USPS Won't Ship iPads Overseas, And Techies Couldn't Care Less

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The odd thing about the news that the United States Postal Service will soon ban overseas shipments of iPads, Kindles, or similar electronics with lithium batteries is how little a splash it seems to be making among electronics fans. Fast Company's Neal Ungerleider had the story hours ago, and we've still seen no mention of it on Mac Forums, MacRumors, or the tech blogs. The news has been out there for a while even before FastCo wrote it up -- The Postal Service mentioned it in a bulletin on May 3 and the folks on the shipping website Shipito's message board noticed last week -- and it just doesn't seem to have grabbed the attention of gadget fans.

Perhaps the implication of the ban, which starts May 16, hasn't fully sunk in: This means you can't use the postal service to ship an iPad, laptop, smart phone, or any other device that uses a lithium battery, anywhere overseas -- including to soldiers posted abroad. The reason, Fast Company's Ungerleider explains, is that the batteries "can explode or catch fire in certain conditions," and they've actually been implicated in two cargo plane crashes since 2006. But we'd have expected more of a chorus of outrage or at least confusion at the news among tech types. 

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There's another, probably more likely reason for the lack of uproar: Not that many people use the post office for shipping packages internationally. While hard statistics on the USPS's international operation weren't readily available through its website (we've called to ask if such data is available and will update you if we find it), the decline in overall mail volume has been well documented. Meanwhile, you're more likely to ship electronics with companies such as DHL, whose international shipping operation is growing, and which doesn't ban the batteries. Just a thought: If the postal service is struggling so much, maybe it should think about making changes that encourage people to use its service, not discourage them.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.