 seconds, he notes, "there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10 feet in the air."

He then attempted to contact Apple, and Argos, the retailer which sold the iPod. Interactions ultimately reached an Apple executive, who had a letter sent offering a refund, but denying responsibility. The letter further imposed strict conditions on the refund, insisting that the Stanboroughs "keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential," with the possible penalty of "injunctive relief, damages and legal costs" sought in court. As a result, the letter went unsigned. "We didn't ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back," says Mr. Stanborough.

The problem may be poorly timed for Apple, which was recently revealed to have used legal interference to fight a TV station's investigation into earlier fires. The end result was over 800 pages of information, covering 15 American incidents which occurred between 2005 and 2008. Apple has allegedly attempted to downplay the fires, for instance denying knowledge of other cases when addressing complaints.

by MacNN Staff



  1. jpellino

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Yes, throwing electronic devices out the back door always improves their performance and likely had no effect on whatever flaw there was.

  1. Donevan

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Clever Ploy

    Apple had no reason to provide a refund. By his own admission the owner's father broke the iPod before any problem arose. He's presumably intelligent enough to realise that he had no hope of a refund after damaging the iPod by dropping it... however he just might get compensation (cloaked as a refund) if he screamed loud enough about the aftereffects of his breakage. Much like if you had a car, rammed the front end into a tree, then complained because the radiator exploded.

    It's standard practice for any company to have a waiver signed if they refund outside of standard warranty circumstances. This is to preclude any admission of liability. The father should have been happy with the proffered refund and closed the matter.

  1. arrannen

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Now I dont doubt that owning electronic devices sometimes comes with suprises such as the occasional short, overheating etc....

    but something tells me there's a LOT more to the story than just what we're hearing. Sure it can happen out of the blue, but it makes me wonder if they were doing something that CAUSED the unit to "explode" which is extremely likely, as well as it is human nature to exagerate an incident such as this and have never NEVER owned or known anyone who's gadget has exploded enough to lift it 10 feet in the air (I've not gotten THAT much air even putting an M80 under a 1st gen Ipod).

    I think apple is trying to silence these reports not because they want to sweep it under the rug, but to protect themselves from from the Idiots out there looking for a headline. 15 reports of units overheating in what...millions of units? thats not a conspiracy thats just dumb luck.....there's bound to be duds that come off the line. For me, apple has always been very good about replacing defective units, but then again, I am not taking everything to the news and whining in every public forum when I get a dud.

  1. lkrupp

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Always three sides...

    Apparently the guy is refusing to turn the iPod over to Apple engineers for examination. He was asked to send the unit in but wants an Apple rep to pick it up personally. He we go. Apple says the settlement letter is standard legal procedure in cases like this and I don't doubt that it is with the legal climate being what it is these days. If you are a corporation you're guilty, period, no defense possible. Apple denies trying to hush things up. There's always three sides to every story; the customer's side, the company's side, and the truth.

  1. TiberiusMonkey

    Joined: Dec 1969


    In our labs...

    ...we've taken stuff apart a lot and messed with a lot of different types of batteries over the years and I often have to wonder when I read stuff about exploding whatevers, just what the h*** they were doing/had done to it before it blew up!

  1. manleycreative

    Joined: Dec 1969



    You know, I found a severed finger in my iPod once...

    Really, who is going to throw an iPod into the yard because it is hissing and smoking unless they already know it will explode as this guy describes? I'd believe him if he said he placed in on the ground to see what it did next. Throwing it is a good way to conceal tampering or that nothing was wrong with it. However, I don't see why writing Apple etc. about damages would be an easier route had he been just wanting his money back.

    I like this exploding iPod technique. The military should look into developing this as a covert weapon.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    It is amazing how many people think that dropping an iPod Touch is reason enough for the thing to catch fire and possibly explode. Where exactly does it say that if you drop it, you've damaged it? Even throwing it out the back door wouldn't do much harm to an iPod unless he slammed it down on concrete, rather than dirt/grass.

    If such action could cause such a reaction, this would be the type of product that would require a major recall due to safety concerns. But its not, it's just a good excuse for the fanboy protectionaires.

  1. testudo

    Joined: Dec 1969



    And heaven forbid someone doesn't want to agree to big corporate's agreement for reimbursement. It's not that apple isn't claiming responsibility. It's the restrictions.

    Let's see: "We'll give you your money back, but you can't tell anyone that we even settled this dispute, let alone the terms of the settlement. And if you do say anything, we'll sue your asses off!"

    It's the corporate version of hush-money and extortion. Every company does it. Doesn't make it right.

  1. ibugv4

    Joined: Dec 1969



    Apple's brainwashed most of you to the point that you're not even logical anymore. Impressive.

  1. brainiac

    Joined: Dec 1969


    Who isnt logical?

    I used my iPod Touch as a timer for a block of C4 and my iPod was completely destroyed. Apple should have warned me that using the iPod in that manner could have damaged teh device. PS. I do not recommend downloading the C4Timer app from the App Store.

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