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Sony recalls 3.5m notebook batteries

Electronics giant Sony is recalling around 3.5 million notebook batteries worldwide as part of the global replacement programme for its defective lithium-ion battery packs.

Carried out in conjunction with the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), the announcement on October 23 included the recall of batteries already initiated by Fujitsu and Toshiba, as well as an increase in the number of Sony packs being pulled and the addition of Gateway to the list of affected notebook vendors.

The announcement did not include batteries previously recalled by Dell, Apple or Lenovo — which, combined, come to around 6.5 million — and put the total number of Sony packs affected worldwide at almost 10 million.

The decision by the CPSC and Sony to issue the recall follows 16 reports in the US of the batteries overheating and in some cases causing property damage and minor burns to the users.

However the CPSC stated there had been no incidents involving packs sold by the notebook manufacturers included in this latest announcement.

“We are confident that our voluntary global battery replacement programme will address any remaining concerns or needs of our customers,” Yutaka Nakagawa, executive deputy president at Sony, said in a statement.

As a result of the recall of its notebook batteries, and problems within its gaming division, Sony has slashed its profits outlook by over half.

The vendor cut operating income for its current fiscal year by 62% and net profit by 38% on October 19, missing market expectations by some way.

Sony said it had set aside approximately US$429.1million for costs it expected to incur in relation to the recall and now estimated operating profits for its fiscal year ending March 31, 2007, to be US$421million —down from the US$1.1 billion it forecast in July.

Analysts had been expecting profits of around US$1.35 billion.

Despite the cut in profits, Sony said it did not anticipate any change in sales for its current financial year, which stand at US$69.3 billion.

Things could still get worse for Sony.

HP has yet to recall any of its Sony-made batteries and despite issuing a joint statement with the Japanese firm extolling the safety of them, speculation still mounts that HP will also join the growing number of vendors pulling Sony’s batteries from the market.

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