The hard drive shortage created by the historic flooding in Thailand is proving to be more serious than expected.
Western Digital and Seagate, two of the industry’s major suppliers of HDD’s, had their production facilities shut down completely for several weeks.
Western Digital this week announced resumption of limited operations at their HDD assembly facility in Bang Pa-in.
Also affected by the flooding were companies that supply HDD components, such as read heads and controllers, to the industry. The shortage is now anticipated to stretch well into 2012 and possibly into Q1 of 2013. The short-term impact is rather dramatic. According to IHC, a PC market analysis firm, the seasonal drop-off in PC sales from Q4 of 2011 to Q1 of 2012 will nearly double this year as a result of the HDD shortage.
Matthew Wilkins, senior analyst at IHC, states “The PC supply chain says it has sufficient HDD inventory for the 4th quarter of 2011. However, those stockpiles will run out in the 1st quarter of 2012, impacting PC production during that period.” This downturn will come on top of a trend toward increased notebook demand compared to PC’s.
HDD prices in the U.S. and Canada went up by as much as 300% in a very short period of time and are likely to remain high for the foreseeable future as supply will continue to lag behind demand. OEM’s will be first in line for current production availability with little or nothing left for the consumer or enthusiast.
This could not come at a better time for the SSD market. Several factors are making SSD’s more attractive as an alternative to hard-to-find HDD’s. Manufacturers are making the jump to SSDs with NAND of lower price points and increased density. New players offering complete migration packages at attractive prices are entering the market as is seen with the Samsung Samsung 830 series kit which includes a popular game to attract the gaming enthusiast.
Existing products are benefiting from increased reliability and performance via firmware updates. The difference in the cost-per-GB of storage between HDD’s and SSD’s has never been lower and the gap continues to shrink. Watch for this trend to continue well into 2012 and beyond and be prepared to take full advantage!