Chemical Reaction: IPod Is Short Key Material

Published on March 29, 2011
by Mariko Sanchanta

A representative from Apple Inc. recently called Kureha Corp.’s offices in the U.S. The problem: Apple was facing tight supplies of lithium-ion batteries used in its popular iPods, and they traced the supply bottleneck to the relatively obscure Japanese chemicals maker.

Kureha, which has a 70 percent 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.

Its chief executive said Japan’s natural disaster would accelerate the company’s plans to move more of its production overseas. “For a company like Kureha, this is the only way of surviving,” said Takao Iwasaki in an interview on Monday.

Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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