Apple officials say they will investigate the case of a woman who family members said was killed when talking on her iPhone 5 while it was charging.
According to new reports out of China, the woman, 23-year-old Ma Ailun, was killed July 11 in her home when she answered a call on her smartphone that was charging. The official Xinhua news agency quoted police as saying that Ma, a flight attendant with China South Airlines, was electrocuted.
The South China Morning Post reported July 15 that the woman's brother told the Chinese-language Website Apple Daily that the family believes the fatal electric shock came while Ma was on the phone. The iPhone 5 and its accessories were handed over to the police, according to the report.
In a statement released to news organizations, Apple officials said they were "deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family. We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter."
Reuters reported that Apple declined to comment on any details of the case or whether it was an isolated case.
After Ma's death, her older sister posted a message on the Sina Weibo micro-blogging site about the incident, saying she collapsed and died. The sister also called on Apple to investigate and for smartphone users to be careful.
"[I] hope that Apple Inc can give us an explanation," the sister's message read, according to the South China Morning Post. "I also hope that all of you will refrain from using your mobile devices while charging."
The message went viral, having been reposted more than 3,000 times, the news site said.
As with many companies in the tech industry, the China market is an important growth area for Apple. China is Apple's second-largest market, and Apple CEO Tim Cook believes it eventually will replace the United States as the company's top revenue-generating country. Devices running Google's Android operating system are currently more popular in the massive country.
Cook has made several visits to China over the past couple of years as he looks to grow the market, and has met with government officials and executives with the country's largest wireless carrier, China Mobile.
In April, the CEO issued an apology on Apple's China Website after receiving criticism from a consumer advocacy group in the country, China Consumers' Association, about a warranty policy on the popular iPads. The association accused Apple of treating Chinese consumers differently from those in other parts of the world by only offering a one-year warranty on the iPad even though Chinese law requires two-year warranties on major computer components. Apple has honored local warranty regulations in other regions, such as Europe, that are more strict than in-house policies.
Apple, in the apology signed by Cook, in March changed the policy to offer a two-year warranty on iPads, and also said officials would be more diligent in overseeing warranties that apply to the company's iPhone 5, 4S and 4.
In April, Apple donated about $8 million to help people in China impacted by a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in the Sichuan province that killed almost 200 people and hurt more than 15,000.