Words fail. Disaster, devastation, catastrophe; nothing seems adequate to describe the situation in northern Japan. The triple whammy of earthquake, tsunami, and electrical power plant failures has resulted in the loss of tens of thousands of lives and untold billions in damages. No doubt, it will be weeks or months or even years before the magnitude of the losses can be tallied.
But already the consumer electronics industry is marking the impact of the events, which may have far-reaching impacts on all companies involved. For example, Sony reportedly has six manufacturing plants in the stricken area, all of which have been shut down. Factories in the region make everything from lasers used in Blu-ray players to Flash memory chips. Production will be disrupted, which in turn will have an effect on products farther down the supply chain. Component shortages could easily lead to higher prices for the finished products, even for companies that were not directly affected by the disaster. And if Japan’s electrical grid remains crippled for an extended period of time, the disruption of the supply chains could be lengthy and significant.
It’s too soon to tell where the greatest impact will be felt, but you may not want to wait until next fall if you’re thinking about buying electronics products. If you see a deal on a consumer electronics product that you want at a price that is right for you, know that we no longer can be certain that prices will continue to fall as they have in recent years.