Dell, Sony First Knew of Battery Problems in Oct. 2005

Dell and Sony first discussed problems with Lithium Ion laptop batteries in October 2005, a Sony spokesman admitted. The companies then talked again this past February, according to a Macworld UK article. Sony wound up making changes to its manufacturing process, but it didnit issue a recall because it didnit think there was a danger, the spokesman explained.

A Dell spokeswoman wouldnit comment on the discussions but said that Dell is "confident that the manufacturing process at Sony has been changed to address this issue. Now our focus is erring on the side of caution to ensure no more incidents occur."

Dan Doughty, manager of the Advanced Power Sources Research and Development Department at Sandia National Laboratory, explained the manufacturing process that goes into creating the batteries and noted that the drive to pack more power into them increases the risk of catastrophic failures, such as the ones that have been documented recently. In the past, short circuits in Lithium Ion batteries typically produced what he called "a graceful failure" that wasnit life-threatening.

Fujitsu, Toshiba, and Hewlett-Packard use Sonyis batteries in their laptops, but theyive said that those batteries are different from the ones used by Dell, so they have no plans to recall them. Apple uses some of Sonyis batteries, but itis unknown if the recent MacBook Pro battery recall is related to the current issue.