Apple probes iPhone 5-related death in China

Investigating report of woman killed when she answered her iPhone while it was charging

Apple promised to investigate a report that a young Chinese woman was electrocuted when she answered her iPhone 5 while it was plugged into its charger, according to Reuters.

In an email sent to the news service, Apple said it was "deeply saddened" by the accident, offered its condolences to the 23-year-old Ma Ailun's family and pledged to look into the incident.

"We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter," Apple told Reuters.

Apple did not immediately reply to a request for confirmation of its statement to Reuters.

According to a Sunday report by the Xinhau News Agency, the Chinese government's official press arm, Ma's sister turned to Sina Weibo, China's most popular micro-blogging service, to claim that Ma was electrocuted while trying to answer a call on her iPhone when the device was connected to its charger.

"(I) hope that Apple Inc. can give us an explanation," Ma's sister wrote, said Xinhau. "I also hope that all of you will refrain from using your mobile devices while charging."

Local police confirmed to Xinhau that Ma was electrocuted, but had not verified that her phone was involved.

Apple had problems with iPhone chargers five years ago, when in September 2008 it exchanged USB power adapters after fielding reports of electrical shocks. "We have received reports of detached blades involving a very small percentage of the adapters sold, but no injuries have been reported," Apple said at the time in a support document announcing the exchange program.

Other, isolated incidents have been reported over the years of iPhones catching fire while recharging.

Apple has also had public relations tribulations in China, most recently this spring when state-backed media lambasted the American company for allegedly providing Chinese customers sub-standard iPhone warranty services. In April, CEO Tim Cook publicly apologized -- a very rare occurrence -- for the policies and said that the company would change them to meet local demands.

Apple's acknowledgement of the electrocution was unusual in itself: The company rarely comments on reported hardware problems, preferring instead to deliver a fix at some later date without linking the update to a specific complaint.

The company's willingness to talk about Ma's death and its fast move to investigate may be traced to Apple's belief that China is a crucial market, as well as the problems it's had in maintaining its position in the country's consumer electronics market. In the most recently-reported quarter, the sales region Apple defines a "Greater China," which includes the People's Republic of China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, generated $8.2 billion in revenue, or about 19% of the total for the firm.

This article, Apple probes iPhone 5-related death in China, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer, on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg's RSS feed. His email address is gkeizer@computerworld.com.

See more by Gregg Keizer on Computerworld.com.

Read more about macintosh in Computerworld's Macintosh Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection

Tags Appleconsumer electronicsReutersSinasmartphonesMacintosh

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Ratchada Dunn

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The Huddle Board’s built in program; Sharp Touch Viewing software allows us to easily manipulate and edit our documents (jpegs and PDFs) all at the same time on the dashboard.

George Khoury

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

The biggest perks for me would be that it comes with easy to use and comprehensive programs that make the collaboration process a whole lot more intuitive and organic

David Coyle

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

I rate the printer as a 5 out of 5 stars as it has been able to fit seamlessly into my busy and mobile lifestyle.

Kurt Hegetschweiler

Brother PocketJet PJ-773 A4 Portable Thermal Printer

It’s perfect for mobile workers. Just take it out — it’s small enough to sit anywhere — turn it on, load a sheet of paper, and start printing.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?