Jason_Pic130If you download the latest firmware for Panasonic digital cameras, beware of one caveat: it locks out “non-genuine” Panasonic batteries. It allegedly does so for safety reasons. Frankly, I find this cynical explanation unconvincing.

According to Panasonic’s site, “Panasonic Digital Cameras now include a technology that can identify a genuine Panasonic battery. For the protection of our customers Panasonic developed this technology after it was discovered that some aftermarket 3rd party batteries do not meet the rigid safety standards Panasonic uses.” They warn about the potential dangers of overcharging, internal heating, and short circuits. As a former employee of AT&T (back when it was Cingular), I can attest to the danger of cheap, third-party peripherals. Horror stories circulated of shoddy car chargers damaging the phone.

But Panasonic’s firmware update doesn’t just lock out crappy aftermarket batteries; it bars any and all competing batteries (including high-quality products from competitors). Canon, Casio, Energizer, Fujifilm, JVC, Kodak, Nikon, Phillips, Samsung, and Sony all make batteries for digital cameras. These are hardly rinky-dink organizations. 

Should Panasonic be allowed to do this? Yes, they should. It’s their prerogative to do whatever they feel is necessary for the sake of business. And it’s our prerogative, as consumers, to call a spade a spade, and warn others when something stinks.

Note: The preceding represents the view of the editor and not necessarily ECN.

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