Thai Floods Disrupt Computer Hard Drive Supply

Before you go shopping for a new computer this weekend consider this: Hard drive prices are going up. It's the result of the floods in Thailand, which produces about 45 percent of the world's hard drives. Many Thai factories have been crippled by the natural disaster.

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NPR's Business News starts with rising computer prices. A component used to make computers has become more expensive. The reason why, is around the world in Southeast Asia. NPR's Wendy Kaufman reports.

WENDY KAUFMAN, BYLINE: Thailand has been devastated by the worst floods in more than half a century. The death toll exceeds 600, and the economic impact has been severe. The country is a major producer of computer hard drives that has been making about 45 percent of the world's supply. But production and the supply chain have been badly disrupted, and with fewer hard drives being produced, prices are going up.

Hard drives represent about seven to ten percent of the wholesale cost of a computer. Some small computer makers are already increasing the price consumers will pay. Loren Loverde, an analyst at IDC, suggests that other PC makers may choose to install smaller hard drives or lower quality graphics processors in order to avoid raising prices. So here's Loverde's advice. If you need an external hard drive right now, spend the extra money and buy it. Ditto for a PC.

LOREN LOVERDE: But if you don't need a PC right away, you may be able to get a more capable, even more affordable system, in the middle or late part of 2012.

KAUFMAN: By then, production of hard drives should be back to normal. What's more, Loverde says Microsoft is expected to release a new operating system in the middle of next year, and computer makers are trying to build more tablet-like features into their PCs. Wendy Kaufman, NPR News.

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