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PC industry faces laptop battery shortage

27 марта 2008

A shortage of notebook computer batteries is slowing growth in the emerging market segment for ultra low-cost notebook computers and ultra-mobile personal computers, industry sources and analysts said on Wednesday.

Following a fire at a plant of LG Chemical, the South Korean battery cell maker, supplies are expected to fall short of demand from battery pack makers, notebook assemblers and notebook vendors at least until June and probably well into the third quarter of this year, said Chris Wei, an analyst at the Market Intelligence Center, an industry think-tank in Taipei.

PC industry faces laptop battery shortageThe production lines affected at LG Chemical were involved in making battery cells used in laptops.

“To cope with the shortage, computer companies are going to assign the capacity they can get to higher-priced products in order to minimise the impact on their revenue and margins,” said Mr Wei.

Asustek, the Taiwanese computer company, is already feeling the pinch. The company received a boost to its own-brand sales following the launch last year of the EeePC, the first ultra low-cost notebook sold through commercial channels worldwide. But it now expects to miss its shipment target of 1m EeePCs for the first quarter by more than 300,000 units, a source close to the company said.

Low-cost and ultra-mobile products to be launched by other PC vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest vendor by shipments, and Acer, which ranks number three, could also be hit, said Alvin Kwock, an analyst at JP Morgan in Hong Kong.

“Since HP products for the consumer market account for more than 50 per cent of LG Chem’s shipments, HP consumer is likely to be hardest-hit,” Mr Kwock said.

HP was not immediately available for comment on Wednesday.

It has said it plans to launch its own ultra low-cost model in May or June. Acer intends to bring a similar product to market.

While the companies are unlikely to delay the official launch dates, they might choose to ship the products slowly while the battery shortage lasts, an executive at a Taiwanese notebook contract manufacturer said. The comments come after Dell, the world’s second-largest PC company, said on Tuesday that the shortage was affecting prices of its replacement battery packs.

“Judging from the experience following a similar fire at a Panasonic plant last year, it might take five to six months after full capacity at LG Chem is restored,” said Mr Wei.

LG Chem downplayed the impact of the fire, saying it was running other factories at full capacity to meet demand.

Источник: Financial Times

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