Do you have one of those (cheap) third-party iPhone chargers laying around? It may be time for a safety upgrade.
Apple just announced a new program to allow users to trade in third-party chargers for official branded USB chargers at a discounted price. Apple launched the program after news reports surfaced claiming a Chinese woman was electrocuted while talking on her charging iPhone.
A woman claiming to be the sister of Ailun Ma, the woman who was electrocuted, told the story of her sister's untimely death on Sina Weibo, China's micro-blogging service. As the story goes, Ma was planning her sister's wedding and dropped to the floor after answering a call on the iPhone 5, which was plugged into the wall to charge. Ma reportedly purchased the iPhone in an official Apple store and was using the original charger.
Apple Gets Proactive
Apple launched an investigation in mid-July and has now come out with this new trade-in program. Some media reports suggest the Chinese woman was using a third-party charger. However, Apple could not immediately be reached for comment. In an official statement, the company said:
"Recent reports have suggested that some counterfeit and third-party adapters may not be designed properly and could result in safety issues. While not all third-party adapters have an issue, we are announcing a USB Power Adapter Takeback Program to enable customers to acquire properly designed adapters.
"Customer safety is a top priority at Apple. That's why all of our products -- including USB power adapters for iPhone, iPad, and iPod -- undergo rigorous testing for safety and reliability and are designed to meet government safety standards around the world."
Starting August 16, 2013, consumers who have concerns about USB power adapters can drop them off at an Apple Retail Store or at an Apple Authorized Service Provider. For a limited time, Apple is making sanctioned USB power adapters available for $10 when you turn in a third-party adapter. The offer is valid through Oct. 18.
Apple Can't Afford More Problems
"It's probably a good time to get all these third-party chargers off the streets. Apple is being proactive and saying, 'When it doubt be safe.' They really can't afford to have more deaths," Rob Enderle, principal analyst at The Enderle Group, told us. "We've seen three incidents. One person is still in a coma. That's enough to take it seriously."
According to The Daily Mail, a Chinese man reportedly fell into a coma after suffering an electric shock as he plugged in his iPhone 4 to charge it. And an Australian woman was hospitalized after getting shocked by her iPhone, which led a consumer group there to launch a campaign to raise safety standards. Apple is listening.
"Clearly those third-party chargers are part of the problem. Whatever is causing it, Apple wants those third-party chargers off the market and out of people's hands," Enderle said. "When people are injured using your products, parents stop buying it for their kids because they just don't think it's safe and you can take a huge hit even if it's not your fault."