Supply chain issues persist
Last year Thailand experienced the worst floods in the country’s modern history and the disaster quickly reflected on HDD supply chains. Western Digital and Toshiba were forced to halt production in their Thai plants and within weeks we saw the shortage push prices up dramatically.
Analysts predicted that the floods would create a protracted shortage caused by supply chain disruptions that will drag on well into 2012, while some OEMs believed the issue could be resolved as soon as January. Sadly, the analysts were spot on.
A quick check of 3.5-inch hard drive prices in Europe reveals that they are not going down at all, let alone coming back to pre-flood levels. The floods started in July and quickly started to affect prices, which spiked from about €25 per GB in retail, to almost €40 by October. We checked the price histories for three top selling 2TB drives from WD, Samsung and Seagate and they all told the same story. In fact, some retailers seem to be increasing prices even further, so 2TB drives still cost well over €80 in most markets, while some high-end models retail for €100+. This is a far cry from €49 bargains we saw in the first half of 2011.
Of course, the same applies to 2.5-inch drives, as well as all shapes and sizes of external drives. Enterprise drives, SAS and SCSI units do not seem to be as effected, but their share in the retail market is insignificant, as it is geared towards home and small business users.
The supply chains should stabilize by the end of the quarter, but now is probably a good a time as any to pick up an SSD instead.