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IPFS News Link • Technology: Computer Hardware

Global shortage in computer chips 'reaches crisis point'

• https://www.theguardian.com, Mark Sweney

Consumers are facing price rises and shortages of products from TVs and mobile phones to cars and games consoles as a global shortage in semiconductors grows.

The shortage in chips, the "brain" within every electronic device in the world, has been steadily worsening since last year.

Initially the problem was only a temporary delay in supplies as factories shut down when the coronavirus pandemic first hit.

However, although production is back to normal, a new surge in demand driven by changing habits fuelled by the pandemic means that it is now reaching crisis point.

Car manufacturers investing in tech-heavy electric vehicles, the boom in sales of TVs and home computers and launch of new games consoles and 5G-enabled mobile phones have all driven demand.

Even the mighty Apple, a $2tn company and the world's biggest buyer of semiconductors spending $58bn annually, was forced to delay the launch of the much-hyped iPhone 12 by two months last year due to the shortage.

"Chips are everything," says Neil Campling, media and tech analyst at Mirabaud. "There is a perfect storm of supply and demand factors going on here. But basically, there is a new level of demand that can't be kept up with, everyone is in crisis and it is getting worse."

Ford recently cancelled shifts at two car plants and said profits could be hit by up to $2.5bn this year due to chip shortages, while Nissan is idling output at plants in Mexico and the US. General Motors said it could face a $2bn profit hit.


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