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Battery Recalls A Blow to Sony's Recovery 197

Yasser writes to mention the fallout from yet another Sony battery recall. Sony's stock hit a one-month low today on the news that they'd be pulling over a million batteries off the market. The recall is expected to have little impact financially, but has prompted the Japanese government into ordering Sony to look into the battery problem. From that article: "The ministry instructed the two companies to investigate the safety of Dell models Latitude, Inspiron and Precision and report on their findings by the end of August, the ministry said. Earlier this month, problems with battery cells supplied by Sony forced Dell to recall an unprecedented 4.1 million laptop batteries in the United States. "
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Battery Recalls A Blow to Sony's Recovery

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  • by TCM ( 130219 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:38AM (#15978719)
    Really, I'm sorry that your profits - that you earned so hard by putting out piles of junk - now get eaten into by recalling said junk.

    Who came up with the idea anyway, that products must not harm the customer? Sheesh, won't somebody think of the profits!
    • Sony's problem is obvious - its British Born, US citizen CEO, Howard Stringer []

      Stringer was head of Sony US prior to becoming the first US born CEO of a major Japanese firm. In Sony US, content was were the profits were, and Stringer obviously thinks this will be true of Sony Worldwide too. He was behind Sony's DRM initiatives and the company certainly appears to be run with the content being king to the detriment of the electronics division.

      If I was a shareholder, I'd be calling for his resignation.
      • British born or US born? You say both.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        He didn't take over as CEO till March 2005 [] which was after some of these batteries were already manufactured. Also, you seem to contradict yourself by saying "British born" and "First US-born CEO". I'm assuming you mean "foreign born" which if you do, you are wrong. Carlos Ghosn is the CEO of Nissan and has been crucial in turning that company around.
        • But he's the first foreign-born CEO of this _particular_ japanese company. Which... isn't quite as impressive, I must admit.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      As a company grows to dominate its market, the company typically starts producing shoddy products. Success breeds sloth. It is human nature.

      Last year, Toyota (yes, Toyota) recalled about 2 million vehicles in the USA. (Contrast that number to the 200,000 vehicles recalled by Honda.) Simultaneously Toyota has grown to become the #2 automobile company in the USA, surpassing Ford.

      We already know about GM and Ford. Since achieving domination of the global market in the 1970s, these companies produced s

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by dgatwood ( 11270 )

        Starts producing shoddy products? Sony has been producing mostly crap consumer products all the way back to when I was doing TV production work in the early 90s. It's about time somebody actually noticed....

        Seriously, I've basically been boycotting Sony for about five years now (except two pairs of $12 earbuds), ever since they stopped doing software updates for their Series I TiVo with major gaps in its functionality and massive software bugs (reboots every 30 days, once a year loses most of its chann

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Evets ( 629327 )
        You can't say that GM and Ford have corrected their problems. I have owned several of their cars produced within the last 15 years and they have been among the worst cars I have ever owned. You can't walk into a dealership without feeling dirty for either service or sales. They actually gave me back my Mustang after having drained the brake fluid and not replacing it. I spent a year and a half disputing a rattling problem in a vehicle that they refused to acknowledge until I discovered that they actuall
        • Same is true with Honda. The bean counters seem to screw everything up with quality as they wont to sell junk for the same price as their previous higher quality automobiles. I guess it looks good on someone's resume that they saved X amount of money but long term it hurts profits and corporate image.

          Dell used to make some nice computers but everything done their today is evaluated at a cost analysis level and they hardly even have engineers as they have a fixed cost. No wonder it became junk?

          Oddly Hyundia
          • Same is true with Honda. The bean counters seem to screw everything up with quality as they wont to sell junk for the same price as their previous higher quality automobiles. I guess it looks good on someone's resume that they saved X amount of money but long term it hurts profits and corporate image.

            Huh? Honda's have a great track record. I have an Acura (fancy Honday) and only had one problem; the transmission, which had been recalled and fixed, and has been fine every since.
        • Complaints about the powerbook batteries started popping up almost immediately when they were first released. I have a jan 2005 12" powerbook which battery is covered by the recall. to be perfectly honest if i place my hand on various spots on the bottom of the notebook, where the harddrive is is scortching, where i assume the cpu/gpu is is hot to touch but the battery is comparitively cool. im not going to turn down a new battery but if the heat my particular battery is putting out is of concern id be far
        • >My Jaguar was a beautiful car, but had the most bizarre set of problems I've ever heard of (a door and sunroof that opened only when they were in the right mood, occasionally working headlights, etc.)

          I don't know much about the newer models, but this sort of thing is considered normal behavior for British cars of the 50s,60s, and 70s. The proper mental attitude to take is to look on it a charming quirkiness when your headlamps go out at night in a driving rainstorm. Of course, you are already used

    • Sony, some baloney (Score:3, Informative)

      by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

      Really, I'm sorry that your profits - that you earned so hard by putting out piles of junk - now get eaten into by recalling said junk.

      It all started to go downhill after Akio Morita died. The way I saw it his influence kept Sony's focus on high quality, innovative products. After his passing Sony became more interested in profitability over quality. The stories of Sony products not being up to snuff are no legion. Too bad. They had one of the best names, because of the reputation and now they're wr

      • Seems to be the whole IT market in general. Maybe its a new industry trend? Not to sound flamebaitish but the only company I know that has truly changed in quality is Microsoft. Not as flexible as Unix (until the powershell comes out) but I was having a conversation with my gf about windows 3.1 and how horrible it was. It appears compaq/HP are improving again in quality after Fiona left and I hope its true. There is not one brand I trust anymore. Not even Apple.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

          I remember a field service tech from DEC, in to work on our PDP system back in the mid 80's, telling of this service call to a foundry. Something stopped working and they found a the system schematic in the back of a filing cabinet which indicated there was something this company had in there, somewhere which ran everything. It was a PDP-4, running off an 8 inch floppy disk. Years past its installation in a corner of the foundry floor the foundry hand remodelled and put all sorts of structure, vents, wiri

    • by CallistoLion ( 651747 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @12:48PM (#15979383)

      Not being a Sony apologist here, but really, the batteries are junk?

      The Apple recall involved 2 minor injuries in 9 complaints out of 1.8 million batteries. Anyone care to shine a light on any other industry and look for a product this reliable? Toasters, anyone? According to the US Consumer Product Safety website, one toaster model alone resulted in 1066 fires in a product that sold 234,000 units. The batteries in the Apple recall have been in laptops since 2003 - three years with 2 injuries and 9 complaints.

      • by Phisbut ( 761268 )
        There's also a difference in how one expects to be able to use the product. You wouldn't bring a toaster on a plane (at least, not in your handbag). You might however want to bring your laptop. If your laptop battery explodes while in the airplane, you'll be spending the rest of your life around Guantanamo, no matter how many times you say "It's Sony's fault".

        A toaster burning down your house, you can recover. Being sent to Guantanamo... not so sure.

        • If one of those babies fails in the way it did in that video, the only way you are going to end up in Guantanamo is if you happen to be flying over it when the incident occurs, I think.
      • by Snover ( 469130 )
        Remember that a toaster's job is to get really hot in order to toast things -- it makes sense that there would be a higher incidence of fire. Batteries, on the other hand, are not supposed to get hot enough to toast things, let alone explode. For a better example, try to find out how many power supplies have caught fire/blown up/caused significant injury.
    • Right now, Sony is the only thorn in the side of Microsoft's plans to take a monopoly hold of the games console market. I'm not a fan of sony or its DRM plans, but the last thing anyone who cares about the IT industry needs right now is for Sony to go down.

      That said... a megacorp has a "one month low"? What kind of news is that? Sounds like someone trying to make a story where there isn't one.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by snard6 ( 990260 )
      that products must not harm the customer

      Well... Unless you're buying your product from Dr. Kevorkian
    • Sheesh, won't somebody think of the profits!
      I think I see a new /. meme in the making here. Bravo sir, bravo!
  • by raz0 ( 899158 )
    What about Thinkpad batteries? Are they safe? Although it doesn't say anywhere on the battery that it's a Sony, it *does* say so in software. I have a Thinkpad T43.
    • The fires caused by these batteries are pretty rare events. I think maybe 2 powerbooks have actually caught on fire (out of ... millions?). So, I wouldn't be too worried about your thinkpad battery unless/until they actually announce a recall for it.

      OTOH, I would also make sure my home owner's insurance covers fire and is paid up.
    • Lenovo says so... (Score:3, Informative)

      by wbean ( 222522 )
      Lenovo claims [] that their batteries are safe. They are, however, made by Sony.
      • They are, however, made by Sony.

        To be correct, some of them are made by Sony. Lenovo also ships batteries from Sanyo and Panasonic. You can find out from where your battery comes with Lenovo's Parts Lookup [] tool. If you're running Linux and have the tp_smapi module loaded, following command should also do it:

        cat /sys/devices/platform/smapi/BAT0/manufacturer

      • I'll take my rattly Sanyo battery, though...

        (For those that don't know... Sanyo cannot make a battery for a ThinkPad that doesn't rattle horribly. However, Sanyo's batteries don't EXPLODE, at least. :P)
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx ( 565205 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:39AM (#15978731)
    "Sony's stock hit a one-month low"
    WTF is this - the "Mad Money" show? I thought 2001 finished off the day traders.
    • WTF is this - the "Mad Money" show? I thought 2001 finished off the day traders.

      Huh? The comment about stock price was made (I believe) to indicate that there is a growing concern in the financial sector about Sony's future profitability -- which is something no one on Slashdot should be surprised about, given the kind of coverage we tend to see here[1]. It demonstrates that the Street is as aware of Sony's myriad problems as your typical non-fanboy nerd.

      Also, 2001 killed off the marginally unsuccessful

    • I mean, WTF, once a month lows happen once a month!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Sony's been having one-month lows every single month?!?! Sell!!!
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I mean, WTF, once a month lows happen once a month!

        Just in case you were serious: A "one month low" isn't a "once a month low". It is "the lowest it has been in the past month". That needn't happen once a month -- if the stock is rising it will happen rarely, if the stock is falling it will happen often.

    • Sony's stock hit a one-month low

      Yeah, that's pretty irrelevant.

      What I do wonder about is the possibility of airlines saying "No More Laptops On Board", or at a minimum - "No Li* Batteries." There have already been ground fires and inflight fires - fortunately all survived. But it's not hard to imagine airlines restricting batteries in the future. No doubt the Japanese government is concerned about this as well. That's probably why the ministries are beginning their investigations.

      Sony seems to be missing

  • by ConsumerOfMany ( 942944 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:41AM (#15978751)
    Root Kit, PS3 price vs features, Blu Ray delays and cost, Battery recall, pretty much every comment from ken regarding the PS3. You can only go up from here right?
    • by dolson ( 634094 )
      What was wrong with the PS3? It has games that feature historically accurate giant enemy crabs!
    • Dont forget UMDs and the relative failure of the PSP compared to the DS.
      • Yeah, some failure. Taking away 40% of the market share from Nintendo and having a new Playstation line to ride all the way to the bank must really have hurt them financially, and made them cry at night.
    • by HiThere ( 15173 ) *
      That unashamed "rootkit vendor to the world" can't go up until it changes it's ways...or goes bankrupt. At this point going bankrupt would *improve* Sony's credibility.
  • by Kagura ( 843695 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:45AM (#15978790)
    ...but, wow, it seems like Sony can't do anything right anymore, and every move they make is scrutinized for its downfalls. I'm not referring only to this Battery Recall. Is this a symptom of slashdot and its heavy skewing? What other sites should I check out to broaden my horizons?
    • I'm not part of the "Sony makes crap" crowd. I've got a digital camera from Sony, and it's great. I love some its features...specifically that it runs on AA batteries and can recharge them when it plugged in. That means spare batteries are cheap and plentiful in the event I forget to plug my camera in for a month. My home stereo is also a Sony, and has worked perfectly for years.

      That said, I think Sony is really going to screw up the consumer electronics market if they have their way. Rather than play along
      • by Reapman ( 740286 )
        Since when is Blu Ray a "proprietary standard" by Sony? Last I heard the mix is roughly half and half between HD and BD. I'm voting to stay with DVD myself right now, but I'm tired of the whole "Blue Ray = Sony" thing. Sony is a member of the group, but isn't the only one.
    • by 2nd Post! ( 213333 ) <> on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:59AM (#15978938) Homepage
      Well, what has Sony done right?

      Overhyped a difficult and expensive PS3
      Overpriced a lower quality UMD
      Restricted the PSP to UMD and flash sticks
      Released a rootkit on "CD"
      Manufactured defective LiIon batteries
      Released stupidly restricted "MP3" players that didn't play MP3s until 2005
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Slashdot heavy skewing? WTF? Yeah against Microsoft. Sony is it's own worst enemy and they have even admitted it. I've bought my last Sony product because they like to criple things. In order to download video's off my new mini dvd camcorder I have to use Sony's software. I would prefer to just plug the USB cable in and use windows explorer or adobe to get it. It's things like this that drive away customers.
    • And the funny point is Sony Vaio seems to have no battery problem. Are they using IBM battery of something??? I am glad that Apple now recall the laptop batteries. Now, it is quite obvious that it is not the Dell engineers, but Sony who is at fault.

      Apart from the prestigious factor, I don't think the quality justify Sony's price tag nowadays. The playstation series is still good. Other than that, Sony is a tech and trend follower rather than leader. Its quality is really just so and so (btw, we got to
  • by EdwinBoyd ( 810701 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:49AM (#15978850)
    Whatever else you can say about Sony, their hardware is typically top notch (and almost always crippled by their software). If they're letting quality slide on the manufacturing side then they're in danger of losing their one remaining ace, the perception that "Sony makes good shit".

    I'm talking about the average consumer who's unaware of rootkits, sonicstage or ejecting MMORPG users into space.
    • I've not even had good luck with their hardware. My PS2 is still chugging along fine (though my Dreamcast and Gamecube have developed a few problems), but I've had a Sony VCR just totally bite it at last than 2 years old. The left audio input on my Sony TV quit working, and the CD tray motor on my Sony CD changer died with only a few years of light use.

      It's anecdotal, but I've simply had terrible luck with Sony stuff. I'm sure I'll have serveral people come out and lambast me for it, but these days if I
      • Oddly, I find on a purely anecdotal level that people either go through hell and back with their PS2s or absolutely fine since they day they brought it. Me, I'm in the latter group - and I've never had any Sony product backfire or break under normal usage (yet). But I'm no Sony sympathiser - the mistakes they are making are stupid, high-profile, and guaranteed to screw them over unless they do something soon. PS3's price and castrated controller is just the jewel in their crown of mistakes.
    • by jjohnson ( 62583 )
      Sony's hardware hasn't been top notch since someone first uttered the name "Vaio"...

      Seriously, their reputation for good hardware has plummetted in the last ten years too.
      • by BCW2 ( 168187 )
        You got that right! Pick up a new Vaio laptop. They are so flimsy you should be careful not to twist in any direction or you will break something. I think anyone with normal strength could snap one in half on a kitchen counter by just pushing (holt both ends, put center of laptop against corner in middle). Add to that the laser problem on the first gen PS2, the CD rootkit, the general lack of quality of all stereo components, it's a wonder they have any customers left. Sony reminds me of what "Made in Japan
      • I don't know about the rest of their hardware, but I do know the DSC-H1 is an excellent camera. The quality of the photos from this camera are excellent and I haven't even had a nickle's worth of trouble with this camera. It only uses two AA batteries and it includes a AA NiMH charger. Although it uses a memorystick pro, having a Sony brand MS and/or MS reader isn't required. I do have to agree that the battery problem puts Sony into an even worse position. They need to find out immediately what the he
  • No worries (Score:5, Funny)

    by eln ( 21727 ) * on Friday August 25, 2006 @11:49AM (#15978852)
    After having read all of the coverage here on Slashdot, I'm confident Sony will make this up with the overwhelming future success of the PS3.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Red Flayer ( 890720 )

      After having read all of the coverage here on Slashdot, I'm confident Sony will make this up with the overwhelming future success of the PS3.

      I know your post was a tongue-in-cheek, but it brings up an interesting (in my mind) point about Sony's profitability in re: the PS3:

      Since Sony will be losing cash with each PS3 produced and sold (in the US, not sure about Japan or the UK or Europe)... wouldn't lagging demand and lower production of the PS3 be beneficial to their short-term interests? At what sales v

  • Legit question, since I've never taken part in a laptop Battery recall of any kind. When you return a recalled laptop battery, how long do you have to wait to get a new battery? Does that mean you now have a non-portable laptop until they provide you with the new battery? Does this mean I would have to go out and by a new / backup battery until I receive the new one? How does that all work? Thanks in advance.
    • I just finished applying for Apple's recall. You give them your serial numbers and shipping address. They mail you a new battery. Once it arrives you swap batteries and ship back the old one in the same package with the shipping label they provide.

      Technically you're never without your battery. But they suggest you leave out your old battery permanantly and use the laptop with the power cord attached. I'll keep using my battery while I wait for the new one. It doesn't get very hot and I haven't had any
  • Does Dell and Apple pay for this or Sony?
  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) *

    Did Sony supply Apple with their crappy batteries, too?

    strongbad says, "hey, my laptop asplode!"

  • by FrostyCoolSlug ( 766239 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @12:41PM (#15979334)
    Well, i personally havn't had any problems with the sony battery in my laptdjsaDASDJAShd NO CARRIER
  • If Sony did a recall for exploding PS3's before they shipped them out.
  • by BCW2 ( 168187 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @01:04PM (#15979521) Journal
    If Sony keeps stepping on their dicks with golf shoes, pretty soon they won't be able to screw their customers anymore.
  • I recall a blow I once delt to Sony's recovery as well.
  • Seriously. Who the hell looks at a large corporate stock in a one month timeframe?? You, sirs, are not stock analysts.
    • It's not about stock analysis. It's about Sony's plethora of recent screw-ups finally catching up to them on the Street. It's about recognizing that there is now the perception in the financial world that things aren't quite right in the house of Sony.
  • by Markvs ( 17298 ) on Friday August 25, 2006 @01:21PM (#15979654) Journal
    Sony also made the recalled Mac batteries... 111724500 [] 081604956 []

    Affected ranges of serial number prefixes are as follows:

    12-inch iBook G4, battery model: A1061

    ZZ338 through ZZ427
    3K429 through 3K611
    6C510 through 6C626
    12-inch PowerBook G4, battery model: A1079

    ZZ411 through ZZ427
    3K428 through 3K611
    15-inch PowerBook G4, battery models: A1078 and A1148

    3K425 through 3K601
    6N530 through 6N551

    To see if your PowerBook or iBook is affected, visit xchange/ [].
  • Come on we all know that just like pokemon or chimpokomon in that south park episode, all batteries will explode at a predetermined time; laying waste to all of the barbarian's oversided..err, laps. The Japanese government is furious it's plan may be exposed, and is giving Sony a backhanded slap to the incompetent fool's face.

  • Remember last year how we all laughed and teased the guy whose private parts were burned because he did not have any padding between his lap and his laptop? Did we by chance laugh when we should have been listening and asking questions? Sometimes frivolous complaints are not so frivolous.
  • Sony stock holders should sell now before that abortion of a console, the PS3, launches and fails.
  • doin' the ol' seppuka belly-slash in the near future?

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