SAN FRANCISCO—Market research firm IHS iSuppli Thursday (Dec. 8) cut its PC market forecast for 2012, citing hard disk drive (HDD) shortages triggered by rampant flooding in Thailand earlier this year.
Total PC unit shipments are expected to grow by 6.8 percent in 2012, reaching 376 million. The firm had previously forecast that PC shipments would grow 9.5 percent in 2012, reaching 399 million.
IHS said the HDD shortages caused by damage and closures to HDD and component production facilities will result in a 3.8-million unit shortfall in the first quarter of 2012. First quarter shipments are projected to amount to 84.2 million units, down from an earlier IHS forecast of 88 million units.
First quarter PC shipments are forecast to decline 11.6 percent from the projected total for the fourth quarter of 2011, 95.3 million units, IHS said. While PC shipments typically decrease in the first quarter compared to the peak holiday-selling season in the fourth quarter, the drop in 2012 will be far sharper than the 6 percent historical average decline, IHS projects.
The bulk in reduction in shipments will be in the notebook space, which is the area impacted by the HDD shortage, IHS said. Notebook PC shipments in 2012 now are expected to rise by 10.1 percent, down from the previous forecast of 13.8 percent growth, the firm said.
“The PC supply chain says it has sufficient HDD inventory for the fourth quarter of 2011," said Matthew Wilkins, senior principal analyst of compute platforms for IHS, in a statement. "However, those stockpiles will run out in the first quarter of 2012, impacting PC production during that period."
IHS said it expects the HDD supply situation to begin to improve in the first quarter of 2012. But it will take time to replenish the supply chain, the firm warned. Overall HDD supply is not expected to be sufficient to meet demand until the end of the third quarter of 2012, IHS said. Already, the major HDD suppliers have shifted production to locations outside of Thailand, which will help ease the shortage situation, IHS said.
PC shipments should rebound from the HDD shortage in the second half of 2012, IHS said. Still, total shipments for 2012 will fall short of previous expectations because of economic factors and rising competition from media tablets.
Ironically, the HDD market could face an inventory surplus by the end of 2012, after facilities in Thailand return to full production, according to IHS. When combined with the added production outside the country, the recovery in Thailand’s HDD operations could result in excess supply, according to the firm.