iPod Batteries May be in Short Supply Following Quake in Japan
The Wall Street Journal
is reporting that Apple may be facing a shortage of lithium polymer batteries that are used in its iPod line of music players. The bottleneck appears to be coming from a relatively obscure Japanese chemical maker that was forced to shutdown following the recent disaster in Japan.
According to the Wall Street Journal, “Kureha, which has a 70% share of the global market for a crucial polymer used in lithium-ion batteries, had to shut its factory in Iwaki—near the quake's epicenter—after the March 11 disaster struck. It is the only place where Kureha makes this particular polymer.”
Following the disaster, the company now plans on moving much of its production overseas. The factory appears to have survived the quake relatively undamaged, however, the nearby port wasn't so lucky. Unfortunately, it was severely damaged. Until the port is up and running again, the plant cannot receive the raw materials necessary to continue production of this crucial polymer. Small companies such as this may not be well known outside of Japan, but they provide essential components for many types of high end products. Until production resumes, Apple may be forced to find another source for iPod batteries or delay production altogether.
Part of the reason that lithium polymer batteries are so attractive to electronics manufactures is because of the fact that they are so pliable. Because of this, batteries can be manufactured to fit into smaller, more usual spaces then with more traditional rigid types of batteries. The shortage of lithium polymer batteries will most likely affect other manufacturers as well as Apple. Any manufacturer currently looking to use lithium polymer batteries in their electronic devices may have to look elsewhere until production is up and running at full capacity again. Unfortunately, because the disaster in Japan was so widespread, there is no way of knowing when production will resume. If you're in the market for an iPod, you may want to buy one sooner rather than later.
Source: The Wall Street Journal