Quake to cause component shortages

New Zealand computer suppliers expect shortages of a wide array of components following last week's devastating earthquake in Taiwan. Further, most notebook OEMS are based in Taiwan, which provides 40% of the world's supply.

New Zealand computer suppliers expect shortages of a wide array of components following last week's devastating earthquake in Taiwan.

Vic Yang, managing director of CheckSun, a component wholesaler and importer, expects supply of memory, motherboards and high-end VGA cards to be affected.

However, New Zealand won't feel the impact until next month, he says. The likely result is price increases. Yang says he has spoken to representatives of the Taipei-based company Gigabyte, which cancelled forthcoming mother-board shipments.

Andrew Ramsom, market development manager for Melco, also believes a supply problem is looming. Although his Gigabyte representative has tried to guarantee supply, Ransom says he wouldn't be surprised if the promises cannot be met.

How severe the effects will be is still difficult to gauge because many components factories are now based on mainland China and Malaysia, he says.

Peter Wogan, marketing communications director for Compaq New Zealand, says the company is still trying to get more information on the situation in Taiwan but he believes there will be some disruption. Compaq notebooks are manufactured by Taiwanese companies Inventec and Arima.

Apple, Dell, Gateway and Hewlett-Packard also have notebooks manufactured there as most notebook OEMS are based in Taiwan, with Taiwanese manufacturers churning out some six million machines, or roughly 40% of the world's supply.

Peter Brett, of Insite Technology, has spoken to the Insite's Taiwan-based mother-board manufacturer Asustek, which had escaped the worst of the quake.

"It's all working and alive. From what we understand the epicentre of the quake wasn't around Taipei ... I think we will experience delays in some of the components we ship out of Taiwan — in particular semiconductors and motherboards."

According to a statement from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world's largest contract chip manufacturer, the company's buildings, water and power distribution systems have successfully withstood the effects of the quake. Likewise, General Semiconductor has announced that its Taipei factory sustained no major damage in the quake.

However, it could be a week before electricity supplies return to normal throughout the island, according to authorities in Taiwan. Communications were hit hard by the quake, with power outages knocking out many telephony systems, including some base stations for mobile phones and computers for Internet access.

How the ongoing power outages will affect supplies of PCs and related products remains to be seen.

Taiwan is the world's third-largest manufacturer of PCs and related products, according to estimates by the Market Intelligence Centre, the market research arm of the government-backed Institute for Information Industry.

Supply of LCD screens is also l ikely to be affected. Six new fabrication plants were scheduled for opening over the next 18 months, which would have alleviated much of the pricing pressure now strangling the market. But the earthquake leaves a large question mark as to the timing of those plants.

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