For Apple, It May Not Be the Money
You’ve probably heard the buzz created when Apple's attorneys contacted promotional products distributors last week. The issue is aftermarket charging cords and AC adapters sold that connect to iPads, iPhones and iPods, and Apple’s claim that they infringe on Apple patents. The attorneys are requesting, on behalf of Apple, that distributors immediately stop selling the products. Distributors I’ve spoken to say that this is a major issue. These products are in increasing demand from their end-user clients at precisely the time suppliers are pulling them from their product lines. Suppliers we’ve asked are hesitant to comment due to expected litigation, but it’s quite possible the industry impact may be even bigger than is being reported.
Aftermarket electronic charger and battery problems are not new. In July of 2013, a China Southern Airlines flight attendant was electrocuted while using an iPhone 5. She received an electric shock when she attempted to answer a call while her phone was still plugged in to a charger. While Apple stopped short of directly blaming a faulty third-party charger for the death of the flight attendant, it did add a page to their Chinese website with information on how to determine if a charger is a genuine Apple product.
Failed chargers that don’t come from the device manufacturer are not exclusive to Apple. In July of this year, a teenager in Texas was awakened by a Samsung Galaxy S4 smoldering under her pillow. The teen’s father suggested that the phone overheated, the battery swelled beyond normal size, and a small fire was created. Fortunately, the teen was not injured and, after inspection, Samsung issued a statement saying the battery was not original equipment. Samsung’s “Health and Safety and Warranty Guide” includes language warning against both using “incompatible batteries and chargers,” and “covering the device with bedding, yourself, or thick clothing….”
Jeff is executive director of the Quality Certification Alliance (QCA). Prior to that, he was responsible for developing safe and compliant brand merchandise for Michelin. He has worked with brands in publishing, consumer products, broadcasting and film for over 30 years. Follow Jeff on Twitter, and QCA on Facebook.