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Batteries/Consumer/CES 2005 060525
From the 2005 Consumer Electronics Show...
CES- Baubles, Bangles and Batteries
by Shirley Georgi

With batteries powering much of the electronic baubles and bangles   at CES (the Consumer electronics Show), glamour, glitz and gadgetry  surrounded  the celebratory theme to announce a record $113.5 billion  of revenues for shipments in consumer electronics in 2004, an 11 percent gain over 2003.  Highlighting the dazzling parade were  plasma and liquid-crystal displays (LCDs), advertising products and promoting the latest high-definition (HD)    screens in TVs for consumers to purchase.  Astounding sales of Apple Computer’s iPod have  elevated the volume of MP3 players to a shattering level of volumes just under 7 million,  with revenues  breaking the billion dollar barrier to a record of $1.2 billion  for 2004.  In addition, camera phones, digital cameras and portable computers are a being promoted as a “MUST” for every consumer.

Microsoft Excel ChartThe greatest gain among the MP3 Phenomenon (Boombox MP3, In-dash  CD/MP3, Portable CD/MP3, Flash/HDD MP3) has been in the portable category.  (Data is from the Consumer Electronics Association, Jan. 2005.)  +

BD editorial note:               Hype or  Reality

Perhaps the baubles and bangles and glamour of gadgetry at CES can overshadow the reality and realization of  how reliability is a key factor that needs to be addressed.  Perhaps this can be no better illustrated than in the pre-keynote address by Bill Gates.  In giving the audience a taste of the “digital lifestyle” that is purported Adobe Photoshop Imageto be on our doorsteps, glitches in the presentation demonstrations occurred that made the stark reality of seamless connectivity a “not ready for prime time” technology.  In the presentation to introduce  Microsoft’s  new arrangements with  TiVo and  Bell South, the Nikon digital picture technology froze when used with Microsoft software.  Two other glitches occurred when Microsoft’s product manager had problems demonstrating a Microsoft video game and another Microsoft representative could not get on  the Internet using a Tablet PC. Batteries are usually blamed for providing only a short life span for usage, but in this case, software and hardware connectivity displayed no life span at all.

Of course, comedy reigned during the presentation, as Conan O’brien took the lead role as the show’s Late Night host.  With a tongue-in-cheek sardonic tone, he said  when  a crash occurred,  “Who is in charge of Microsoft, anyway?” The audience laughed.  Bill Gates, took the role as Conan’s  guest, but  Conan “stole the show”  with pointed questions  and comments.   The audience didn’t seem to mind the crashes as they were well entertained; most editors and analysts enjoying the show appeared to be in their 30s and 40s.

In retrospect, BD’s  “senior” editor would not have spent two hours in line waiting to hear Bill Gates’ keynote, if the format had been known before hand. On the other hand, our young staffer thought it was great, highlighting the genration gap in modern gimmicks. It was definitely a show, featuring Conan O’brien.  Information on Microsft’s direction and new technology seemed to be only a tool for Conan’s attempts to humor the audience. (Photo is courtesy of Microsoft.) +

TV - living in a flat world

Although Christopher Columbus verified that the world was round over 500 years ago, CEA (the Consumers’ Electronic Association) is stating that all of us are “Living in a Flat World.”  In other words, “Thin is In!”  Plasmas and LCDs are both found in this slim configuration. In fact, to dazzle the attendees, Samsung displayed the world’s largest plasma television, a 102-inch prototype.  Last year, U.S. consumers spent $10.7 billion on high-tech digital televisions and that number is expected to increase to $19.2 billion this year, according to CEA.   About 1/3 of the revenues come from flat panel shipments in 2004 and that figure should increase to 40 percent in 2005.

But in terms of dollars per unit, prices have dropped sharply.  The prices of the new-tech  TVs are almost half of what they were at the beginning 2003.  For example Sean Wargo, director of industry analysis at CEA said that a 37-inch liquid- crystal display TV cost $7,000 in early 2003 and is now selling for $1,299.  Mr. Wargo anticipates that prices for liquid-crystal  displays will fall 40 percent this year.  Although plasma TVs are more expensive, they have also dropped from $4,649 in 2003 to $2,485 this year.  

Microsoft Excel ChartBy 2005, cameras with resolution above 4 megapixels will account for 43 percent of total digital camera shipments.  By 2006, 4-plus megapixel cameras are predicted to grow to 58 percent.  (The source for data is CEA Market Research.) +

But along with  digital innovation in  television, new ancillary portable devices are being created and that means more battery powered products.  For example, Pavio has a portable digital theater which has 30 gigabytes of storage capability, TV/Video recorder, MP3 music player, voice recorder, Jpeg picture viewer and  data storage/transfer using USB (Universal Serial Bus).  All displays are on a bright 3.5” LCD screen and have a dock station and TV tuner.  TV has become portable; TV can be watched anytime and anywhere.  None of this would be possible, except for high tech battery management and  power.

MP3 - Doubling the Volume in one year

With only four percent market penetration in 2000, the figure has grown to 13 percent penetration for 2004 and is expected to gain another two percent in 2005. But the greatest gain is in dollar sales. “MP3 portables exceeded headphone-CD sales for the first time in 2004, attracting still more newcomers into the market and prompting major portable audio suppliers here to step up their MP3 focus,” stated Joseph Palenchar. (“MP3 Tops Headphone CD In Sales, Features,” Twice, CEA, 01/06/05, p.7)  From a figure of $424 million in sales in 2003, the dollars figure rose to $1,204 in 2004.  Apple Computer has held the top spot with their iPOD (and their new  mini).  As of September 2004, Apple had shipped more than 6 million iPODs. (Data is from “Autosound Business Welcomes iPod, MP3 In Its 2005 Offerings” by Amy Gilroy, Twice, CEA Research,  01/06/05, p.12.)  Other companies see a pot of gold at the end of this rainbow, too.  Competing with the iPOD mini is the Zen Micro which   has five gigabytes of storage and comes with a removable battery. Sony, which still has the lead in selling the highest dollar amount of all portable audio electronics, has a network walkman, but MP3s must be reformatted to Sony’s unique music standard to play them; however, the special feature of this unit is the 30-hour long-lasting battery. Samsung has HDD music portables with picture viewing.

Digital cameras - a plethora of  portable, picturesque panoramas  

Microsoft Excel ChartThe figures for 2004 are estimates and the figures for 2005 are projections.
CEA states that      all the innovation for new phone multifunctionality and features have revenues for 2004 projected to grow 15 percent.  However, price points on the new technologies continue to decline.  In 2000, the average unit price for a phone was $171.00, but by 2004, the estimated average declined to  $132.00 and will drop by $5.00 in  2005, which has a forecast of only $127.00.  (Data is from “U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales & Forecasts 2000 - 2005,” CEA Research, 01/05) +

According to CEA research, digital camera shipments are expected to show figures for 2004 at 17.6 million units and $4.5 billion in revenues. But the view of the 2005 horizon shows that 20 million units will be shipped this year with a whopping $5 billion in revenue.  Consumers are upgrading to one or two megapixel cameras while others are purchasing a unit for the first time, thus bringing the ownership rates to over the 50 percent peak to mainstream America.

Microsoft Excel ChartThe above data includes notebooks and desktops sold through consumer channels. The units for 2004 are estimated and the units listed  for 2005 are a projection.  CEA does not separate “mobile” units from desktops.  The average price of a computer in 2000 was $1,000 but by 2005, the projected average price is down to $843.  

Although prices in “basic” models  are coming down, some of the newer slim and higher end portable computers will continue to retail over $1,000.00 For example, the slim portable  Apple iMac G5 pricing is at $1,300.  The model has a full functioning computer with a 1.6 GHz chip.  The deluxe Toshiba Qosmio E15-AV101 laptop has a Wi-Fi connection and also comes with Bluetooth which enable it to be connected to cell phones and wireless keyboards.  This model also has a TV tuner and  has capabilities to function as a home theater and  digital video recorder.  Pricing for this Toshiba model will be $2,700.00. (Data for the graph is from “U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales & Forecasts 2000 - 2005,” CEA Research, 01/05.)  +

New cameras --
Kodak is adding Wi-Fi features to its EasyShare.  IDC research states that Kodak will be within 10,000 units of displacing long-reigning Sony at the top of the category in the third quarter. This camera is definitely moving from “point and shoot” to “point and share.”   
BenQ is introducing their DC-E41 model which offers MP3 playback and a touch screen LCD which lets users write handwritten  notes to an image.  
Casio is introducing its 6-megapixel QV-R62, has a 2-inch LCD screen with a start-up time of one second and a shutter release of .01 second.  This camera’s battery can take 280 full-resolution photos on one charge.  
Olympus is announcing thee models in its PicBridge-enabled line; in its least expensive model (D-425) retailing at $149.95, the camera will have 4-megapixels with  fixed focal-length and 10 shooting modes.   
Pentax’s new 5--megapixel OptoWP can be used three feet under water with out any additional underwater housings.  

Cellular phones -  
               multifunctional portables for a wireless nation

Cellular phones are no longer a monofunctional unit.  Today‘s phones come with megapixel digital  cameras, MP3 players PDAs, Internet connections and embedded and downloadable games. As Theano Nikitias says in an article entitled “Wireless Nation!,” “The marriage of digital imaging with this market is changing the way your customers are communicating.”  (“Wireless Nation,” Picture Business, North American Publishing Co., 12/04)  

Perhaps the largest element for penetration in terms of new sales comes from camera-enabled phones.  John Mulder, Product Manager for Sony Ericsson notes that the company’s  research indicates that about 60% of the phones sold at the end of 2004 had VGA cameras.  The prices have come down remarkably on these phones so consumers are buying them.  Although the quality of the photos with VGA technology is not in the “high  resolution” range, individuals like them for capturing the special moment, convenience and ease of  hardcopying.    However, photos  having two- and three-megapixel range have been launched during the later part of 2004.  But five megapixels phone are coming to the North American market.  Samsung has already launched such a phone in Korea.  How megapixel camera phones will impact the U.S. market is not yet known. However, John Mudler does not think they will not replace the more expensive digital cameras which will have far more capabilities in photography.

InfoTrends has predicted that there would be 150,000,000 camera phones sold in 2004 in the global market and that approximately 290 billion images would be captured.  (“2004 Worldwide Camera Phone and Photo Messaging Forecast,”  InfoTrends Research Group , 03/04).  Capturing “the immediate or the moment” and sharing images seems to be very popular with the consumer, and if InfoTrends is correct in its research, 656 million camera phones will be purchased by consumers in 2008.  

The cellular industry is reinventing itself with new design, color screens and cameras.  According to Gartner research, unit growth was about 12.5 percent for 2004 and is expected to be about 10 percent for 2005.  Jon Maron, director of marketing communications of LG Mobile Phones  said, “Ten years from now, the mobile phone will be the centerpiece of the networked home, controlling entertainment, security, purchases and more.”   

Computers - “On the Go!”

Microsoft Excel ChartCEA’s Market Research Department says that sales should grow 11.6% between 2004 and 2005.   Key words mentioned in discussing growth are digital, wireless and  portability - great news for the battery business. Note that the figure for 2004 is an estimate and for years 2005 and beyond, the sales are being projected. (Data  is from “U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales & Forecasts,” The Consumer Electronics Association, January 2005.) +

Although personal desktop computers had  retail point-of-sales of $4,468,210,746.00, personal notebook computer totals topped that  amount  with retail point-of-sales of $5,062,172,196  (Data is provided at CES by NDP Group of Port Washington, N.Y. and includes sales from January 2004 through September 2004.)  The top five brands, with 92.7 percent of the market were: Toshiba, Hewlett Packard, Compaq, Sony and Apple.  Laptop, notebook and tablet computers are quickly becoming  the mainstay of the consumer “On the Go!” About 70 percent of U.S. households now own  personal computers.  

The personal computer notebook is becoming a core for wireless innovation.  Intel’s CEO, Craig Barrett, said in his keynote address to CES attendees, “The combination of entertainment, gaming and computing on all-in-one mobile devices with great battery life and sleek, lightweight designs will transform the notebook PC into an essential consumer lifestyle accessory.  

What’s next?

With 2,400 exhibitors at the January  2005 Consumer Electronics Show, CES is celebrating a very profitable year in 2004.  Many  of the products are portables selling for under $1,000, prices the consumer finds  acceptable to buy the latest electronic gadgets.   “Digital Lifestyles” is a  key underlying the offerings which include  universal remote controls, hand-held computers, digital camcorders, MP3 players  as well as cell phones with  cameras, digital music, video, games, television and Internet connectivity.

While celebrating an 11 percent rise in sales of consumer electronics between 2003 and 1004, CEA is proud to announce that this if the first year the CE industry crossed over the $100 billion mark in its 100 + year history.  And for 2005, CEA is predicting another 11 percent rise, with a sales figure projected to total  $125.7 billion.

 B for Batteries

Key words (mobility, portability and wireless) all encompass one major concept - battery power.  Because the power of batteries is so vital , BD will devote a special article to batteries for  consumer electronics so look in the next issue for Part II, Batteries, Baubles and Bangles at CES.

CES - Baubles, Bangles and Batteries -Part II
by Shirley Georgi

Adobe Photoshop ImageAt CES (Consumers Electronics Show), Pansonic had a miniature red car which was powered by its new  Oxyride Extreme Power BatteriesTM .  The batteries were said to power this 40-pound car and its 100 pound driver for about 3/4 of a mile. More details are found in the following article on CES. (Photo is couresty of Panasonic.) +

Consumers love their new wireless world.  They want to be connected “24-7,” anytime and anywhere.  Anxiety seems to reign when being “plugged-in” is not possible.  Because of technological improvements  and fashionable styling of new electronic    “baubles and bangles” from cell phones and   PDAs to digital cameras and MP3 players, U.S. households now operate 24 battery-driven devices.  Less than 20 years ago, the average household had only seven,  with each device having much less power and functionality.

It is the consumer’s desire for  constant connectivity and personal portability in communications which combine to create  the underlying theme at the Consumer Electronics Show.  Although  the gadgetry  catches the eye of the consumer, it is the power source -the battery- which is at the heart of creating the functionality of the elaborate electronic equipment (i.e., advanced cell phones, laptop  computers, digital cameras and surround sound MP3 players)   and thus allows the consumer to enjoy a mobile and wireless world.  

Microsoft Excel ChartThe figure for 2004 is a best estimate and the figure for 2005 is a projection.  Factory sales only include those sales for consumer usage.  

When combined sales of accessories (i.e., chargers, adaptors, etc.)  and batteries are totaled, sales for 2004 came in at $7.51 billion, which is up 6.7 percent from 2003.  CEA (Consumers Electronic Association) is forecasting a rise of 10.7 percent this year to $8.32 billion.

Information and data are from “U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales & Forecasts 2000-2005” by CEA Market Research, Jan. 2005. +  

Because the battery is so vital to the industry, CEA (Consumer Electronic Association) keeps track of factory sales of batteries  for consumer usage.  Although rechargeables (secondary batteries) are utilized in many of consumer devices, volumes are not yet at a point where CEA tracks the data.   But, in 2003, A.C. Neilson  reported on sales of both primary and secondary batteries. Secondary battery sales totaled  11.6 million (approximately, 2 percent of the market)  in contrast to 604 million primary cells (98 percent).

PRIMARY BATTERIES - A commodity with brand names

Primary batteries such as low-cost   Carbon/zinc and the more expensive  but longer-lasting Alkaline are primary power sources.  These batteries can be tossed when they no longer function.  By their very nature, they are considered a commodity and those distributors and  vendors who sell  them need very little technical knowledge about batteries. These batteries can be sold to retailers along with other products such as razors and toothbrushes.

Just as the Detroit auto world highlights its three  automaker giants, the battery industry also has its Big Three in  U.S. primary consumer heavyweights - Duracell, Energizer and Rayovac.

Price and volume become the key enhancements in making a sale.  This was perhaps the  great motivator for Gillette to  team with P&G (Proctor & Gamble) to become the world’s largest consumer products enterprise.  The global mass marketing of  the new megacompany should be able to offer  great price and volume packages to large retailers such as Wal-Mart.

But companies such as Fuji Novel Batteries, another vendor at CES, are looking for private label partnership opportunities.  The North American market for disposable Alkaline batteries is approaching $4 billion annually.  Private label batteries now comprise over 10% of the overall disposable Alkaline battery market which   is one of the fastest growing segments within the private label market.  

Vice-president Russ Bongiorno of Fuji Novel Batteries explains why he sees private labeling as a positive direction for its marketing of Alkaline batteries.  “The private label battery category is exploding across the full spectrum of mass market retailers.  With Fuji Novel, retailers have the opportunity to offer private label batteries as part of their individualized marketing strategy, enabling them to claim higher gross profit margins and profits at competitive retail price points as they gain trademark equity and reduce capital outlays.... As consumers’ brand loyalties migrate from product loyalty to destination loyalty, retailers like Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid, and Best Buy are commanding stronger and stronger loyalty.  With this migration comes an increased consumer willingness to choose among several different brands - creating significant inroads for well-positioned private label brands.”   An essential ingredient of a successful private label program is in reassuring both the retailer and the consumer that the quality of the product will equal or exceed the national brand choice.    In addition, Mr. Bongiorno notes that for the most popular Alkalines (the four-pack AA and AAA, one pack 9-Volt and two-pack C and D), prices for private labeled batteries can be offered from 20% to 30% off the retail for leading national brands.  Vying for retail space between name and private labels brands is and will continue to be  challenging in a hypercompetetive market.    

Microsoft Excel ChartThe rise in dollar volume  is easily understood when growth in the number of battery-driven devices in each consumer’s home has risen dramatically In 1987, the average household had seven battery-driven devices; today, the average household has twenty-four and the numbers are increasing.

Data for chart is from the Freedonia Group’s study on the battery market. See +  

Lithium - Longer lasting, more expensive but convenient

But as as a reader scanned the Day One edition of the CES Daily, Duracell was not promoting its  Alkaline or Carbon/zinc line;   the company placed the focus on their CP-1 primary  lithium battery (lithium-manganese dioxide) and stressed the slim prismatic design to fit in any and all devices from MP3 players to digital cameras and even medical products. Its rated capacity of 2300 mAh allows the battery to last longer than any Alkaline.  Prices vary for this lithium battery, but at CES, the suggested retail price was $9.99.  Surveys in consumer research in North America show that approximately 50 percent of the people     take less than 250 pictures a year with their digital cameras.  (Mail Diary Panel, RPI, Q4/02) Duracell states that this battery should provide those users with up to a full year of power.

Although Energizer’s visual advertising at CES seemed to be on a smaller scale than Duracell’s, the company did highlight their e2 Lithium AA batteries. Energizer states that  both their AA and AAA lithium cells are the only batteries of this description on the market.  These batteries are said to have a service life    seven times longer than Alkaline; this translates to 600 pictures when using a e2 compared to 80 pictures when using an Alkaline.    

Energizer sees the increasing battery demand for high-drain devices and is more than doubling its battery manufacturing in St. Albans, Vermont.

The new kid (battery) on the block -
     Panasonic’s Oxyride Extreme Power BatteryTM

The only known new  battery unveiled at  CES was Panasonic’s Oxyride Extreme PowerTM battery.  The battery was designed for high drain devices with power exceeding   the  Alkaline and yet will sell for significantly less than  the more powerful  Lithium primary.  

In an independent study, the new AA-size Oxyride cells lasted twice as long as Alkaline cells, thus doubling  the amount of pictures and more rapid flash recovery time in digital cameras.  In other high-drain digital and electronic devices such as MP3 players, the batteries averaged 1.5 times more power than Panasonic’s Alkaline cells.

Adobe Photoshop ImageThe newly adopted cathode materials (Oxy Nickel Hydroxide and newly developed manganese dioxide and graphite) allow an increase in the quantity of  the pouring amount inside the battery and a controlled mixing ratio, leading to higher Voltage and current.  (Illustration is courtesy of Panasonic.) +

Using a Canon PowerShot A400 digital camera, Rex Farrance of PCWorld, discussed a small study that was conduced by his group where Oxyride AA batteries were  compared with Rayovac’s  1800-mAh Nickel-metal hydride rechargeables and with Duracell’s Ultra Alkalines.  The results showed that the Oxyrides powered 290 shots, the Duracell Alkalines 131 and the Nickel-metal hydrides 300.  (“New Batteries: Twice the Life:” by Rex Farrrance, PC World magazine, 04/2005)  

Adobe Photoshop ImagePanasonic’s new vacuum pouring technology enables the quantity of electrolyte in the battery to be increased, resulting in higher durability.   (Illustration is courtesty of Panasonic.) +

The Oxyride Extreme Power battery was developed with a technology based on a combination of newly developed materials and an advanced manufacturing process.  (See illustrations 1 and 2.) A suggested retail price for a 4-pack AA or AAA size is $3.99.  These cell packs should be available in the U.S. in the spring of 2005.

SECONDARY  BATTERIES -Rechargeables gaining momentum

Although primaries tout their volumes, rechargeables tout their ability to create optimal performance, cost advantage and environmental friendliness. Owners of digital cameras and other high drain devices  are beginning to see the advantages of using rechargeables.

In terms of growth for rechargeables, Frost & Sullivan reported that the global rechargeable battery  market for mobile IT and communication devices would grow from $2.17 billion in 2002 to $4.67 billion by 2009.  (See This is more than doubling revenues while individual price units have decreased.  

Driving this secondary battery market are the  rechargeables such as Nickel-metal hydride and Lithium-ion.  Nickel-metal hydride  AA and  AAA batteries  are the leaders in consumer sales for   purchases of batteries for high-drain devices. In an article entitled “Batteries are limiting factor,” Wayne Thompson states that Nickel-metal hydride batteries are the fastest growing segment, with an estimated 20 percent growth rate. (Article in, 10/29/04)  However, Lithium-ion, with its new slim form factor, has higher energy density and reigns supreme in cell phones and PDAs and many computers and is also beginning to penetrate the digital camera market.  R.T.S.’s Vice president of sales and marketing Mark Tahmin states that in conversation with their battery manufacturer, Hahnel Industries of Ireland, he was told that  “there is a Hahnel  Lithium-ion rechargeable battery for almost every popular digital camera and camcorder.”   More bang (clicks for the consumer) for the buck ($ for each battery)!

Microsoft Excel ChartDemand for power supplies used in portable products in the U.S. is projected to increase 6.1 percent annually to $10.3 billion in 2008, an acceleration from the 1998 to 2003 performance.  Among the major established products, secondary (rechargeable) batteries hold the best prospects going forward,  given their importance in growth markets such as high-end information technology devices and increasing power requirements of many of these devices.

Maintaining established trends, portable solar cells will remain a niche product, finding applications in certain OEM devices such as calculators and watches where their high design and fabrication costs are offset by extended longevity.  

Although achieving initial commercialization by the middle of the decade, portable and micro fuel cells are not expected to make a major impact on the portable power supply market until later in the decade and beyond, when costs will become more competitive and product design and regulatory issues will be resolved.  Once these hurdles are overcome, fuel cells are expected to experience rapid acceptance, with demand in portable devices exceeding $1 billion by 2013.  Among the various designs, proton-exchange membrane and its variant direct methanol fuel cells are the most likely to initially find success as power sources for portable electronic devices. (Information and data are courtesy of Freedonia.  “Power Supplies for Portable Products,” dated 11/2004, is available for $4,100.  See +           

One reason for the growth in  rechargeable markets is related to the  advances in charging devices.  Today, Nickel-metal hydride batteries can be recharged in 15 to 20 minutes.  Rechargeables can also hold a charge longer than most of their “one shot” Alkaline primary competitors.  

Chargers for AA and AAA-sized cells are highly advertised at CES.  Panasonic has a packaged charger  which includes an LED screen that monitors the charging, has an alarm when charging is complete,  and contains an adapter for a vehicle - all for a cent less than $45.00.  GE./Sanyo, competing with Panasonic,  states that their charger is the fastest on the market.  Companies such as Targus, a suppliers of cameras, camcorders and accessories,  were quoting  prices of  retail digital camera  chargers between $19.99 and $29.99.  However, for those who select to use the more  expensive  Lithium-ion battery, the universal  charger for that chemistry sells for $59.99 at Targus.  

Building market share

Capturing a greater share of the market may require some companies to ally with others.    Energizer Battery Inc., a subsidiary of Energizer Holdings, Inc., has recently established (Jan. 2005) a multi-year strategic alliance with Mobility Electronics to jointly pursue the electronic device power adapter and battery markets.  The two companies are jointly developing and marketing a family of new power adapter and battery products that combine and leverage each company’s leading patented-technology. At a Consumer Analyst Group of New York conference in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 24th, 2005, Energizer’s President Ward Klein  said, “We’re interested in bolt-on acquisitions...”  Such  efforts  are worth pursing since  CEA projects that combined sales of accessories and batteries will have a projected rise of 10.7 percent this year, thus forecasting a $8.32 billion market.

Adobe Photoshop Image1. In an Absorbent glass-met (AGM) separator, the acid is completely immobilized by the mat, making the battery fully leak-proof. The fast reaction between the acid and the plate material allows for more efficient discharging and faster recharging.
2.  Each of the six 2-Volt cells in the OPTIMA Battery contains a negative and positive lead grid and AGM separator.  These components are locked tightly in place in a compressed cylinder.  Thus, the chemical reaction is not as susceptible to vibration and shedding that kill batteries.
3. OPTIMA’s lead grids are placed in a compressed spiral cell so there is less stress on their structure than in a flat-plate application.  OPTIMA’s  high purity lead grid makes the battery   resistant to internal breakdown and corrosion, especially at higher temperatures, leading to increased cycle life.
4. Each connection between cells in the OPTIMA battery carries the flow of electricity from the negative to positive terminal to create a continuous circuit.  The connections are solid cast pieces, limiting the number of internal welds and adding to the battery’s durability.  
5. A completely sealed case means no acid leaks to damage the vehicle’s electrical components or paint job.  This sealed characteristic makes OPTIMA the only battery in the world that is certified shippable by the U.S. Department of Transportation and International Air Transportation Association, meaning that it can shipped via air transportation.  
(Photos are courtesy of OPTIMA Batteries, Inc., a Johnson Controls, Inc. company, and Stir Marketing LLC.) +

LEAD-ACID -Is it left out of the consumer electronic  market?

No! OPTIMA BATTERIESR,  manufactured by its parent company Johnson Controls, have been promoted at CES for over a decade.  Because of the aftermarket for audio/visual and electronics systems being installed in many of today’s vehicles, there has been a great need for a high performance deep-cycle automotive  battery that can not only provide starting power to the engine but  can also provide long-lasting cycling capabilities for these accessories. Using their patented Spiralcell technology, the batteries are said to have up to two times longer life than traditional Lead-acid batteries and can withstand the high under-hood temperatures in vehicles with high performance engines.  Even under abuse conditions such as driving in rough terrain, the Spiralcell Technology immobilizes the internal components of the battery, enabling the OPTIMA batteries to withstand incredible amounts of vibration. Specific batteries are manufactured for both domestic and import sports cars as well as light trucks and SUVs.  

What’s next for portable power?

More and more features are requiring more and more power.  How power can be conserved and what might be next on the  horizon will be covered in Baubles, Bangles and Battteries - Part III.  Are there magic answers or will consumers have to accept a “plateau” of  portable capabilities?  Read the next installment and make your own determination as what can be realistically be expected.          

CES -Batteries, Baubles and Bangles -Part III
On and Beyond the Horizon for Improved Portable Power
by Shirley Georgi

Today’s portable power devices have an insatiable appetite.  Yet, there have been few advancements in electrochemistry for  wireless devices (portable computers, cell phones)  which will enhance a battery chemistry  to  magically power a device for an infinite amount of time. But progress has been made.


Since its inception in the early 1990s, Lithium-ion has  increased its energy density (a ratio of power to volume)  threefold.  However, it is the wish of the portable electronic industry that the number would be tenfold. So what are the hopes on the horizon and the actualities of today’s commercialized technology? The following are just some examples of recent announcements:

Adobe Photoshop ImageTransmeta Corporation’s EfficeonTM TM8300/TM8600 processor includes enhanced LongRunTM  Dynamic Power Management which enables longer battery life by adjusting operating frequency and Voltage to match the performance requirements of application workloads.    Transmeta was one of the exhibitors at CES (Consumer Electronics Show). The diagram is courtesy of Transmeta. +

Lithium-ion - Sony has just unveiled a “hybrid Lithium-ion” battery which offers 30 percent more power than conventional offerings. Sony says its new rechargeable, the NP-FP71 battery, has quicker charging times and extended battery life at low temperatures.  Key features of the new hybrid Lithium-ion battery include: a tin-based amorphous anode (instead of using the traditional  graphite materials), a multi-stage composite cathode (comprised of atoms of cobalt, nickel and manganese) and enhanced low-temperature characteristics (retention of  95 percent of its capacity at 00 C.).  The recharge time is only 10% longer and the new battery can be 90% charged in approximately  30 minutes.  The battery  will be  initially offered in HandymanR camcorder products.

Lithium- sulfur Technology (Li-STM ) - Sion Power uses lithium combined with sulfur to attain its rechargeable performance.  Battery energy is stored and released when sulfur and lithium atoms are combined or separated.  The unique feature of this technology is its liquid  cathode which provides exceptionally fast transfer of charge.   Sion Power says its technology provides rechargeable cells with a gravimetric energy density of over 300Wh/kg.  The company also states that its cells’ 2.1 Voltage output is ideal for the next generation of electronics expected to operate at 2 Volts or less. Commecialization is expected soon.

In the U.S., much of the research and studies on improvements in Lithium chemistries for portable power have been funded  by the Department of Defense and other government agencies for  military applications.  The results of this work are reported biannually at the Power Sources Conference. At the 2004 conference, there were 157 presentations, about 40%, relating to the advancement of this chemistry.  In this issue and following  issues, Batteries Digest will present summaries of the work presented at the 41st Power Sources Conference, to extend the understanding of the state of Lithium-ion and other Lithium-based chemistries.

Adobe Photoshop ImageIn the spring of 2004, Atakan Ozbek of ABI Research anticipated that small trials of fuel cell-powered laptops would be available by the summer of 2005. Frost and Sullivan expects to see a $126 million market of micro fuel cells  worldwide by 2010.  (Data for chart is from ABI Research.) +
Nanotechnology Altair Nanotechnologies’  research into new electrode materials for Lithium-ion batteries will allow a tripling of battery life and a reduction of charging time from hours to minutes.  “The nanomaterials Altair is developing are the next generation of electrode materials for Lithium-ion batteries and Altair’s research and product development is laying the groundwork for a new generation of ultra high power Lithium-ion batteries,” commented Dr. K,.L Abraham.  He also added, “A key requirement is the ability to recharge the battery very quickly, i.e., in a few minutes.  Altair has found a solution to fast charging with their nano-sized lithium titanium oxide.”  Dr. Vassillis G. Keramidas provides more details in his comments by stating, “Altair’s nanomaterials, which have a virtually zero strain crystal lattice, eliminate the main cause for battery electrode material failure, which limits rechargeable battery life, increasing the number of recharge and discharge cycles from a few hundred to many thousand cycles.”

Note: The Consumers’ Products Association (CEA) says that nanotechnology has the  potential to become one of the most disruptive technologies of tomorrow, not only for batteries but also for  electronics.  Seeing potential in nanotechnology,  companies such as Intel and Motorola have created their own nano research projects.  The U.S. government  increased funding  in 2004 for nanotechnology research to $3.7 billion over a four year period.  The European Union and Japan are also investing heavily.  


Organic light emitting diodes (OLED) Although not an improvement in battery chemistry, the OLED technology could reduce power consumption and even provide brighter screens in portable devices.  These low-power self-luminescent LEDs are painted into glass in three-colored layers.  Dupont and Xerox have five to six year goals to use this technology with flexible plastic screens for portable devices.  

Reducing the energy usage of the screen is critical.  For instance,  approximately 33 percent of the power for notebooks is consumed by the display.  

Software Today, notebooks have software to reduce the screen’s brightness on computer notebooks to conserve battery life.  This can be controlled  with specific keystroke  sequences, function keys or a software utility.  The newest ThinkPad laptop software  by IBM allows the user to speed up the processor or slow it down, brighten or dim the display, turn the cooling fan off or on, and adjust the speed of the hard drive - all to extend battery life.  

Power Management

Both hardware and software can help to increase power efficiency and yet continue to promote miniaturization with aggressive integration of functions.  Designers are creating chips by integrating power management and user interface functions, thus maximizing battery life.  

 In an article, “Longer Battery Life Through Integrated Power Management” in the November 12, 2004 issue of EDN, Nicholas  Cravotta states, “PMUs (Power Management Units) generally offer one to three types of programmable regulators - low dropout (LDO), buck, and boost -which convert battery Voltage to a stable Voltage for a particular component.”   However, each is only a piece meal solution and what is needed is a top down holistic design approach.  As Dennis Sieminsky states in his report on the Portable Power Conference of September 12th, 2004, a full array of options are needed. “These include items such as: processors designed specifically for optimal energy usage, dynamic Voltage and frequency management,  reducing the number of Voltages in the system to a minimum, integrated synchronous buck regulators, lowest Voltage devices available, shutting down circuits not being used, smart batteries with accurate fuel gauging and lower power displays.” (Report in Advanced Battery Technology, December 2004, p. 16)

One example of  a new  chip is the MC13890, a monolithic power management and user interface IC by Freescale Wireless  Technology.  This chip is said to combine key power management functions and a full audio system suitable for mid-to-high-tier applications. Freescale was an exhibitor at CES.  

Another new chip, Sipix Corporations’ SP6656 IC, is a 400 mA synchronous buck regular with logic controlled output Voltage selection.  The bit programmable output Voltage of the chip allows it to dynamically adjust to the changing power requirements of today’s ASICs, DSPs and microprocessors used in portable electronic equipment. In essence, the operation of the SP6656 is optimized for applications using either Lithium-ion or three Alkaline/Nickel-cadmium or Nickel-metal hydride batteries as a power source.  The chip’s  control loop, 20 uA light load quiescent current and integrated 0.3 Ohm sychronous switches provide efficiency across a wide range of output currents, increasing battery life. As the input battery supply decreases towards its output Voltage, the SP6656 uses a special control loop to seamlessly transition into 100% duty-cycle mode with only 80uA quiescent current, further extending useful battery life.  The SP6656 can also be shutdown using the ENABLE pin, reducing power drawing to nanoAmps and enabling longer standby times in portable electronics.  

Linear Technology prolongs battery life with its new 100mA-to1A charger for new 4.375 float-Voltage Lithium-ion batteries.  After a battery is fully charged, the LTC4061-4.4 enters a standby mode.  Because frequent recharge cycles decrease battery capacity and shorten battery life, the SmartStart feature starts recharging the battery only if the battery Voltage drops below 4.375 Volts.  This features reduces unnecessary charge cycles, prolonging battery life.  At any point in the charge cycle, this chip can be shut down, limiting battery-drain current to less than 2uA.

System Technology ByuckHae, a battery chipset group in South Korea, says it has developed the world’s first cellular phone-use portable smart battery pack that extends battery life, therefore talk time, by 80 percent.   Mobile Save MPB 4000 is a large capacity Lithium-ion cell pack with power capacity of 4,600 mAh. This Smart Battery displays how much power remains in the battery pack with an LED power gauge.  The company’s own integrated circuit microchip MPB 4000 identifies its chemistry and  tells the battery charger which algorithm to apply.       

Nippon Telegraph and Telephone’s Prototype
of Next-Generation Mobile Phone Fuel Cell
Adobe Photoshop Image
Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Corporation of Japan has developed a prototype micro polymer-electrolyte fuel cell (PEFC)  that uses hydrogen gas as a fuel and is small enough to directly fit in a mobile phone.   Under tests using a production-model mobile phone, this prototype PEFC successfully powered start-up and signal reception/transmission (i.e., video phone, voice calls, and “i-mode” internet services).  In conjunction with this development, the company also developed a device for automatically  topping off the micro PEFC with hydrogen.

The NTT PEFC attains a high output power compatible with that of a Lithium-ion battery without producing CO2 during power generation.  The PEFC is suitable for directly fitting into a mobile 3G phone and enables a talk time of nine hours.  By changing the surface area of the PEFC’s power-generation part, it is possible to apply the PEFC to a variety of mobile electronic devices like video cameras, digital cameras, PDAs and notebook PCs.  

NTT says the unit has higher power density than a DMFC (methanol- fueled fuel cell)  since it is hydrogen-gas fuelled, even though the power-generation area is smaller.  Owing to booster technology, the conventionally required “stacking” of cells is unnecessary.  By unifying the hydrogen-storage alloy tank and electricity-generating part, the number of parts and battery size have been reduced.  (Photo is courtesy of NTT Corporation.) +

Thus, power management chips and their associated software can  coordinate  the fine tuning deep sleep, light napping and wake-up sequences  and in addition, can provide the help needed to manage the “supply perturbations due to current surges flowing through the source impedance of the battery,” as noted by Mr. Crovotta. By reducing  the mountainous start- up surges into gentle elevated needs for power, the battery does not have to undergo strenuous dips and therefore, the cut-off time to minimum battery level is lengthened which results in more effective and improved charge cycles for the lifetime of the battery.  As Ken Dulaney of the Gartner Group says, “Companies that make circuits to control batteries try to close the gap by wringing more energy out of the cells.   (“Balance of power,” Electronic Business, 03/01/05)


In an article entitled “What’s Next? -Preparing for the Disruptive Technologies of Tomorrow” (Consumer Electronics Vision,  01 and 02/05, p.  10), Ron Schneiderman lists micro fuel cells as Number 3 on the list of ten.  In writing about the topic he said, “Most micro fuel cells (MFCs) are in the prototype stage and may not be widely available until 2006, but it should be worth the wait.”  He notes that MTI Micro Fuel Cells expects to be able to boost the standby time for cell phones from three to 15 days.

The following is a brief  status report on micro fuel cells.

U.S. based companies

Millennium Cell demonstrated an IBM ThinkPad running on its  prototype fuel cell attached across the laptop at  Intel’s Developer Forum early in  2005.  The cartridge, similar in size to a cassette tape, contains the fuel that is fed through a thin tube to the laptop.  The sodium borohydride solution in the cartridge passes through a fuel pump  and moves into a catalyst chamber which then triggers a reaction.  This reaction causes hydrogen to be released from the liquid fuel.  The hydrogen then mixes with oxygen already  in the laptop.  The reaction of hydrogen and oxygen create electricity.   Dow Chemical is collaborating with the company to help develop and commercialize  this technology for the consumer (and military) market.  Prime time to market may be another two years.

Medis Technologies, Ltd. is placing its current emphasis on a fuel cell that can charge batteries in mobile phones.  Its  Power Pack charger has one fuel cell which is fueled with a mixture of borohydride, alcohol, water and alkaly.  Production is planned for the second half of this year.  A consumer using this disposable charger could provide his/her  cell phone with three to five full recharges.  Costs for the charger are estimated at $10 to $20 each.  General Dynamics  is currently testing the Power Packs in PDAs.

Some other U.S.-based companies working on small fuel cells are MTI Microfuel Cells, Motorala Labs and Neah Power Systems.   

Japan and  Korea

The Far East’s  electronic giants  ( i.e., Toshiba, NEC, Casio, Sony, Hitachi, Canon and Samsung ) have well-funded research projects in fuel cell development.  These are all companies with high visibility at CES.

Toshiba, Hitachi and NEC are researching methanol-based fuel cells which could power laptops for possibly ten hours. This March (2005), Toshiba demonstrated a prototype fuel cell powered notebook At CeBIT in Germany.

 DMFCs (Direct Methanol Fuel Cells) are perhaps the most common design for powering portables.  The fuel is a mix of methanol and water.    

 In the past six months, Toshiba Corp. has developed a microelectromechanical systems  (MEMS) based pump for fuel cells, a move seen as an important step in miniaturizing the devices for portable systems.  Toshiba’s prototype device uses MEMS technology to pump fuel and air into a passive fuel cell stack for a portable phone recharger.


Smart Fuel Cell in Germany says it has a prototype and anticipates launching its first micro fuel cell, the C25, later in 2005.  This German company has been able to significantly  reduce the cost of fuel cells by using half the platinum, a costly and needed material in the catalyst of  the cells.

Is it  “ready- set and go” for micro fuel cells?

In 2003, The US Fuel Cell Council’s 2003 market study, “Fuel Cells for Portable Power,” forecasted that 19 million fuel cell units could be shipped in 2006, representing $500  million in annual sales.  Although Medis is ready to take orders for its disposable fuel cells, most companies are showing prototypes but are extending time periods for launching product until 2007.  Toshiba’s Masa Okumura, the company’s director of worldwide product planning, said it would be early in 2008 before the fuel cell and its methanol pump for  its notebooks would be commercially available.  Both NEC and Casio Computer are talking about having a commercial  product on the market in 2007.  

The technical community in the fuel cell arena  are fine tuning  micro fuel cells for improved and smaller form factors, enhancing reliability in all environments and temperatures, and performing  safety testing.  They are also developing standards for a fuel mix and cartridges while  working   with  organizations such as the Federal Aviation Administration to get approvals for  fuel cell cartridges on aircraft, especially with reference to methanol.  

However, even when all of these challenges are met,  the final test for acceptance will be with the consumer. Since fuel cells typically have poor power density and thus do not provide spikes of power,  a  best solution for many portable devices may  be a hybrid power source - a battery and a fuel cell and/or possibly a supercapacitor and a fuel cell.   Can the cost of such a hybrid be low enough  for consumer acceptance?   How will fuel cell chargers be accepted in comparison  to the battery chargers available today?  In general, will fuel cells be cost competitive and offer enough extra power for the consumer to give them definite preference over a battery-powered device?


The battery industry is to be commended for  its track record in tweaking up battery chemistry and working with new form factors and materials to create better batteries for the consumer.  “Keeping a lid on power is a constant battle against the increased functionality everybody wants,” said analyst Ken Kulany of the Gartner Group. Although consumers have an insatiable appetite for more and more power, portable units are not starving due to lack of power and certainly do    provide    connectivity  for those on-the-go. But, the cheering crowd continues to demand, “We want more!”

Micro fuel cells may or may not be the winner.  However, the industry has come a long way in the past five years from the time  they talked about research and development in the late ‘90s  to today, where  working prototypes are being demonstrated.

And,  in the meantime, while waiting for the next electrochemical device which has the  answer to the  verdict for portable power, Compact Power Systems is touting its  CellBoost TM   for cell phones, as one answer. With multiple full page ads  at CES, the company says its matchbook-sized battery/charger can deliver an average of  60 minutes of talk time /60 hours of standby time to the average handset.  For $6 or $7 , the unit  can revive a dead battery without access to an electrical outlet.

So, what enhancements in power sources will be available for the consumers’ portable electronics next year?   Tune in to CES-Las Vegas, January 2006.