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Friday, August 06, 2010, 06:35 am PT (09:35 am ET)

Apple must publicize iPod nano fix in Japan, iPhone 4 to access DoCoMo

Apple has been ordered to inform customers in Japan how to receive a replacement battery for iPod nanos that can catch fire, while a wireless provider has taken steps to allow unlocked iPhone 4 devices on the DoCoMo network.

iPod nano battery fix

The trade ministry in Japan has ordered Apple to state on its website that users can receive a replacement battery for their iPod nano, after a handful of minor burns occurred from problems with the device, according to Reuters. A few months ago, the ministry declared the device a fire hazard.

Similar reports of iPod batteries catching fire gained attention last year in Europe as well.

In 2008, Apple began a voluntary replacement program for owners of first-generation iPod nanos, some of which had defective batteries. The company said the defects which caused batteries to overheat were found in "very rare cases" with hardware sold between Sept. 2005 and Dec. 2006.

In Japan, Apple must now publish an "easy to understand" statement on its website to tell users how they can receive replacement batteries or get advice. The issue has caused minor burns in four cases in that country.

Unlocked iPhone 4 compatibility coming to DoCoMo

Later this month, Apple's newly launched iPhone 4 will debut on the NTT DoCoMo network in Japan, but not in an official capacity according to Reuters. Currently, the iPhone is exclusive to rival carrier Softbank Corp, which also has sole access to the iPad with 3G.

The wireless service provider Japan Communications will sell SIM cards that are compatible with the DoCoMo network, with the intent of allowing users with an unlocked iPhone 4 to use the hardware on the rival network. The report said that the unlocked devices can be bought online or abroad, suggesting that Apple will not sell an unlocked phone in Japan.

DoCoMo's network in Japan is said to be stronger than Softbank, and the carrier has been working to counter the iPhone with other smartphone options. But now it plans to reach out to those who wish to use Apple's handset on its network.

"Aiming to boost competition, the Japanese government has suggested mobile carriers lift restrictions blocking the use of different SIM cards in mobile phones and allow users to switch carriers without changing their handsets," the report said. "DoCoMo has said it plans to follow the guidelines from next April, but Softbank has not yet agreed to do so."