Sony Corp. (NYSE: SNE) is stopping any current shipments and sales of Xperia, the Tokyo-based tech giant’s newly minted tablet computer released just last month, after discovering a manufacturing defect that makes the device susceptible to water damage.
In a press release issued Friday, Sony said that a gap between the tablet screen -- the display body of the device -- and the case itself left the tablet’s interior open to water splashes and moisture damage. The problem is particularly ironic given the fact that Sony touted its new entry into an increasingly crowded tablet marketplace as more stoutly water resistant than its competitors.
First unveiled this past August in Berlin, the Xperia tablet lists its “splash-proof” exterior as one of its top features.
The company said that responsibility for the defect fell on a manufacturing flaw at the Chinese plant where the devices are assembled, implying that Sony still has confidence in the design of the Xperia itself independent of any current stumbles in the production pipeline.
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Since its release last month, the tablet has shipped about 100,000 units, Sony said in its statement. The company added that it will repair any damaged devices.
A Sony spokesman told Reuters that the company has no time frame yet for when it expects sales of the new tablet to resume.
Making the device splash-proof was an attempt to set the tablet apart from increasing competition from other major tech industry figures such as Amazon Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN), Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT), all of whom are clamoring to offering a wider range of features and prices for their devices to meet growing competition and consumer interest.
"Most people don't worry about waterproofing. But far more Japanese companies create water-resistant devices -- more so than in the UK or the U.S. It's obviously a big selling point for them -- not many tablets promote waterproofing," he said.
Despite the potential embarrassment, Sony shares rose by nearly 4 percent Friday morning, jumping to $12.20 in late-morning trading.