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Sparks Fly from iPod Nano

March 12, 2008

Sparks flying from an iPod Nano while being recharged may shed light on possible defects in the product. Attention was first drawn to the problem in January in an area southwest of Tokyo, and the problem was reported to Japan’s trade ministry on March 7th. Thankfully, no one was injured during the incident.

A ministry official claimed that the defect might lie in the lithium-ion battery found in the iPod Nano, model number MA099J/A. Apple officials in Japan declined further comment, but did not contest the statement from the ministry.

Masayoshi Suzuki, an Apple spokeswoman in Tokyo, said that it is unclear where that particular model was sold, other than Japan. However, Apple did ship nearly 425,000 units to Japan from September 2005 to September 2006.

Apple Japan has been instructed by Japan’s trade ministry to search for the cause of the fire and report back. An official from the ministry said that it was unclear who manufactured that particular lithium-ion battery. In the past, these batteries have had several problems; most of them have been due to wearing out or dying, not catching fire.

Recently, however, these batteries have been blamed for several laptop fires which have resulted in recalls globally. In 2006, Sony Corp. had to apologize for the troubles which had occurred in their laptops due to defective lithium-ion batteries. They recalled approximately 10 million batteries.

This type of battery is considered a good technology due to its power relative to its size, but now, corporations are slightly wary of allowing it into products.

This iPod fire may further hurt Apple which seems to already have a slowing sales momentum. During the holiday quarter, Apple sold 3 million fewer iPods than they had expected. It seems that Apple may suffer as they company continues to attempt to persuade consumers to purchase higher-end iPods.

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