Exploding iPods Draw Scrutiny in Europe

Apple sells hundreds of millions of iPods a year. Some of them apparently explode, usually when put in adverse conditions. The EU wants to know why and has issued an inquiry.

ipod touch
The investigation of the case was sparked (har) by a young French customer who was slightly injured when the iPhone screen spontaneously cracked and a shard hit them in the eye.

Ton Van Lierop, EC spokesman for industry and enterprise, said Europe's taking up the problem in the interests of consumer protection, health and industry. He revealed Apple had been invited to comment on the above incident, but hadn't done so until this week.

The EC is also seeking information from France and the UK, where an iPod reportedly exploded, as well as from the US government entity in charge of product security.

Apple's take is that these cases are "isolated incidents."

Officials in Brussels Tuesday confirmed Apple to be investigating possible causes for these few incidents in which the iPhone screen reportedly spontaneously shattered. Meanwhile the company insists there's no general problems with its product, said a commission spokeswoman, Helen Kearns.

"At the end of last week, we asked Apple and the member states where the incidents occurred to provide us with information on the matter," commission spokesperson Ton Van Lierop, currently charged with the industry and enterprise dossier, told EUobserver.

The move followed reports of at least three iPhones or iPod music players overheating and exploding in France and Britain. One of the UK customers said Apple had tried to keep them quiet by making them sign a hush contract in exchange for the refund money. They declined.

In Korea, Apple has issued a recall on first generation iPod Nanos for overheating and exploding issues related to the batteries.

According to French financial daily Les Echos, witnesses to the most recent incident in Aix-en-Provence, France, reported that an iPhone suddenly began to "crackle and pop like a deep-frier" before breaking apart and hurling pieces of its screen everywhere. Bits of glass hit an adolescent boy in the eye, according to his parents.

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