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Massive PC shortages to hit this Xmas

Flooded disk drive fabs flush Santa's sack

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PC shortages will likely dampen retail sales this Christmas as a result of the shortfall in hard drive production caused by killer flooding in Thailand.

Analysts claimed this week that 48 million fewer disks will be shipped this quarter, but had reckoned the PC supply chain has sufficient stocks to see it through to next year.

Not so according to Acer UK boss Neil Marshall, who reckons product availability will dry up in the festive season.

"The whole industry is expecting shortages in terms of what we're hearing from retailers. Our competitors will struggle with supply and we are best positioned to capitalise on the shortages of others," he told El Reg.

The firm suffered from inventory overload this year and even though the profile is better than it has been all year, "we can use it [the remainder] to plug the gaps".

The flooding in Thailand wrecked WD's in-country production lines, inundated Toshiba's drive plant and ruined Seagate's sub assembly market. It also killed scores of people and left hundreds of thousands of others out of work.

Graham Long, veep at Samsung UK, said the disaster had impacted disk drives and the components used to manufacture them and other goods.

"Unfortunately there will be some shortages in Q4 but we are working with HQ and our partners to try to satisfy the healthy demand that we've got," he said.

Sony UK general manager Raj Pandya told The Reg: "Like everyone else there will be an impact." He said detailing the numbers was not possible at this stage and it would be another 10 days before Sony gets a clear picture.

Distribution insiders claim HP, Apple and Asus will struggle with PC supplies in the fourth quarter - Asus confirmed it will run out of drives by the end of November. One well-placed source, speaking about vendors across the board, suggested some lines "could have a 20 per cent to 30 per cent volume shortfall in the consumer space".

According to reports in DigiTimes, PC vendors are now turning to the grey market to source hard drives.

The panic buying resulted in Original Design Manufacturers (ODM) in Taiwan doubling, or in some cases tripling, order volumes with disk makers, says DigiTimes.

As revealed by The Reg yesterday, drive prices in the channel have doubled in the past couple of weeks and, unless the situation dramatically improves, they could rise significantly again.

Other distribution sources are warning that PC shortages will be more severe in Q1, and WD – hit hardest by the flooding – has warned that resolving the problems will be a multi-quarter challenge.

HP has refused to comment, while spokesmen for Apple and Asus were unavailable to talk to us. ®

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