Both Apple and the European Commission's consumer protection division say they are investigating possible cases of iPhones and iPods overheating and exploding.

In one instance, a teenager in Aix-en-Provence, France, reportedly was injured when an iPhone overheated and shattered, sending debris into his eye, The New York Times reports. In another case in the Netherlands, a man last month allegedly left his iPhone in his car and returned to find that it had caught fire and severely damaged the passenger seat, the New York Daily News reports.

Details of these incidents are sketchy and have generally come through second-hand knowledge. A spokesman for Apple Europe, Ltd., told Reuters: "We are aware of these (media) reports and we are waiting to receive the iPhones from the customers. Until we have the full details, we don't have anything further to add."

The real issue is whether the malfunctioning devices are isolated incidents or are indicative of some larger problem with the company's technology and/or the batteries they use. Lithium ion batteries, which are used in iPhones, laptops and even electric cars, have a history of overheating and damaging electronics. Last year, Apple offered to replace batteries in some iPod Nano music players in Japan after the government warned that they might pose a fire risk, the Times reports. Sony has had several recalls of its lithium ion batteries. It's unclear whether these latest potential problems are caused by the battery, however.

Image of iPhone courtesy of Apple