Sony plans global replacement of laptop batteries

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Friday, September 29, 2006

A Sony laptop.

After several laptop producers recalled a total of about 7 million products containing Sony batteries, the Sony Corporation said it will "initiate a global replacement program... in order to address concern related to recent over-heating incidents."

Sony previously admitted the recalls announced by Apple and Dell would cost up to 30 billion yen, which is a quarter of Sony's profits in 2005. Several news sources expect this to reflect badly on the company, as it adds to problems with the PlayStation 3 and Blu-Ray DVD. Since Dell announced recalls in August, Sony's stock has lost almost 9% of its value.

Keeping up with competitors like Apple and Dell, Toshiba and Lenovo have started recalling laptops with the lithium ion batteries. Dell expanded its program to include about 4.2 million portables. Following Sony's statement, Fujitsu too declared it would replace the batteries involved. A spokesperson for Toshiba added that the company doesn't expect there to be any problems with personal computers, but it will replace their Sony batteries anyway, over customer concerns. However, the company doesn't expect to pick up the tab for it.

A Lenovo laptop with the problem battery caught fire in Los Angeles Airport earlier this month. Consequently, Virgin Atlantic added them to a blacklist of prohibited laptops on their flights. According to Sony, microscopic metal particles are to blame for overheating and potentially catching fire "under certain rare conditions".

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission advised ThinkPad users who want to continue using their portable to switch it off, remove the battery and continue with the AC adapter and power cord.

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