Tech Supply Shortages Loom After Japan Earthquake

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Consumers could be looking at higher prices on televisions, PCs and phones in the wake of the 9.0-magnitude earthquake that hit Japan last Friday.

Although the effects of the quake on Japan’s tech manufacturing industry are still unclear, major display panel makers such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics are facing shortages from component suppliers due to blackouts and transport issues.┬áSebastian Ho, an analyst with Yuanta Investment Consulting in Taipei, told IDG News service that shortages could result in higher prices for panel buyers, resulting in more expensive products for consumers.

Display manufacturers weren’t the only ones affected by the earthquake. The price of NAND Flash — the type of storage typically found in mobile phones and tablets — has already spiked, according to IDG. Toshiba, one of the world’s biggest NAND suppliers, said its factories are still running, but makers of silicon wafers, onto which the NAND chips are etched, had to stop production.

Apple products, however, may be largely unaffected. Wintek Corp., a Taiwan-based touch screen supplier for Apple, said it hasn’t seen any effects on its supply yet. In any case, Apple tends to lock in its prices for products like the iPhone and iPad. Delayed shipments would be more likely if any supply problems arose.

The bigger risk would be for buyers of laptop and desktop computers, whose prices can fluctuate due to discounts and sales. We’ll see what happens, but given the catastrophe that’s still unfolding in Japan, try to put the idea of pricier gadgets in perspective.