How iPad’s booming popularity is affecting a commodity price

“Investors from JPMorgan Chase & Co. to BlackRock Inc. are trying to make money from the exploding popularity of iPads and increasing sales of hybrid cars by investing in producers of lithium for batteries,” Jesse Riseborough reports for Bloomberg.

“Prices for the conductive metal, the lightest in the periodic table, have tripled since 2000 in a market now worth $1 billion a year as uses expand in vehicles, ceramics, electronics and lubricants,” Riseborough reports. “Apple Inc. and Toyota Motor Corp., maker of the Prius electric-gasoline car, have few alternatives as they pursue higher performance and mobility, leading Dahlman Rose & Co. analysts to forecast lithium demand will double by 2020.”

Riseborough reports, “Talison Lithium Ltd., whose shares have gained 22 percent in the last month, together with Soc. Quimica & Minera de Chile SA, Rockwood Holdings Inc. and FMC Corp., account for almost 95 percent of world supply. Rio Tinto Group, the third-biggest mining company, may join the largest suppliers if it goes ahead with a mine in Serbia it says is capable of producing 20 percent of global output of the metal… The advantage of lithium-ion over other battery types is that a typical cell can generate more electricity than competing cells like such as lead-acid. There is about 1.7 grams (0.6 ounces) of lithium carbonate equivalent in a mobile phone, 2.1 grams in a smart phone and 20 grams in a tablet, according to Dahlman Rose.”

Read more in the full article here.


      1. Takes many years to get to a proven, reliable, production state with independent laboratory testing, production volume trial units and early real world trials.

        Then the mobile computer people have to evaluate them and decide if they switch and alter their product designs including the software used to monitor, charge and discharge the cells and evaluate their real world lifetimes.

        IBM announced a new form with a Lithium Air construction for a Lithium battery a few months back which might shorten the time to get it to production state and be properly tested.

        Then, I will guess IBM will have to work closely with the likes of Apple and other users to produce cells specific to each mobile device in very high volumes.

        Thus, I would guess that it is still going to take IBM many years to get it ready for production.

  1. “Conductive metal”?

    LOL. OK, I know that chemistry and physics are not required for landing a writing job, but in the technology field they should.

    So, slowly for everyone: A metal is a material that’s conductive. If it’s not conductive, it’s not a metal.

    If you want an aggressive adjective, try “reactive”.

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