Global chip shortage could cut Christmas

A gamer plays on Sony’s Playstation 5 console at his home in Seoul.

Yelim Lee | AFP via Getty Images

Global chip shortages have been rampant this year and haven’t gone away.

But what does that mean for Christmas? Will some gifts be harder to hold or more expensive?

That depends on what you’re after and how late you’re away from Christmas shopping.

Semiconductors lie beneath the covers of more and more products – from cars and e-bikes to washing machines and toothbrushes. Many of these chips are in short supply as the Covid pandemic has resulted in supply chain bottlenecks and increased demand.

Alan Priestley, a semiconductor analyst at research firm Gartner, told CNBC that the chip shortage is bound to have some impact by Christmas.

“We may find that some things that were available in the past may no longer be available,” he said, adding that it is no longer possible to find instant gratification from services. usual shopping. “We’re all used to Amazon Prime: push the button, it’ll be there in 24 hours. Maybe now you have to wait two or three weeks.”

Many electronic products today contain a large number of chips.

“The problem we face is that things that are made of chips don’t just use a single chip,” Priestley said. “New smartphones have many, many power control chips, and those are the chips that are in short supply.”

TSMC, Samsung and Intel, the semiconductor industry heavyweights, are not focused on making these older, less advanced power management chips because they can make more money selling more innovative versions .

According to Glenn O’Donnell, Vice President and Director of Research at analytics firm Forrester, semiconductor-rich products such as computers, smartphones and game consoles could be a popular Christmas present. variable, but there are availability issues.

Sony’s PS5 and Microsoft’s For example, Xbox Series S is not widely available, By Google Pixel 6 Pro smartphone.

“If you can get them, you’re paying a high premium,” O’Donnell told CNBC.

“I believe supply issues including but not limited to semiconductors will cause a lot of trouble this season,” he added. “If you don’t have the things you want to put under the tree, you might be in luck. Even Santa himself can’t deliver.”

Berlin-based Jack de Santis, CEO of repair service Rebel Technology Labs, told CNBC he’s been looking for a Google Pixel 6 Pro “everywhere” – but to no avail. He’s not sure if he’ll continue using the old phone or buy the regular Pixel 6, which is still available in a few places. “Both options are compromises that I’m not happy with,” he said.

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Don’t hesitate and be flexible

Shoppers should consider buying electronics that are already in stock and available sooner rather than later, Priestley warns.

“If it’s there and available, buy it,” he said. “The problem is that supply lines are widened. When goods in current supply are consumed, it takes longer to replace them.”

Consumers who can be flexible in certain purchases may also have more luck. For example, PCs come in many different configurations, and the central processing unit (CPU) can often be changed.

“It is possible that your desired configuration is not available, but there is another configuration,” Priestley said. “Consider alternatives.”


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