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Notebook battery famine set to continue

Simplo says supply can't keep up with demand

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The world’s largest laptop battery manufacturer has warned that a global shortage of power cells will last three months longer than expected.

Simplo Technology Co said makers are failing to increase output fast enough to meet demand.

The Taiwan-based firm’s chief financial wonk, Jackie Ding, told Bloomberg yesterday that laptop battery supply may hit its targets in the second quarter of 2009. Simplo had previously expected the shortage to end by the first quarter of next year.

In May contract laptop PC maker Compal Electronics Inc was forced to scale back its Q2 shipment growth forecast, blaming a shortage of batteries.

Earlier this year major computer vendors including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, grumbled about the kink in the supply chain, which was caused in part by a fire on 3 March at South Korea's LG Chem factory, where some laptop batteries are manufactured.

The industry has repeatedly warned that a worldwide shortage of laptop batteries would impact prices, shipments and sales.

Simplo chairman Sung Fu-hsang said at an investor conference in May that although the LG Chem blaze had put a dent in supplies, he expected to see the supply of lithium-ion return to a normal level in Q3, giving battery makers a much needed leg-up to significantly increase production.

Now Simplo, which late last month admitted that supply fell short of demand by 10 per cent in the second quarter, has been forced to adjust its outlook regarding the ongoing shortage. ®

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