A shortage of hard disk drives (HDD) caused by the recent flooding in Thailand is expected to cut global PC shipments by about 4 million units in the fourth quarter, with desktop shipments experiencing the most severe blow, a researcher said.
Desktop PCs are expected to account for 80 percent of the reduced shipments, -DRAMeXchange, a research arm of TrendForce Corp (集邦科技), said in a report last week.
That means desktop shipments would plunge by 15 percent in the fourth quarter, instead of its earlier forecast of just 5 percent, the Taipei-based researcher said.
The shortage of HDDs for notebooks started in the middle of last month — right after the traditional peak month of October — leading to a likely shipment decline of 3.7 percent for the fourth quarter, the researcher said, slightly up from its earlier forecast of a 3.4 percent drop.
Thailand produces about one-third of global HDDs and main players, such as Western Digital Corp, Toshiba Corp, Hitachi Ltd and Seagate Technology PLC, had their facilities impacted by the floods.
Asustek Computer Inc (華碩電腦), the world’s No. 5 PC brand, has said it expects the HDD shortage to become more serious in the first quarter of next year. It said supplies have been secured for the current quarter and therefore the impact so far has been minimal.
According to DRAMeXchange, overall notebook HDD supply and demand may return to normal in the first quarter next year at the earliest, while desktop hard drives would only start seeing relief from the second quarter.
This is because HDD makers in other countries, including China, the Philippines and Malaysia, have ramped up capacity to make up for lower output in Thailand.
However, US-based consultancy and research firm IHS iSuppli predicted earlier this month that there could be an excess of HDDs next year when Thailand’s facilities are operating at full capacity.
“Ironically, the HDD market could face an inventory surplus by the end of 2012 after facilities in Thailand return to full production. When combined with the added production outside the country, the recovery in Thailand’s HDD operations could result in excess supply,” it said.
IHS predicted that worldwide PC shipments in the first quarter of next year would amount to 84.2 million units, down 11.6 percent from 95.3 million units in the fourth quarter of this year.