American consumers have become used to falling TV prices. A 42” plasma TV that sold for $10,000 in 1999, can now be had for well under $1,000, but the recent disaster in Japan may reverse this trend, Already, the turmoil in Japan is threatening disruptions in the flow of products and parts used to manufacture everything from Apple iPads to Sony televisions.
Japan makes 35 – 40% of the world’s flash memory chips, and 60% of the world’s silicon, used in semiconductor chips and LCD panels. Though most Japanese electronics factories were not heavily damaged by the earthquake or tsunami, they have uneven electricity supply and major logistic problems. Factories in the affected regions have been shut down, and could be offline for up to four weeks in some cases. Sony has shut down or cut back production at eight plants while it surveys the damage. Several ports are out of commission forcing some vendors to switch to air, which is a lot more expensive. Such fears have led to a 10% spike in the short-term prices for certain consumer electronics components.
If you are planning on purchasing home entertainment equipment don’t wait until the summer, because some models may not be available, and the ones that are may be more expensive.