Beyond the immense scope of the disaster for the citizens of Thailand, the country's recent floods have had a profound impact on the many high-tech companies (and their employees) that do business in the region. Here's a look at some of the fallout.If you'd like to help with the flood relief efforts, the Red Cross' Thai site is accepting donations.
Mar 30, 2012Read Article >
While a return to the pricing of a year ago is unlikely due to rising costs of production, it's still comforting to hear that supply is predicted to pre-flood levels of around 175 million units per quarter by Q3 this year. However, this contradicts earlier reports that Seagate expects supply to remain well below demand for the rest of 2012 as its suppliers struggle to recover.
Feb 29, 2012
Today, Western Digital just agreed to give Toshiba the equipment and intellectual property required to build consumer-grade 3.5-inch hard drives, but Toshiba won't be paying in cash. In exchange, the Japanese storage company will give Western Digital a 2.5-inch HDD facility that's been shut down since the Thailand flood disaster late last year. It sounds like a crazy deal, until you remember what's at stake: Western Digital needed to divest part of its 3.5-inch hard drive business in order to satisfy the European Union's conditions for a merger with Hitachi this year.Read Article >
Since Seagate already bought Samsung's hard drive business, the thought process went, a WD / Hitachi merger would leave the hard drive industry with only two major players in the consumer hard drive space, unless WD could be weakened appropriately. Now, Western Digital may have what it takes to merge with Hitachi at last, and we can all look forward to the repercussions until Toshiba takes up the slack. Both companies expect the deal to be approved next month.
Feb 1, 2012
Seagate released its Q2 2012 (fiscal year) results yesterday, and not surprisingly the company had some statements to make about the effect the Thailand flooding had on its business. The company acknowledged that hard drive shortages will most likely continue throughout the calendar year of 2012, with supply trailing demand by about 150 million units by the end of 2012. From an industry-wide perspective, Seagate said that 119 million drives were shipped overall, short of estimated demand for 175 million drives. These shortages have led to Seagate observing some shifts in how customers order its products — the company is making more long-term deals to lock down pricing, with some deals running multiple years, which is a trend that Seagate hasn't observed before.Read Article >
Despite the flooding, Seagate didn't have such a bad quarter — the company shipped 47 million units in the quarter, down four percent from the year-ago quarter, and pulled in $3.2 billion in revenue (up 18 percent year-over-year). Seagate actually made out better than some of its competitors in the flooding; its factories weren't directly hit, but it is dealing with shortages from component suppliers which has hurt the overall business. It sounds like this will be an ongoing issue for the hard drive industry for the rest of the year — hopefully consumers won't have to pay too much of a premium on storage in 2012.
Jan 25, 2012
Yes, you read that headline right: despite the fact that neither AMD nor Nvidia manufacture a product that requires a magnetic drive, both claim that the hard drive shortages that resulted from the 2011 Thailand flood disaster impacted their ability to sell graphics processors, and ultimately their bottom line. Both AMD CEO Rory Read and Nvidia CEO Jen-Hsun Huang had said last quarter that they didn't expect any impact at all from the floods — "it's really a non-factor," said Huang — but Nvidia just told the world that it may have earned roughly $116 million less revenue than the company originally expected due to the hard drive shortage (as well as Tegra 2 decline), and AMD told investors that it saw "a little bit of pressure in terms of hard disk" during its earnings call today.Read Article >
There's a perfectly logical explanation, of course, because we've heard this rhetoric before: with fewer hard drives, fewer PCs can be sold, period, and all component manufacturers suffer. Interestingly, though, Nvidia also suggests that some OEMs chose not to include GPUs in their systems at all due to the price of hard drives. Perhaps Intel's somewhat-improved integrated graphics and AMD Fusion aren't the only reasons discrete solutions are getting the heave-ho.
Jan 24, 2012Read Article >
The floods in Thailand certainly had an effect on hard drive supplies and prices, and now Western Digital's earnings report for Q1 2012 attaches some hard numbers to the impact. Although prices rose 47 percent to $69 per unit over last year, WD sold 23.7 million fewer hard drives, a 45 percent drop. Some of that price jump can be attributed to increased manufacturing costs, but most of it went to towards profit with a gross margin increase to 32.5 percent over last year's 19.2. Overall, WD reported $199 million in expenses related to the floods and $2 billion in total revenue, down about half a billion dollars from last year. The company says its factories in Thailand should be back to pre-flood capacities by September 2012, with inventory pipelines replenished in the first half of 2013. But in the end, it looks like it could be a while before hard drive prices return to September 2011 levels.
Dec 12, 2011Read Article >
Intel will be holding a conference call in just a bit, and we'll updating with any further developments.
Nov 23, 2011Read Article >
Although Seagate's factories weren't directly impacted by the huge flooding in Thailand, the company has been affected by the inventory shortages of components crucial to its supply chain. All Things D recently interviewed Seagate CEO Steve Luczo, who assessed the road that lies ahead for the industry: supply shortages will continue until at least late 2012, and the industry may not return to normal until the end of 2013. And while manufacturers are adapting to the shortage by including fewer parts in their drives by using a single higher-density disk with two heads instead of two disks with four heads, Luczo says price increases are inevitable. Although Seagate doesn't plan to build factories outside of the flood zone because it views the situation as temporary, it's probably still a good idea to stock up on hard drives before prices start skyrocketing — or finally make the jump to SSD.
Nov 17, 2011Read Article >
After postponing the release of its SLT-A65 and NEX-7 cameras due to the massive flooding in Thailand, Sony has resumed production, according to DPReview. The company has moved the production lines from its affected Ayuthaya site — which makes headphones and lens kits, as well as the cameras in question — to an operational plant further south in Chonburi. The flooding has had enormous repercussions not just for Thailand's residents but for the consumer electronics industry as a whole, with hard drive prices and availability seeing an immediate impact, and Sony pointing to the disaster as one of the driving forces behind its projected $1.2 billion loss this year. The new cameras had originally been slated to ship this month, but even with the plant change, no new release dates have been given yet.
Nov 11, 2011
The Nikon 1 series of cameras are off to a quick start. Nikon says that sales are strong and supply of its first mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lenses cannot keep up with demand.Read Article >
As we previously reported, the floods in Thailand have already impacted production of Nikon's DSLR cameras and lenses. Nikon suspended operations on October 6th and is now busy procuring equipment in order to resume production at alternate facilities. Its goal is to begin anew from December with the aim of returning to normal production levels by the end of March 2012.
Nov 7, 2011
The disastrous flooding in Thailand could mean a shortage of hard drives for the next few months, with an accompanying massive price spike. This isn't the first time we've heard this news from the floods, but the effects are now beginning to show. According to DigiTimes, there could be a 10 percent shortage in hard disks from December until April as inventories will probably run out by the end of November, and production won't gear back up to full capacity until February at the earliest. Allegedly, this shortage has caused the PC manufacturers to go searching the grey market for more drives, which by their very nature have less stringent quality controls, and could mean a spate of PCs with less-than-reliable disks.Read Article >
The price hikes have already started to hit consumers, and if you want a new HDD, you'd best be getting one as soon as possible — this is not the time to be waiting for a post-holiday sale. ExtremeTech has looked at the price of number of HDDs, and since September they've all significantly spiked in price, some to more than double their previous cost. While SSDs don't seem to have been hit by the floods, they'll be more popular because of it, and may also rise in price.
Nov 5, 2011Read Article >
Nikon has issued a third official note on the damage to its facilities from the ongoing flooding in Thailand, and it looks like it will be closed into next year. The company's Ayutthaya plant will begin production again in January and get fully back up to speed by March, but with its doors shuttered since October 6th, the damage has already been substantial. This factory is used for both Nikon DLSRs and its new interchangeable lens V1 and J1 cameras —and three to six months of limited production will make Nikon's newest gear very difficult to get hold of for the immediate future. The flood waters have receded from their 2-yard deep peak by about 15 inches, but that's still far too deep to begin repair work and Nikon is already estimating the financial damage at 65 billion yen ($830 million) in sales and 25 billion yen ($320 million) in income. This is the second major disaster to hit Nikon's production facilities in the last yea — the Japanese earthquake and tsunami significantly lowered its output earlier in 2011.
Nov 2, 2011Read Article >
When the fiscal year is done, Sony will have lost almost $8.5 billion from televisions over the last eight years. And while Sony has executed upon plans to restructure its TV business in the past, it has yet to successfully return the division to profitability. As such, there's little reason to trust management's latest "TV Business Profitability Improvement Plan" which aims to return the business to profitability by March 31, 2014.
Nov 1, 2011Read Article >
It's not a happy news sort of morning over in Taiwan, where Asus CFO David Chang has told Reuters he expects the company to lower its revenue estimates for the fourth quarter due to production constraints brought on by the floods in Thailand. Specifically, Chang's company says it has enough hard disk drives in its inventory to last only until the end of the month, at which point the only viable products it'll be able to ship will presumably be the higher-end SSD-equipped models. Of course, that's assuming there won't be a change in current circumstances, which is unlikely, but it does provide a stark illustration of the impact those floods are having on the electronics industry. Prices of hard drives are fluctuating pretty wildly at the moment, with rises between 20 and 40 percent according to Chang, and the likely outcome seems to be that at least some of this hardship will be reflected in the prices Asus is able to offer in stores.
Oct 22, 2011
A large shortage of hard drives is expected in the coming months due to the worst flood to hit Thailand in over fifty years. As you can see in these images, Western Digital has been hit hard by the flooding and the company has suspended production in Thailand. Obviously, it's going to take some time for Western Digital to recover from the flood damage to its factories. Other hard drive manufacturers (such as Seagate) will also be affected as component suppliers have experienced flooding. According to Western Digital CEO John Coyne, it will all add up to a significantly reduced supply of hard drives into 2012.Read Article >
CRN reports that prices on hard drives are already rising in distribution channels and companies in the industry are watching inventory closely; some distributors may be stockpiling drives rather than selling them until the situation on the ground becomes clearer. Just how the shortage will ultimately affect consumers is also up in the air and will depend on how Western Digital and its distributors allocate existing inventory. PC makers are taking notice, however: Apple CEO Tim Cook is on the record as expecting "an overall industry shortage of disk drives" and a Dell spokesperson said the company is "working with our hard drive suppliers to address potential impact for the remainder of the year."