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Apple’s MacBook Air Shines Amid Global HDD Shortage

Posted by zduncan | Posted in Computer | Posted on 06-12-2011

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2011 MacBook AirA global shortage of traditional, spinning hard disk drives (HDDs) has, coincidentally, come at a time when Apple’s flash-based solid-state MacBook Air is one of Apple’s most popular products. The large success of the redesigned netbook has come with “fortuitous timing” in the face of HDD shortages according to Evercore analyst Rob Chira. Chira believes that Apple is largely insulated from the ongoing component constraints that were caused by flooding in Thailand.

The MacBook Air only features NAND flash for storage, primarily relying on solid-state hard drives as opposed to the more traditional spinning hard disks. NAND memory has been completely unaffected by the floods in Thailand, events that have since put over 600,000 people out of work.

In addition to his previous statement, Chira also believes that the ongoing hard-drive shortage will create an influx of MacBook Air copycat Windows-based devices also using solid-state drives in 2012. Specifically, Chira sees PC makers gravitating towards Intel’s ultrabook design specification, which aims to capitalize on the popularity of Apple’s thin-and-light MacBook Air concept.

However, Chira expects Apple to counter this by refreshing its Air lineup in the first half of 2012 and also believes that Apple’s hoard of money will also allow it to leverage “some unique NAND engineering/supply vs. vanilla (solid-state drives).”

Recent rumors have also hinted at the possibility of Apple adding a 15″ model to its MacBook Air lineup in the early parts of 2012 and that the company is supposedly looking to expand its lineup as the ultraportable notebooks now represent 28% of Apple’s notebook shipments.

As far as Chira is concerned, Apple is in a strong position concerning Macs featuring traditional hard drives as well. He believes that Apple was the fastest hardware maker to react with hard-drive suppliers, putting the company in an advantageous position in the chain of supply.

This opinion also comes a matter of days after AppleInsider reported that build-to-order iMacs with 2TB hard drives had an estimated shipping time of 5 to 7 weeks. The shortage of high-capacity drives for Apple’s all-in-one machine could also be the first sign that the company is indeed being hit by the global shortage as well.

Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, recently expressed concern about the hard drive shortage during his company’s quarterly earnings conference back in October. While Cook was “certain” there would be an industry-wide shortage of hard-disk drives, Cook said he was “not sure” at the time of exactly how the situation would affect Apple.

Source: Apple Insider – Apple’s MacBook Air has ‘fortuitous timing’ in face of hard drive shortage

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