Flooded fabs to ship 48m fewer disks in Q4

Camera and car makers also capsized


Disk drive shipments are set to plummet by nearly 28 per cent in Q4 – 48 million fewer units than a year ago – in the wake of the devastating flooding in Thailand, says beancounter iSuppli.

The ripple effect of the worst flooding in the country for more than half a century is also likely to be felt across many sectors of IT and other industries, the analyst warned.

"The drop [in hard disk] is the largest sequential decrease on a percentage basis since the fourth quarter of 2008 when shipments fell 21.2 percent during the worst point of the last electronics downturn," said iSuppli.

It estimates 30 per cent of hard disk production will be lost in Q4 as factories are inundated with water, and as a result prices will rise by 10 per cent – which seems a little conservative given the recent swing already seen in the UK.

As has been well documented, the world's largest HDD manufacturer WD has been hit hardest by the rising waters and its market share is forecast to dramatically fall by the end of this year, leaving it in third place, while Toshiba is expected to fall from fourth to fifth.

Disk drives underpin the digital age and shortages will be felt across swathes of the IT industry, while the flooding has also hit car makers.

"In the PC market, the HDD shortage is likely to have the greatest impact on notebook PCs. The specific HDD plants affected by the flooding make devices designed for mobile computers," said iSuppli.

So far Acer has confirmed price rises on the next batch of shipments and rival ASUS revealed yesterday it will run out of disk drives by the end of this month. Other PC vendors have noted the challenges in securing HDDs but have not commented further.

However, current PC stockpiles in the channel following leaner demand this year will shelter biz or retail customers from availability glitches until Q1 next year.

DRAM is likely to feel the strain of a slowing mobile PC market as "any reduction in PC sales due to supply constraints will further depress the already oversupplied DRAM market", said iSuppli.

Some camera makers – including Sony, Nikon and Canon – have been disrupted by the natural disaster in the Far East as have car makers, with Ford, Mazda, Hino, Honda, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota suspending production in Thailand. ®

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