SAN FRANCISCO – Customers whose older iPods had poor battery life will get $50 coupons and extended service warranties under a tentative settlement in a class-action lawsuit.
Lawyers representing consumers in the case said Thursday that the settlement could affect as many as 2 million people nationwide who bought first-, second- or third-generation versions of the digital music player through May 2004.
• Click here to read Apple's settlement terms
Apple Computer Inc. (AAPL) confirmed the settlement but deferred immediate comment.
In the fall of 2003, eight consumers filed a suit against Apple claiming the iPod (search) failed to live up to advertised claims that the rechargeable battery would last the product's lifetime and play music continuously for up to 10 hours.
Thousands of consumers complained that the battery — which cost $99 to replace — lasted 18 months or less and they could only play music for four hours or less before recharging it.
The iPod debuted in 2001, with early versions costing up to $400.
According to the terms of the settlement, people who fill out a claim form are entitled to receive $50 redeemable toward the purchase of any Apple products or services except iTunes (search) downloads or iTunes gift certificates. They can redeem the voucher within 18 months of final settlement approval at any bricks-and-mortar Apple Store or online.
Consumers who had battery troubles can also get their battery or iPod replaced through the lawsuit.
Apple currently replaces or repairs defective products that are returned within one year but the class-action settlement extends the warranty to two years, plaintiffs' lawyers said.
A judge in California's San Mateo County initially approved the settlement last month and consumers began receiving notifications by e-mail and letters this week.
A judge will hold another hearing in late August to give final approval.
"We think all the terms of the settlement are going to stick," said Eric H. Gibbs, a partner at San Francisco-based law firm Girard Gibbs & De Bartolomeo LLP, which represented several plaintiffs.
"We think it's a very good settlement, basically providing relief to the majority of the class that had failures. ... The negotiations with Apple were hard fought and at arms length and took quite a long time, but at the end of the day, the process worked like it was supposed to."