While we've all heard the speculation and vague reasons as to why Sony has been facing battery recalls from many of their vendors, they are now coming out and explaining how and why so many batteries are faulty. Citing that the metal particles are nickel, they mention conditions have to be very specific and just right in order to trigger a fire or explosion. Factors included how the battery was charged, how it was stored and what type of enclosure it was in:

"The probability of this occurrence very much depends on system configuration," said Takashi Enami, senior general manager of the energy business group at Sony. He said size and shape of the battery pack and the charging configuration could all increase the risk but he wouldn't offer any specific information citing confidentiality agreements between Sony and its customers.
Considering the sheer number of batteries affected and the number of companies participating in the recall, many have speculated that Sony might face considerable financial and manufacturing difficulty in replacing all the units. They did confirm this, with rival companies being involved in helping the replacement:

The replacement batteries won't all come from Sony because it doesn't have the manufacturing capacity to produce them all in the time required, said Nakagawa. As a result Sony will source some cells from rival companies. Nakagawa said as a result there is a general possibility that Sony might not win back all the business it had before the battery problems occurred. Its success or failure in keeping business very much depends on how well Sony does to persuade customers that the problems are behind it, he said.
Suffice to say that this will continue to impact Sony for a long time to come. As a footnote, they mention that Sony increased the number of its own batteries being recalled to 250,000.