Revenue, Supply & Demand: Effects of the 2011 Hard Drive Shortage

December 15, 2011
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The recent hard drive shortage caused by this year’s extreme Thailand floods is said to continue its major impact through 2013, according to market research firm IDC and reported by ComputerWorld.com. The hard drive shortage is being felt around the world as IT vendors, computer system merchants and consumers are all affected. While initial recovery was estimated to occur within the first three months of 2012, complete recovery may take longer.

The recent hard drive shortage caused by this year’s extreme Thailand floods is said to continue its major impact through 2013, according to market research firm IDC and reported by ComputerWorld.com. The hard drive shortage is being felt around the world as IT vendors, computer system merchants and consumers are all affected. While initial recovery was estimated to occur within the first three months of 2012, complete recovery may take longer.

According to TechRadar.com, the shortage has dramatically increased prices to as much as 150 percent, due primarily to the closure of many manufacturing plants. In addition, Digitimes reports an estimated 70 million HDD shortage for laptops and desktop computers in the fourth quarter of 2011. While computer and laptop demand is currently at 180 million, there are reportedly only enough hard drives available for 110-130 million.

Even Apple is feeling it – estimated shipping times have increased significantly from 1 to 3 days to 5 to 7 weeks for customized iMac products with 2TB hard drives, according to AppleInsider.com. Intel recently reported its Q4 revenue will fall from $13.7 billion to $14.7 billion due to the lack of hard drive supply, which has trickled down from fewer personal computers and servers to fewer semiconductors.

However, a recent NYTimes.com article highlights the potential opportunity the shortage has presented for the company: Intel is now looking to push sales of solid-state hard drives, the type used in ultrabooks (MacBook Air-like devices). The company’s future venture includes research to add touch screens to ultrabook devices, similar to tablets.

ComputerWorld.com reports that a rep from Lenovo, a Chinese multinational computer manufacturing company, has stated that PC orders are being placed for a supply that doesn’t exist. Their solution includes replacing unavailable drives for a different, “off-spec” drive. And even after swapping drives, customers will have to wait an extra 45-60 days.

The company hit hardest by the Thailand floods is Western Digital, the largest producer of hard drives, with an estimated 75 percent of its production shut down temporarily.

While Gartner reports the worldwide disk storage market growth in Q2 of 2011 is up nearly 12 percent from last year, as well as the disk market storage market for external cloud computing deployment up 56 percent from 2010, only time will tell what the major impacts on revenue will be in the next two years.

Sources:
Impact of Hard Drive Shortage to Linger Through 2013
Intel Sees Opportunity in Shortage of Drives
2TB Hard Drive Shortage Hits Apple’s BTO iMacs with 5-7 Week Wait
Hard Drive Shortage Pushes Prices Up 150%
Floods Forces Shutdown of Western Digital’s Thailand Plants