Photo © smemon87
Consumer electronics made in Japan are set to become very expensive or even entirely unavailable as manufacturers struggle to cope with the tsunami’s aftermath. While most plants have sustained little damage, continuing aftershocks make it difficult for businesses to assess the true extent of the impact. The greater challenge to continued production is not infrastructural damage, but the country’s loss of a sustained supply of electricity.
The folks at Engadget report that Sony, Canon, and Panasonic are among the major consumer electronics manufacturers affected by the devastating destruction in Japan. Along with Mitsubishi and other firms, they have pledged millions of dollars in cash, equipment, and services to help the country and its residents get back on track.
In the meantime, tech consumers are certain to see the squeeze on their wallets. Prices for 32-gigabit NAND flash memory rose 18 percent after Toshiba suspended operations at a chip plant in the Iwate Prefecture. The country manufacturers roughly 40% of the world’s NAND flash. Prices of CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, lithium-ion rechargeable batteries, and optical films are also expected to rise as Sony was forced to shut down eight of its manufacturing plants.
Panasonic, Fujifilm, Nikon, and Canon have also temporarily closed facilities. Canon’s factories that produce interchangeable lenses and inkjet cartridges for printers could be offline for weeks if Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) is unable to stabilize power supplies. Delivery of necessary raw materials depends on the country’s massive transportation grid, which has been compromised by a 27% loss of electricity supply. More than an inconvenience to consumers, these are losses that will ripple unhappily through the Japanese populace.