An outbreak of iPad battery failures could take a heavy toll on Apple's bottom line, if the company stands by its generous replacement policy.
In the event that an iPad's battery loses the ability to hold a charge, Apple will replace not just the dodgy power cell—but the whole iPad.
"If your iPad requires service due to the battery's diminished ability to hold an electrical charge, Apple will replace your iPad for a service fee," the company states in a support bulletin currently posted on its Web site. The fee, according to the document, is $99.
Apple, however, gives itself plenty of wiggle room in determining whether it's responsible for issuing a replacement for the tablet-style computers.
"Your iPad is not eligible for Battery Replacement Service if the product has been damaged, for example, as a result of an accident, liquid contact, disassembly, unauthorized service or unauthorized modifications, or if the product is not operating correctly as a result of a component failure," Apple states.
Apple also warns customers they'll need to back up data before sending their iPads in for replacement.
"You will receive a replacement iPad that will not contain any of your personal data," Apple says. "Before you submit your iPad for service it is important to sync your iPad with iTunes to back up your contacts, calendars, email account settings, bookmarks, apps, etc," the company states.
It was not immediately clear if Apple plans to replace battery-challenged iPads with brand new units—which could be costly—or with refurbished models. Apple has said that a properly functioning iPad battery should hold a charge for about 10 hours.
Apple plans to start shipping iPads next month, starting with the April 3rd debut of the Wi-Fi only models. The device is now available for pre-order through the Apple Online Store. The company is also allowing customers to reserve a limited number of iPads and pick them up at Apple Retail Stores.
Pricing for the Wi-Fi version, which features 802.11 connectivity, starts at $499 for the 16GB model, $599 for the 32GB model, and $699 for the 64GB version.
The Wi-Fi + 3G versions of the iPad will ship in late April, according to Apple. The 16GB model is $629, the 32GB model is $729, and the 64GB version is $829.