Dell Says Sony Entirely to Blame for Incendiary Computers

Although Sony had suggested otherwise, Dell Inc. chairman Michael Dell says the configuration and construction of his company’s notebook personal computers were not contributing factors to the spate of battery-related fires that triggered a massive recall of approximately 4.1 million batteries.

At the company’s Technology Day in New York Tuesday, Dell (the man after whom the eponymous company is named) was adamant that Sony, by manufacturing batteries contaminated with incompatible microscopic metal particles, was entirely to blame for the battery-related computer fireworks.

Said Dell:

We know exactly why there was a problem. Sony had contaminated its cells in the manufacturing process. . . . The batteries were contaminated and were no good no matter what you did with them. We know the batteries, under rare circumstances, catch fire, (which is why we recalled them).

To public contradict Sony on such a sensitive issue, realizing that an episode of lengthy recrimination could be injurious to both companies, Dell must be supremely confident of the accuracy of his position. That Apple has experienced similar problems would seem to support Dell’s assertion, though Sony has cited other vendors that use its battery-cell technology and have averted the flaming-computer syndrome.

Now we’ll have to see whether Sony issues a rejoinder, which I doubt will happen, or whether this issue finally recedes from the headlines. Dell did handle the recall forthrightly, and it deserves credit for doing so.

The company must keep doing the right thing, however, to burnish a reputation that was tarnished severely by product-quality issues and chronically inadequate customer service.

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