Over the past several years, there have been scattered reports from various sources about iPhones and iPods having heat-related issues. Some of them were minor, others were more serious, with claims that certain devices could catch fire or even explode. Given that most people remember horror stories of laptop batteries bursting, it was plausible enough for people to be concerned.
Warnings of overheating iPods were often taken with a grain of salt, though, with Apple claiming that environmental factors were to blame. But is that truly the case? One must begin to wonder, especially after a recent report that Apple has been suppressing investigations or reports of iPods going up in smoke.
The accusations weren't prompted by a single case. Over a dozen incidents reported to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission ended up generating several hundred pages of documentation, which had more to do with Apple's actions than the iPods themselves. It seems that when trying to request information from Apple about the composition and manufacture of their devices, the company repeatedly denied sharing any information, filing exemption after exemption to prevent details from going public.
Apple's image is paramount to their success, and a product recall would hurt them in the short run. Looking at things from their perspective, even if a few dozen iPods came out with defective batteries, it would still represent only a very small percentage of devices – making it highly unlikely for anyone to actually get hurt. Sensationalizing one exploding iPod without first verifying the root of the problem could seriously hurt their sales. They must also consider, however, the potentially worse scenario of public backlash if they simply ignore such problems. Rather than stonewall, shouldn't Apple seek to be more forthcoming?