updated 01:55 pm EST, Fri November 11, 2011
IDC warns Thai drive shortages could hurt netbooks
The lingering effects of flooded drive factories in Thailand could significantly bog down traditional PC builders, IDC estimated. It expected as much as a 10 percent drop in PC shipments for the fall. While relatively modest, it warned that the situation could get much worse as the full effects are felt in early 2012, when shipments could drop by more than 20 percent.
The shortfall could most deeply impact those companies in the low-end Windows PC space, IDC explained. Suppliers will most likely want to focus on their bigger customers first, and as a result could hurt netbooks, entry desktops and notebooks, and PCs in the developing world. Bigger companies may end up gaining share or end up improving their profit margins by steering buyers towards higher-end systems.
While not directly stated, the shortage could inadvertently benefit Apple. As the only notebook builder whose entry-level system uses only solid-state drives, its MacBook Air may be unaffected. Shortages of netbooks and budget notebooks may also steer more users towards the iPad, whose flash storage again will make it immune to hard drive shortages. Apple's large size may also keep the MacBook Pro and other Macs with rotating drives in healthy supply.
Acer, the key proponent of netbooks, has supported the analysis by anticipating a revenue drop in the fall.