I found a story on PC World about it. The story was also on MacWorld, of course, but that's somehow harder to navigate for me.
They seem to be not overly concerned, Why?
... it doesn't appear to be a widespread problem, Apple said it has "received a few reports that some MacBook consumer notebooks may have hard drive issues, and we're looking into it."
Okay, I'll believe that. They seem to be keeping the problem focused on a few select individuals.
My MacBook went down in early October, then again this week.
The October issue was definitely the hard drive. I haven't received confirmation that the current problem is the hard drive, but I strongly suspect it is.
Booting in verbose mode, I see the word "mount" appear a lot on the two lines that seem to display over and over. And, when I boot from the OS disk, the hard drive isn't visible.
So, yeah, I'm thinking it's a hard drive. But, I gotta remember, I'm PC Guy. Have been for over a quarter of a century. So, I can't say I know as much about these Apple thingies as I do those PC thingies.
But I know when it doesn't work.
Still, I can't say that the problem I'm having is related to the issue reported by Retrodata. Because I can't check the firmware. Because the Mac is broken.
But my packing slip does show it is a SATA drive, so that much matches.
If you have a MacBook, you might want to look into your configuration and see if you're in danger of losing all your stuff.
Like I did.
Others report on the same issue: Information Week, Apple Insider.