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PC shortages 'inevitable' says Gartner

Flooding in Thailand set to rock supply chain

The channel should be braced for some PC shortages in the run up to Christmas as disk drive production woes caused by the floods in Thailand take effect, Gartner has warned.

In an ironic twist – the industry has been awash with stock in the year to date as consumer demand fell off the edge of a cliff – resellers and punters could be faced with availability issues.

Gartner research director Ranjit Atwal told The Reg that although PC demand is subdued, a shortfall in supply is "inevitable".

"There will be an impact but its about which PC vendors can move the quickest to grab hold of whatever inventory there is in the supply chain," he said.

WD – the largest disk drive maker worldwide – was hit badly by the floods and is warning of a multi-quarter challenge before it can resume production, while the next biggest player, Seagate, is working through issues with sub-assembly suppliers.

It also emerged yesterday that Toshiba is dealing with a long term closure of its Thai HDD facility which is waterlogged.

Distributors are already trying to spread existing volumes between reseller customers and according to sources in the broker market, prices have risen by 30 per cent to 50 per cent in the last week alone.

In a statement mailed to El Reg, a Lenovo spokeswoman said that in the "near future" the company expected to see supply constraint on disk drives.

"A situation that likely will last at least through the end of the year and into the first quarter of 2012, as HDD manufacturers and their suppliers work to recover production capacity."

Graham Long, UK veep at Samsung UK, said he also expected to see constraint from the tail-end of 2011 and into Q1 next year but said Samsung was better equipped than some due to its own disk drive production facilities.

"It's an industry-wide issue and everyone is expecting that there will be some impact, we are working very closely with our factories to ensure that we prioritise products [for ourselves] and will do all we can to satisfy demand."

Notebook giant Acer said it is watching the situation closely and claimed it was too early to say if shortages would hit this year but Antonella Fornara, EMEA director of product lines management, agreed "the situation is quite uncertain now".

Fujitsu CFO Kazuhiko Kato said today – as he outlined its Q2 numbers – that Fujitsu would source supply from Seagate and Toshiba, which acquired its HDD business in early 2009.

The firm previously experienced the impact of natural disaster in its native Japan, and according to reports Kato said: "One lesson we learned from the tsunami was to keep inventory". ®


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