Thai floods to impact PC shipments in 2012

You know you have your priorities right when you're writing about how a natural disaster will affect the availability of electronic devices. But while it turns out that the recent floods in Thailand won't have much of an impact on this Christmas season, 2012 will certainly see some shortages of hardware: perhaps as much as 20 per cent compared to the same periods this year.

With manufacturers like Western Digital hit hard by the flooding, production has all but ceased in many parts of the country. It will take several months of clean-up and equipment repair before it ramps back up to full speed as well, meaning that shortages of hard drives are just around the corner. While enough PCs to cover the holiday season can be produced using current stockpiles of hardware, the first quarter of 2012 should start to see supply problems surface.

According to news agency Associated Press, global market intelligence firm IDC estimates that between October and December, supplies will only be around 10 per cent below normal levels, though next year will see further dips in supply. The analyst expects to see price hikes on hard drives as demand outstrips availability.

IDC went on to say that Thailand accounted for almost 45 per cent of global hard drive manufacture, with almost half of all production facilities hit by flooding.

There's also a split in opinion within IDC, with some analysts claiming that the big manufacturers will receive priority over limited shipments of HDDs; others claim even the largest will feel the pinch as hard drive supplies dry up.

Either way, it's likely to be months before everything returns to normal - by which time, demand for hard disks may have decreased as more users move over to the ever more value-focused SSDs.