Dell and Sony knew about battery problems nearly a year ago, waited for catastrophic failures

“Dell and Sony knew about and discussed manufacturing problems with Sony-made Lithium-Ion batteries as long as ten months ago, but held off on issuing a recall until those flaws were clearly linked to catastrophic failures causing those batteries to catch fire, a Sony Electronics spokesman said,” Paul F. Roberts reports for InfoWorld.

“Spokesman Rick Clancy said the companies had conversations in October 2005 and again in February 2006. Discussions were about the problem of small metal particles that had contaminated Lithium-Ion battery cells manufactured by Sony, causing batteries to fail and, in some cases, overheat,” Roberts reports.

Roberts reports, “Sony declined to characterize the discussions between the companies that took place in October, 2005, and then again in February, except to say that they were ‘specific to particular cells of batteries in battery packs used in Dell notebooks,’ Clancy said.”

“The CPSC is in ongoing talks with Sony about its notebook batteries beyond its order with Dell, said Wolfson,” Roberts reports. “He declined to say which laptop makers the company was working with, or to say whether it would do a broader recall of any Sony batteries with the metal particle contamination problem.”

Full article here.

Funny editorial cartoon here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Whit” for the heads up.]

Related MacDailyNews articles:
WSJ: Dell’s back-to-school business may be at risk – August 17, 2006
Sony says fire-prone batteries ‘believed to be specific to batteries supplied to Dell’ – August 16, 2006
PC box assemblers say battery problems limited to Dell; Apple still investigating – August 16, 2006
Dell issues largest safety recall in history: 4.1 million laptop batteries due to fire threat – August 14, 2006
a href=””>Another Dell laptop goes up in flames – July 28, 2006
Dell laptop fires may have been downplayed – July 22, 2006
Dell warns of earnings miss; shares plunge 15% – July 21, 2006
NY Times: Dell’s exploding laptop and other image problems – July 10, 2006
Survey shows big jump in consumer interest in buying Apple Mac; Dell takes steep slide – July 06, 2006
Dell laptop explodes into flames at Japanese conference – June 21, 2006
Time Magazine on Apple’s 13-inch MacBook: ‘Dell and HP should be very worried’ – June 07, 2006


  1. Notice how most of the corporate media drug Apple & others that buy batteries from Sony into the mix to provide cover for Dell? The fact that Dell is a heavy network advertiser didn’t affect their editorial decision, right?

    Contact the media outlets you use and demand an on-air correction. Dell & Sony deserve all the egg that will fit on their face.

  2. I have failed to communicate. Here’s what I intended to emphasize:

    When Apple releases a ‘first edition’ of some new hardware and they already have the ‘second edition’ stacked up in the shipping room, essentially ready to go as soon as they have milked all they can from over-anxious and unwise customers, then they are being deceptive – just like American car companies have done forever.

    It is a marketing ploy to sell more stuff. It is not fair to those who think they are buying the latest model when, in fact, it is already obsolete.

    I understand the march of new technology. That is not what is happening when the next generation is already available, held back, while Apple maximizes it’s profits because we consumers allow them to take advantage of us.

    There will be far less buyer’s remorse if and when we behave smarter. The question is, will we ever behave smarter. The Apple marketing machine believes we will not. Are they right?

  3. This is typical big-business economics. Bean counters will tally up the cost of a recall, tally up the cost of potential settlements, and whichever is lower wins out. Ford and GM have made the same choices with vehicles (Pintos and Saddle Tank trucks).

  4. Pete Peterson >

    Selling a product in which most of the major components are pretty much listed in the specs and nobody is ignorant of the facts and there is a review community which benchmarks the products.

    Selling a product in which there is a known defect that may cause the product to burst into flames whilst you’re using it in a confined space like, for instance, an airplane.

    Yep, those two things are the same – I’m amazed none of us could see it before your sagacious contribution to the debate.

    ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”rolleyes” style=”border:0;” />

  5. Ok cartoonists, has everyone gotten their “DELL exploding batteries” + “heightened Airport security” cartoons out of their systems yet?

    Have I seen twenty cartoons this week that are all exactly the same, or what?

    There needs to be a clearing house for political cartoons to weed out the tired duplicates before they go to press.


  6. Pete Peterson >

    There is no abuse where everyone is aware of what they are buying. Which merely requires the consumer to read the specifications and/or read the reviews. Of course, that may be a problem for your average Windell customer who, despite reading about how appalling Windows is as a software product, continues to subject themself to what can only be described as an exercise in sado-masochism. Which makes you wonder: are they a) not reading the articles b) not comprehending the articles or c) not bothered about the articles.

    As for what I buy today being obsolete by Christmas: no s••t, Sherlock. Unlike yourself, I’m quite happy for progress to continue during the lifecycle of a product that I purchase – in fact, I demand it because I want every purchase to be at least 100% better than the preceding generation.

    That progress doesn’t happen overnight, it happens by degrees in an iterative manner – the processors get a little quicker, the memory gets faster, the architectures become more efficient, the drives get faster, the OS gets better (well, if you’re running MacOS it seems to – feel free to disagree if you use a lesser so-called “operating system) and the whole cycle starts again.

    Also, whilst correct from a pedantic definition, a product doesn’t actually become obsolete simply because it’s superseded by a new model: if the computer still does the work that you purchased it for and it still does it quicker than your previous system, the obsolescence is in your own head which is probably caused by your own insecurity if you don’t have the latest technology.

    There is abuse if two parties – say, a component manufacturer and a hardware assembler – know about an issue and routinely discuss that issue over a period of nine months or more whilst deliberately withholding information regarding the issue from customers who are routinely using that product under circumstances which may cause death or injury not just to the customer, but to those around them.

    If you are incapable of seeing the difference in the two scenarios then you are either a Windell fanboy or a shill for Sony.

  7. If you are incapable of seeing the difference in the two scenarios then you are either a Windell fanboy or a shill for Sony.

    The more I read Pete silly comments the more I picture him as a lobster.

    Of course he uses Windows, what else a such a doobie could use?

  8. “Apple does the same thing ALL THE TIME as in knowingly marketing products containing inferior and immediately obsolete components to get willing consumers to buy their stuff twice”

    As others have pointed out, there’s a BIG difference between selling soon-to-be-obsolete products (Um this is the tech industry, hellooo??), and knowingly selling defective & potentially life-threatening products.

    If a cover-up (or any kind of “feet dragging”) can be proven, both of these companies deserve to be taken to the cleaners, and the people involved need to be held personally accountable. There is no excuse for knowingly placing people in such danger.

  9. Pete,

    I have to agree with Fanatic Realist…which is rare.

    Planned obsolescence is the name of the game brother. Are companies supposed to create a product and “NOT” have rev 2 or even 3 in the wings? That’s not very smart business. Companies don’t start the next version when they get the previous rev out the door. They are being developed concurrently. Some techs, feature and add-ons are far enough along to include at ship time and others aren’t.

    There’s no question of fair, you don’t have to buy rev 1, 2, 3 or indeed any rev if you like.

    But a company or companies knowing that a product is defective, and discussing the defect especially if it is potentially dangerous in no way compares with damn I just got an iPod mini last month and now they have the Nano.

    And as noted by others, a product is only obsolete if it no longer functions or works in the way it was presented to you.

    I have an old rev 2 G4 450 mHz. I use it primarily as a test bed for websites and to serve music. Is it as good as my dual 2.0 G5 with 4 gigs of RAM? No, but it still works

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