Heavy monsoon rains in Thailand have led to the worst flooding the country has seen in the past fifty years. The natural disaster is already having a significant impact on hard disk drive pricing in Canada.

Prices of some hard drives in this country have almost doubled in recent weeks while the price of computers are also expected to rise as PC manufacturers have to start building computers with more expensive drives.

According to a new International Data Corporation (IDC) report, operations have been disrupted at more than a dozen hard disk drive (HDD) factories and damage to the HDD industry is extensive.

In the first half of this year, Thailand accounted for 40-45% of worldwide HDD production. At the beginning of this month, nearly half of this capacity was directly impacted by the flooding. In addition to assembly and component facilities being inundated with water, the industry faces work stoppages due to poor access and power outages.

Western Digital Corp. has extensive operations in Thailand and appears to be the worst affected of the HDD manufacturers. Seagate facilities have not been affected by flooding but the company is still affected due to the fact that some of the parts used in hard drive production are also manufactured in Thailand.

IDC says the full extent of the damage to HDD industry factories will not be known until the floodwaters recede but it expects shortages will continue well into the first quarter of 2012. The result is HDD prices are expected to remain high until the second half of next year.

In addition, the researchers says total computer shipments could be down by more than 20% in the first quarter of next year as manufacturers struggle to get enough drives.

"The HDD shortage will affect smaller PC vendors and lower priced products most, including mininotebooks (aka netbooks), emerging markets and entry-level consumer PCs. However, even the largest vendors are expected to face HDD shortages, particularly for portable PCs where the market is more consolidated," added Loren Loverde, program vice president, IDC Worldwide Consumer Device Trackers.

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