Apple, Dell wind down battery recall efforts

Apple, Dell wind down battery recall efforts

Summary: Apple and Dell have managed to track down and replace the vast majority of their potentially "exploding" batteries, which has allowed airlines to lift the restrictions placed on the use of notebooks in-flight.Around six million batteries were recalled last year by Dell and Apple after it was discovered that they had the potential to overheat and then burst into flames.

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Apple and Dell have managed to track down and replace the vast majority of their potentially "exploding" batteries, which has allowed airlines to lift the restrictions placed on the use of notebooks in-flight.

Around six million batteries were recalled last year by Dell and Apple after it was discovered that they had the potential to overheat and then burst into flames. The notebook batteries were produced by Sony, which has accepted responsibility and changed its manufacturing process to fix the problem.

A Dell Australia spokesperson said that the majority of dangerous batteries in Australia have been replaced but wouldn't give exact figures.

"Dell's recall is proceeding well but we won't be providing a specific update on how many batteries we've replaced.

"Our recall was for 4.2 million of the Sony-made batteries worldwide. We didn't break down that number by individual countries. In Australia, the majority have now been replaced," the spokesperson told ZDNet Australia.

A spokesperson for Apple said the company had replaced all the dangerous batteries.

In response to this, Qantas has lifted all restrictions that were placed on passengers using Dell and Apple laptops. Virgin Atlantic started lifting restrictions on the use of affected notebooks in November but still insists that if a passenger is using the in-seat power supply to run their notebook, they remove the battery.

According to the Virgin Web site: "The laptop battery must be removed before connection to the seat is made. While the battery is removed, it should be placed into a plastic or airsickness bag to protect the battery terminals from touching any metal surface ... The equipment/serial number checking procedures no longer apply".

Martin Gilliland, research director at analyst firm Gartner, told ZDNet Australia that it is very unlikely all affected batteries will ever be returned but he explained that the risks are likely to be low enough so manufacturers can wind down their recall efforts.

"None of these guys will ever tell you the numbers of how many come back. It is a function of how risky the fault is as to how much effort the vendor is going to put in to getting these things back.

"Getting other companies to lift the ban or to reduce restrictions around these products requires Dell and Apple to make sure they understand the solution is adequate," said Gilliland.

According to Gilliland, Dell would have had an easier task getting its batteries back than Apple because it sells its products directly and so knows exactly who its customers are.

"Dell is in a unique position compared to most companies because it knows where its machines have been sold. It can call [its customers] and say, 'you bought this, please bring it back.'"

"Most other vendors -- Apple included -- can't do that. The best they can do is go to their channels and place adverts in the right places saying 'this is a risk, take it back'," he added.

Topics: Apple, CXO, Dell, Hardware, IT Priorities, Travel Tech

Munir Kotadia

About Munir Kotadia

Munir first became involved with online publishing in 1998 when he joined ZDNet UK and later moved into print publishing as Chief Reporter for IT Week, part of ZDNet UK, a weekly trade newspaper targeted at Enterprise IT managers. He later moved back into online publishing as Senior News Reporter for ZDNet UK.

Munir was recognised as Australia's Best Technology Columnist at the 5th Annual Sun Microsystems IT Journalism Awards 2007. In the previous year he was named Best News Journalist at the Consensus IT Writers Awards.

He no longer uses his Commodore 64.

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