RealTime IT News

Sony Caught Off Guard by Latest Battery Recall

Toshiba is recalling some 830,000 laptop batteries manufactured by Sony, the company said in a statement today.

Coming as it does on the heels of recalls by several other laptop manufacturers, including Dell , IBM , Lenovo and Panasonic among others, you'd think the consumer electronics giant would be used to this kind of announcement by now.

But apparently officials at Sony's San Diego, Calif. offices were unprepared for the latest development.

"It caught us a little bit off guard," David Yang, a spokesman for Sony, told internetnews.com.

Toshiba America Information Systems, based in Irvine, Calif., said today that it decided to carry out a voluntary replacement program in order to, "ensure customers' relief in using Toshiba's notebook computers."

Also today, Dell announced that it is increasing the number of recalled batteries from 4.1 million units to approximately 4.2 million units, based on new information regarding affected battery packs containing cells manufactured by Sony.

Since announcing the initial recall in August, Dell said it has received almost 200 million hits to its battery recall Web site.

Simon Forge, an analyst at Ptak, Noel & Associates, estimated that the recall will cost between $50 and $200 for each battery exchange.

Sony has said that it will bear the financial burden of the recalls.

Forge told internetnews.com that Sony and other battery makers will "take a step back" until they're sure they've ironed out their manufacturing issues, or until they roll out new battery technologies.

Laptop batteries represent a very stable and growing market, he said, with laptops set to overtake desktop PCs, of which there are more than 1 billion sold worldwide.

The same battery technology is also used for mobile handsets, he noted.

But Sony is unlikely to suffer ill effects from this in the long term because of the limited number of suppliers to this burgeoning market.

"Very few people can supply those industries with batteries of that quality and scale," he said.

Yesterday, Lenovo and IBM announced the voluntary recall of approximately 526,000 lithium-ion batteries worldwide manufactured by Sony.