The iPod, although it has been on the French market for over a year now, can no longer be sold to French customers. French public health laws, which are stricter than the E.U. guidelines to which Apple has apparently adhered in this regard, stipulate that portable music players can only have a maximum sound output of 100 dB. Additionally, all music players need to carry a warning message that prolonged listening can cause hearing damage. Appleis iPod, when tested by French retail giant FNAC, put out 104.5 dB. Although in excess of the French limits, the sound level put out by the iPod is generally not seen as harmful (the human ears starts to hurt at around 130 dB).
Reaction to the test results was swift. FNAC, and all other French Apple resellers, immediately took the iPod off the shelves.
According to C|Net, Apple released the following statement:
"Apple has recently been made aware of an issue with its iPod product lineis compliance with French law as it applies to sound output," the company said. "This issue is correctable with a simple software update to any existing iPod, and we are taking a number of proactive steps to make that happen."
The iPod was still for sale on the French online Apple Store as of this writing. According to French Macintosh magazine SVM, it is normally left to Apple headquarters in Cupertino to respond in cases such as this. A firmware update, which would limit the sound output of the iPod, is said to be in the works, but there was no official word from Apple on that account either.
The iPod is a strategic product for Apple, because of its cross-market appeal, and it would be a shame to see the iPod absent from the holiday sales season. Until now, sales of the iPod have been untypically low in France. TMO will keep you posted of any further news on this issue.
TMO offers a regular round-up of Apple-related news from Europe, courtesy of the editor of our European Desk, Tom Terryn. Vern Seward contributed to this story.