Business, Finance & Economics

Thai floods, pricier MacBooks?


This aerial picture shows a general view of a flooded industrial estate outside the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya, north of Bangkok on October 11, 2011. Massive floods have left 500 people dead across Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, officials said, as authorities stepped up efforts to reach victims of the unusually heavy monsoon rains.


Christophe Archambault

Destructive floods in Thailand aren't just drowning homes and forcing families to flee on inflatable rafts.

They're also deluging factories that Apple and PC makers rely on to provide components that are later assembled elsewhere, namely China.

Large plants that turn out disk drives remain underwater. That could very likely cause shortfalls in the available disk drives, potentially affecting companies from Dell to Hewlett-Packard to Apple, according to Forbes.

Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has already said that he's "virtually certain there will be an overall industry shortage of disk drives," according to the Associated Press.

As the AP notes, that will likely pose problems for Mac production and could cause price increases.

The iPhone and iPad shall be spared, however. Both use flash memory, not disk drives.

Much of the Thai government's flood prevention efforts have been focused on saving these sprawling industrial estates, many of them located in outer Bangkok or surrounding provinces. As waters encroached on one of the largest, called Nava Nakorn, the factory's own workers scrambled to pile up enough sandbags to spare the plant and their jobs.

But the flood broke through their defenses, forcing Thailand's military to evacuate panicked residents and factory workers.