Sony fingered for fires, says Dell (and August's PUP)

Here we go again, it's IT Blogwatch, in which we make no apology for covering the latest in the exploding Dell laptop saga -- Dell is blaming Sony's batteries. Not to mention August's Pop-up Potpourri...

Robert Mullins gives us the gory details:

Computer maker Dell Inc. will recall 4.1 million laptop computer batteries because of a potential fire hazard, the company announced Monday. The lithium-ion batteries being recalled are installed in 4.1 million laptops sold between April 2004 and July 18 of this year ... Dell reported six instances in which laptops overheated and caused fires since last December, although no one was injured in any of the incidents.
Jerri Ledford's got a hot lap:

My last three computers have been Dells, and the only complaint I can come up with is the fact that my Dell laptop is hot, hot, HOT. And I don't mean hot in the best sense of the word either. Turns out, it could be a battery issue. I say it could be because my current laptop isn't among the laptops that are being recalled by the company due to faulty batteries. Of course, I still think that my battery falls among those that are faulty.
Alan Smithee reminds us why this is important:

Dell has received negative publicity lately about notebook batteries bursting into flames, with one especially high-profile and photographically-documented incident happening in Japan (see photo above). Making matters worse is a recent finding by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission, citing 339 times when lithium and lithium-ion batteries either overheated, emitted smoke or exploded since 2003.

Travis Hudson waxes colorfully:

According to Dell, 18-percent of the machines sold during the time period have faulty batteries that can overheat and possibly explode into a fiery ka-bloom.

Ryan Block's mind boggles on both cylinders:

We're talking 4.1 million units ... an absolutely mind boggling number compared to their last recall ... The kicker here is the batteries were actually contracted out to Sony for manufacture, meaning of course that anyone else using Sony-built batteries, like, say Sony (and Apple, should we be looking your way?) may also have their units taken back ... we're glad they're finally taking care of business before someone actually gets hurt.

Ed Bott does the math:

If each replacement battery costs about $100, when you figure in the cost of shipping both ways, that’s $400 million. Damn, that’s gotta hurt.

BL Ochman scratches her head:

As I write this, there is not ONE WORD on the Dell blog about the recall. The company proves, yet again, that it has zero understanding of social media and its impact on reputation and sales.

But Dwight Silverman has a clue why:

Dell wasn't originally planning to announce the recall for another day or so, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission broke the embargo on the news, forcing it to go public early. It's the largest computer-related product recall in history, according to the commission.

Dell's Alex Gruzen writes:

On behalf of Dell, I’d like to apologize to all affected customers. Above all else, your safety is important to us. We also understand that the work that you do on your notebook is invaluable to you, and we’re committed to getting replacement batteries shipped out to you as quickly as we can. To determine if your laptop battery is part of this recall, you can go here.

Sarah Gilbert links this with recent airport security news:

How many reports of overheating lithium laptop batteries must we hear before airport security agents start cracking down on my Dell Inspiron or your Apple MacBook? Sure, the damage intended by terrorists from a seemingly innocuous-looking bottle of liquid would be terrible. But today's reports of overheating -- and in some cases, spontaneously combusting -- laptop batteries brought the considerable specter of an exploding laptop at 30,000 feet ... The New York Times article brought up a fire in the overhead bin of a Lufthansa jet while on the runway in Chicago (no one has confirmed whether or not this battery was housed in a Dell laptop).

Buffer overflow:

Around the Net

Around Computerworld

And finally... August's Pop-up Potpourri

Richi Jennings is an independent technology and marketing consultant, specializing in email, blogging, Linux, and computer security. A 20 year, cross-functional IT veteran, he is also an analyst at Ferris Research. Contact Richi at
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