Chip Shortages Loom Over Black Friday

Black Friday, Cyber Monday and likely the end-of-the year holiday shopping season all have a more prosaic tinge to them this year. Those lusting after electronic gadgets -- and even cars -- have learned to settle more for what they can get than what they want. The reason, of course: shortages of electronic components. From a report: Everyone has a story like my dentist, who told me that he'd given up trying to buy a new Audi after his car was totaled in an accident. The car he'd wanted to replace it with wasn't available, and even if it was, the dealers were adding $5,000 to the sticker price of new vehicles, he told me. He settled for a used model. Meanwhile at home, I'm several months into the wait for a docking station for my wife's work laptop. The consensus from the industry executives I speak to as a chip reporter is that at some point, most likely toward the middle of 2022, supply and demand will come into balance. Why has it taken so long? Building chip plants is very hard and very slow. Even if every chipmaker in the world started building a plant this time last year in response to rising demand, that effort would likely not have resulted in the manufacture of a single chip in time for Black Friday. It simply costs too much and takes too long to build manufacturing infrastructure, and then when you do, it takes three months for silicon to be made into the brains of your iPhone, or the sensor for your SUV that stops you from closing the tailgate on your head. Earlier this year Advanced Micro Devices Chief Executive Officer Lisa Su told Bloomberg's Emily Chang that the chip shortage wasn't a catastrophe and that the industry, which has seen boom and bust cycles before, would adjust output soon enough.

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