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Asian PC market slowed by HDD misery

Thai floods continue to hamper shipments in south-east Asia

Hard disk drive production levels may be reaching full capacity again after the widespread flooding in Thailand last year but the PC market in south east Asia is likely to be disrupted for some time to come after taking a severe knock in the last quarter, according to IDC.

The analyst’s Asia/Pacific Quarterly PC Tracker for Q4 2011 shows that the flooding hit Thailand with the double whammy of drastically reduced demand and supply chain chaos.

PC shipments for the quarter in Thailand dropped a whopping 40 per cent from the previous quarter and 14 per cent year-on-year, while reducing PC sales for the year to 17 per cent growth, despite promising much more than that at the beginning of 2011.

"The consumer market was heavily impacted by the severe floods. Apart from the drop in demand, supplies were heavily constrained throughout the quarter and vendors struggled to bring stocks into Thailand,” said IDC analyst Jarit Sidhu.

“However, the PC market was not only crippled by shortages in HDD supplies. Infrastructure damage caused by the floods also hampered access to outlying cities which further pulled down the market.”

IDC predicted demand for PCs would return in the country now that the post-flood rebuilding work has begun in earnest but supply problems would still affect shipments, especially in the first half of the year.

Elsewhere, the PC market in Malaysia and the Philippines both suffered, according to IDC. The analyst said only high public sector spending pushed sales in Malaysia up two per cent from the previous quarter.

It added that hard disk drive shortages pushed prices up and discouraged consumers from spending.

The Philippines were hit particularly hard by HDD shortages, with Q4 PC shipments declining by a third from the previous quarter to 334,000 units, said IDC.

A Digitimes report last month citing industry sources said that hard disk drive production in Thailand would reach about 80 per cent of pre-flood levels with between 140 and 145 million units set to ship in the first quarter of 2012.

This will be good news for the global supply chain which was severely affected by the shortage of HDDs, given that Thailand is the largest producer of these outside of China.

However, market analyst IHS iSuppli was more cautious, warning that high prices and low supply would continue to affect the industry for some time to come.

Global hard disk drive shipments fell by a quarter year-on-year in Q4 2011 and will decrease by another 13 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, it predicted. ®

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