Fixing things is my job. Destruction is one of my favorite past-times. In my experience with both areas, overheating batteries or electrical components don't explode, they fizzle and smoke. If these people claimed their iPhone melted in their pocket and burned them, I'd say it's possible. Exploding? Doubtful.
P.S. Apple needs to do something serious to turn around all this negative press they've been getting this past year (lower prices maybe???)...
Sounds like the overheating problem. "This is not a design flaw of the 3G S. You are not supposed to use your iPhone if you live in the south. The device is not meant to be used if it is hot outside."
Jokes aside, I can't imagine that tiny battery inside the iPhone could erupt with enough force to launch the phone 10+ feet into the air or shatter the glass. The glass is glued to the device it would take quite a bit of force to cause it to shatter into projectiles.
I can just imagine this playing out before... "To date, there are no confirmed exploding gas tank incidents for Pinto's and the number of reports we are investigating is very low. The Pinto's that have exploded that we have analysed to date show that in all cases the explosion is due to an external force that was applied to the Pinto's gas tank."
Even Ford had to eventually publicly admitted it was a design flaw they tried to cover up. It's a poor company that blames the user when they have not taken into account the user's safety when their product is 'damaged'.
In case you haven't heard about it, Apple tried to cover up by giving a full refund. Regardless of the actual truth, it is a very bad business practice, almost unethical. If the allegations are false, Apple could always file defamation suits which we have not seen yet. And of course, those exploding stories are not without merit too. One has to wonder making an ipod/iphone slim as it is, how can heat dissipate from within?