Australian PC assemblers could face severe hard drive shortages in the last quarter of this year as a result of dramatic cutbacks in global production over the last 12 months.
Phillip Adams, director of Australian operations for Maxtor Disc Drives, said the worldwide supply of IDE desktop hard drives has been in decline through 1998.
He said Q4 is traditionally "a major build quarter" for large northern hemisphere PC manufacturers and they will be allocated most of the quarter's production.
"There is going to be a very bad allocation period for Australian customers across the board in Q4," said Adams.
"We hit October last year with a huge oversupply and price erosion situation," Adams continued. "As a result, there has been a culture developing in Australian marketplaces over the last 12 months that you never commit yourself because prices will continue to drop.
"This is not going to continue and that's going to scare the living daylights out of a lot of assemblers. Availability is going to be tight at the market sweet spots and you will see a big allocation period this quarter.
Timothy Strachan, national PC sales manager for assembler Total Peripherals Group, said he would not be surprised if there was a shortage of hard drives as they are in high demand at the consumer level.
"The computer industry is notorious for having a shortage of one component or another at any time. There always seems to be something in short supply - whether it be memory, monitor tubes, hard drives or CPUs."
Maree Lowe, director of OEM assembler Anabelle Bits, said two of her suppliers - Seagate and Fujitsu - had indicated they would be going into allocation during Q4. She said it is a crucial issue and one that assemblers have to be very careful about.
"If suppliers are going into an allocation period it definitely affects us," said Lowe.
Jack Zhong, managing director of TodayTech, agreed there has been some shortage of popular drives from the two suppliers he uses.