It has been said often that smartphones and computers can blow up and injure objects or people. The iPhone 4S, Galaxy S3, and other smartphones have been the objects of ridicule in the press, but it is generally agreed that electronics have the power to explode. A young man in his twenties recently (according to national news) fell asleep with his laptop on his bed. He had just graduated from college and was looking to pursue future education and work after a brief three-month vacation at home. While asleep, the computer exploded and took his life.
Fortunately, Tina King did not face this outcome. Although she did sustain some injuries from the explosion, she did not lose her life. According to reports, she had a burning sensation in her eye while lying down in her bed to listen to some music on her iPod Touch. As a result of this February 2011 incident, King decided to sue the Apple Corporation for $75,000 — despite the fact that her injuries only totaled $600. The lawsuit was filed in East Texas this past week regarding the one-year incident.
According to Chris Hauk of Mactrast, King claims that Apple is responsible because of intentional disregard for her health regarding the iPod Touch:
“Plaintiffs…allege, that Defendant in some manner…were otherwise grossly negligent and acted with conscious disregard and/or malice as well as negligently, and therefore, are legally responsible for the damages arising out of the events and happenings alleged in this Complaint suffered by Plaintiffs for their below described injuries, losses, and damages” (cited by Chris Hauk, “Woman Sues Apple After Her iPod touch Blows up in Her Face”).
In cases involving the explosion of iPhones or the melting of iPhone batteries, Apple has claimed that it is not their responsibility as to whether or not an individual sustains injury while using its products. The truth of it all, however, is that the cases of injury and explosion are fewer than normal cases regarding electronic products (those that do not explode or blow up). It comes down to a case of whether or not the user or the manufacturer is responsible for the product. Apple has said within its basic AppleCare Protection Plan that it is responsible only for damages or defects within the item itself. Damages such as screen cracks that come after the product is purchased and belongs to the user are the responsibility of the user to fix. Still, if only a few individuals experience explosions of the kind that Tina King and a few others have experienced throughout the years, are these explosions the result of user experience? If so, then we would expect many more iDevice users to have the same problems, to report the same issues. The fact that a few users experience these issues (regarding internal batteries, something that the user cannot change) makes the manufacturer (in this case, Apple) responsible for the item replacements.
Can a user decide whether or not his or her battery will explode? Is it the fault of the user that his or her battery decided to melt or get set on fire, when the individual could not replace the battery because the battery itself is not replaceable? I think not. If the battery cannot be reached, then users cannot replace it. Thus, the fault should lie with Apple and not with consumers. Unfortunately, Apple does not agree with me. If the battery melts or explodes, Apple will often blame the user and mandate that the user provide a deductible ($200 or so) before he or she can receive a phone replacement. The price of $200 is the same amount the individual will pay for a new phone when his or her contract ends with a preferred carrier. It seems illogical that a consumer would have to pay another $200-$300 as a deductible when the rationale behind being on a two-year contract is to keep immediate costs low in the first place. By the time the consumer pays the original price ($200) and the deductible ($250), the individual has paid for two-thirds the price of a new iPhone.
In the case of Tina King, however, she owned an iPod Touch. However, the price you pay for a product replacement equals approximately the same price as the product itself. In the case of Tina King, her product was not part of a two-year agreement with a phone carrier, so she found herself out of an iPod with a few, sustained damages. Still, she is suing Apple for $75,000 for pain and suffering (both physical and emotional), a sum that many may think exorbitant. Tina King was not the first (nor will she be the last) to experience the effects of electronics gone wrong. It will be interesting to see what side a judge lands on regarding this case.