TL;DR: Global semiconductor shortages have led to a slew of problems across multiple industries. From gaming consoles to PC hardware, new tech products have become notoriously difficult to find. Even the latest laptops are suffering low stock levels, a problem that will reportedly get worse as shipment numbers fall.
According to DigiTimes, which cites industry sources, shortages of display panels, LCD driver ICs and passive components are expected to “dampen notebook shipments” in the first quarter of 2021.
In December, we heard that display panel shortages—caused by an earthquake in Taiwan and a power outage in Japan that interrupted production—could lead to low stock and increased prices of monitors, laptops, and other devices with displays.
As noted by Tom’s Hardware, laptop shipments usually slow down in the first quarter due to the Chinese New Year celebrations, which see lower staff levels in manufacturing plants. Sources said that companies plan to keep a more standard output during the festivities to try and offset issues caused by the component shortages, but it might not be enough.
Laptop makers are reportedly increasing their stock levels in preparation for the shipment shortages. Lenovo, the largest PC vendor globally, recently warned that its stock had reached one-third of normal levels due to the pandemic and more people working from home.
Potentially making laptop availability even worse are cryptocurrency miners buying up RTX Ampere devices to avoid dealing with the graphics card drought, which is expected to worsen.
The report should be taken with a pinch of salt, especially as DigiTimes recently predicted that high demand stemming from the pandemic would see laptop shipments fall by just 10 percent in Q1 rather than the usual 15 – 25 percent. With countermeasures in place to combat the component shortages, shipments might not slump too badly.