The recent floods in Thailand have wreaked devastation on the factories in the area; some were under a dozen feet or more of water, and all manner of companies were affected by the damage. Nikon and Samsung delayed cameras and a shortage of hard drives has caused a spike in prices.
The recovery effort is progressing apace, and the affected areas are being pumped or drained clear of water. Power was restored in the last week in some areas and Western Digital has just turned the lights back on at one of its factories there.
It’s not as simply as just sweeping out the seaweed and waiting for the conveyor belts to dry, though. The production of hard drives is an incredibly high-precision business, and the slightest amount of warping or the slightest contamination of an instrument could do a huge amount of damage.
Western Digital expects to resume production of the mechanisms made there in March, though previous estimates suggested that it will still be many months more before they reach pre-flood levels of production.
The loss of these factories for such a long time guarantees a huge deficit in the number of drives on the market — the early effects of which we’ve already seen in higher prices. The market will likely settle down a bit once inventories are confirmed and long-term plans made, but Western Digital alone says they’ll be short at least 50 million units this year.
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