Battery recall cause for panic? Null says no

Evan Blass
E. Blass|08.25.06

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Battery recall cause for panic? Null says no
With all the sensational press about battery recalls and exploding laptops (much of it found right here on these very pages), you might think that your own notebook is a ticking timebomb set to blow at any moment (Qantas sure does). Therefore, many people have been tempted to eject their recalled batteries as quickly as possible and send them off to Dell (and now Apple) before they burst into flames and become fodder for numerous gadget blogs. But is the situation really that urgent? Former Mobile editor-in-chief and current Wired and Yahoo! Tech contributor Christoper Null sat down to do the math, and figured that the odds of your lappy going boom in, say, the next two months, are actually pretty slim. Using the Dell recall as a baseline, Null went in with the assumption that the problem is much worse than the company knows about (or is reporting), and that over the next three years, ten times as many batteries will blow as have already combusted so far. Even in such a pessimistic scenario, the odds of your particular Dell pulling a Dell in the next 60 days (1 in 1,230,000) are far less than the chances that you'll die this year from freezing to death, choking on your own vomit, and even falling out of bed. While you may disagree with Null's numbers and methodology, the point here is clear: there's no real need to panic, and if your notebook hasn't already turned into a charred husk of its former self, you'll probably be okay waiting out the initial flood of returns and sending your battery back in a few weeks. After all, if we let the defective batteries change our way of life, then the defective batteries have already won.
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