Lawyers: iPod update acknowledges flaw

Apple acknowledges flaw?

Attorneys representing iPod owners in a national class-action lawsuit today said that by introducing a limitation on volume control, Apple has acknowledged that its iPod line is flawed. "It is good to know that Apple finally acknowledges that there is a serious flaw with its iPod product, and is giving U.S. purchasers the same protection it has been giving French purchasers since 2002," said Steve Berman, an attorney representing the plaintiffs. "Unfortunately, this patch doesn't help the millions of people who own older models -- it is a jack-legged workaround that falls well short of what consumers demand and deserve."

Apple has admitted that its patch is compatible only with its fifth-generation iPod and iPod nano, though a congressman today applauded the company for introducing the safety measures. The suit was originally filed January 31st, and claims that Apple's iPod causes hearing loss, that the company does not adequately warn users of the risks, and that the design of its white earbud phones worsen inherent risks.

In 2002, Apple was forced to pull devices from stores in France after the country imposed a limit of 100 decibels (DB) for personal listening devices. Shortly afterwards, the company introduced updated software that limited the volume output, but did not offer similar safeguards in the U.S.

Apple devices can reach 130 DB -- comparable to an air raid siren -- well beyond safe listening levels, according to the complaint filed in January. The suit points to studies which indicate that hearing loss may occur after 28 seconds of sound at 115 DB.

"While the software allows users to set levels, the company does next to nothing to educate consumers about what is safe," said J.R. Whaley, another attorney representing the plaintiffs. "Many consumers would conclude that 100 DB is twice as loud as 50 DB but that's not the case; for every 10 decibels, the loudness actually increases twofold. Fifty decibels is twice as loud as 40, 60 is four times as loud as 40, and so on."

The plaintiff is seeking compensation for hearing loss and upgrades that will make the iPods safer, citing the company's early compliance efforts for sound volume in France.

"We contend that Apple has done next to nothing to inform consumers regarding these issues," Berman concluded.

  1. bsaxton 03/29, 06:02pm think you know smokers will be sueing cigarette makers...

  1. dscottbuch 03/29, 06:17pm

    this is 1000 Lawyers at the bottom of the ocean is a good start.

  1. RalphS 03/29, 06:17pm

    if a human being is born who is too stupid to find out:

    - that the coffee at McDonald's might be hot (or coffee in general for that matter)

    - that it is not a good idea to dry your pet in a microwave

    - how to adjust an iPod's volume,

    that person will sooner or later find out that the US is a moron's paradise (and every lawyer's paradise). How about accepting a little responsibility for the way you interact with your environment? I don't get it.

  1. fletcher 03/29, 06:23pm

    These money sucking leeches don't care about the consumer. The fact that they give this back hand slap to Apple for addressing their concerns is just proof positive that they are in it for the money. As if there was ever any doubt.

  1. I.P. Freely 03/29, 06:23pm

    "While the software allows users to set levels, the company does next to nothing to educate consumers about what is safe," said J.R. Whaley

    Also car companies doesn't tell you that standing in front of a fast moving car is bad for your health....

  1. t6hawk 03/29, 06:30pm

    What is it with these morons and stuff like this? I agree with ralphs and his post here.

    My problem is why is it only Apple that has been singled out? I don't see volume limits on other mp3 players, TVs, or Movie theaters, car stereos etc. If the person is stupid enough to listen to loud music, well that is their own fault. Heck, go to any concert and I'll guarantee the music will be very loud also.

    Aren't people supposed to take responsibility for what they do instead of blaming problems on others? Doesn't Apple have a warning or something in the iPod user manual about volume? Legally I would think that would shield them from any kind of lawsuit like this.

  1. rspress 03/29, 06:31pm

    I canít here you. I have a 3G iPod!

  1. ADeweyan 03/29, 06:33pm

    But it has more to do with the legal system than the iPod.

    They make it sound like there is no possible legitimate use for volume levels that high.

    Not everyone listens through headphones (I almost never do), and you remove the headphones (literally and figuratively) and this argument is flat our ridiculous.

  1. gamato 03/29, 06:35pm

    Last ditch effort! Funny how any other lawyer can argue that this in no way an admission of guilt, only providing a new feature in response to a public demand. If a whole group of people were complaining about the ipod being too bright and hurting people's eyes, Apple might similarly release a brightness limiter in response. Try again layers, your case is sinking....

  1. gamato 03/29, 06:39pm

    I use studio grade headphones to listen to the music from my ipod (high impedence) which means I NEED to crank my volume to get an acceptable listening level. How about that for an legitimate use for having high volume levels available on my ipod?

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