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Chip shortages hit hard at Yamaha's musical instrument business

Tried silicon substitutes but that effort fell flat. Literally and tonally

A television interview on Thursday revealed an unexpected victim of the global semiconductor shortage: musical instrument-maker Yamaha.

The Japanese company makes both acoustic and electronic instruments, as well as headphones, audio mixers and car speaker systems.

Speaking on Nikkei CNBC television, company president Takuya Nakata said [VIDEO] the instrument business had been able to substitute silicon in some products, but the kit it could acquire produced a bum note in other instruments.

And while chipmakers are increasing production, their focus tends to be on newer and more profitable products. The less sophisticated tech Yamaha needs is harder to come by. As if that weren't enough, a fire at Yamaha chip supplier Asahi Kasei Microdevices in 2020 further affected the company's supply chain.

"There were about 35 billion yen ($253 million) in opportunity losses in the previous fiscal year. I think we could lose about 30 billion yen this fiscal year as well," said Nakata.

Yamaha also reported the missing $253 million in an investor Q&A in May 2022.

"Product supply shortages continuing due to difficulties in procuring semiconductors, such as sound generator LSIs, and disruptions in logistics, are estimated to continue to a certain extent into the next fiscal year," admitted [PDF] the company in its annual report for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2022.

In the annual report, the company reported a 9.5 percent year-on-year revenue increase, raking in approximately $3 billion.

In his interview, Nakata said wealthy Chinese buyers kept piano sales humming along nicely during the pandemic, proving that expensive COVID hobbies were a Middle Kingdom phenomenon, too. ®

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