Computer Chips Are in Short Supply. Here’s What That Means for You.

Have you heard ominous reports about the computer chip shortage? Computer chips or, as they’re properly named, “semiconductors,” are the tiny chips powering nearly everything we rely on these days. The problem is that there is a global shortage of these chips – and some experts predict that this shortage will continue for the next two years. 

 Read on to find out more about the shortage, learn how this affects you, and discover how Interplay is working to help your business get necessary tech tools. 

TL;DR: Computer chips are in smartphones, laptops, microwaves, washers, cars, farming equipment, and more. A shortage of these chips impacts your business by lengthening wait times on new IT equipment to 4-6 weeks or longer. Learn more. 

What’s the Deal with the Computer Chip Shortage?

Semiconductors are used in so many things these days: smartphones, laptops, iPads, cars, farm equipment, microwaves, washing machines, TVs, and pretty much everything else electronic that you can think of. When chips are scarce, electronics can be hard to purchase or repair.  

Even non-electronic goods use semiconductors in their manufacturing processes, so this chip apocalypse may end up looking like “Mad Max” if it goes on long enough. (Americans’ supply of cigarettes and booze may be threatened by manufacturing delays?! NOOOOOO!!) 

Okay, we’re joking about the cigarettes and booze thing. As far as we’ve heard (and we’ve got an ear out!), no one is threatening supply chain shortages on these items (yet). Instead, the experts are saying that electronics may be in short supply for potentially the next two years. 

It’s a computer chip apocalypse, or, as we like to call it, the “chip-ocalypse.” (We totally just made that up.)

Why We’re Seeing a Computer Chip Apocalypse Right Now

Here’s why this is happening: During global lockdowns, people purchased new WFH computers, remote schooling iPads, ovens and washing machines, and cars. To alleviate lockdown boredom, people also bought new gaming consoles and TVs. Demand was up. Way up. 

Right now, the perfect storm of supply and demand is hitting because the last year led to reduced manufacturing capabilities around the globe while demand was skyrocketing. At the same time, China imported a stockpile of chips in anticipation of US sanctions. (But, as of the time of this writing, there’s no evidence that China stockpiled cigarettes or booze. Whew!) 

The results of this perfect storm are pretty ugly (almost as ugly as those toilet paper shortages last year). Here’s an idea of how bad it’s getting in 2021: 

  • General Motors shut down three of their North American plants due to chip shortages (cars take 1,500-3,000 chips per car)
  • BMW stopped production of Minis in the UK because they didn’t have chips either
  • Farmers who use high-tech milking equipment to milk cows (i.e. most of them) may see cost increases due to chip shortages (according to Forrester) 

And, of course, your business may have some serious trouble getting its hands on important computer equipment. 

How the Chip-ocalypse Affects Your Business

(We’re pretty proud of the chip-ocalypse thing. Can you tell?) 

Okay, back to facts: 

  • According to the tech experts at ZDNet, the PC industry has been facing part and component shortages for more than a year now. Panels, integrated circuit boards, and semiconductors have all seen shortages. 
  • The BBC reports that Samsung may skip launching a new Galaxy Note this year and that global smartphone production could reduce by 5% in the second half of 2021.
  • An NPR interview states that Apple’s waiting times have been in the three-month range for new electronics, and that waiting times could negatively impact their sales by $4 billion. 

Since businesses typically buy multiple tech products all at once for their offices or employees, the increasing shortages and wait times are disproportionately affecting business leaders. Since there are a lot of behemoth tech businesses here in Seattle, this issue may even be disproportionately affecting smaller businesses here in the city specifically. 

Historically, computer and electronic sales tend to go up in Q3 and Q4 because of Back to School and holiday shopping, so pretty much everyone in the tech industry thinks this problem is about to get a whole lot worse for your business. 

How Interplay Is Helping Your Business Solve Computer Chip Shortage 2021

The computer chip shortage has decimated supply for workstations, laptops, monitors, processors, and networking equipment and, as everyone returns to the office, demand is only going up. 

This means that prices are going up, ship times are getting a lot longer, and the effort that it takes for us here at Interplay to track down necessary IT equipment for you literally takes about ten times longer than it used to. 

We want you to know: 

We’re still here for you. And we’re still more than happy to take care of all your computer and other IT equipment procurement… but it will take us a little longer to handle stuff than it used to. 

As the Research Vice President at Gartner stated recently, “Plan ahead, don’t expect to be able to buy or order something and get it immediately, look for alternate suppliers and products, be prepared to take higher- or lower-spec products if the one you wanted is not available.” 

Our advice is the same. To ensure that you receive computer and IT equipment in a reasonable timeframe, please try to give us four-to-six weeks’ notice for any orders we place on your behalf. Some items, such as custom configurations, may take much longer. This is not a concrete rule, it is rather a guideline to let you know that there may be challenges in getting you what you need as fast as you’re used to getting it. 

During this time, know that we are working hard for you. We are diligently staying on top of all your orders and communicating frequently with our tech partners on your behalf… but this is a tough situation that we all have to deal with right now. (Fortunately, it’s less tough than running completely out of toilet paper – and you won’t have to worry about cigarette and booze shortages in the meantime, thank goodness!) 

Reach out as soon as you have questions. We’re always here for you. 

For 20 years, the friendly and knowledgeable IT team at Interplay has helped business leaders across a range of industries get more out of their tech, stress free. Not only are we always (and we mean always) happy to offer the best managed IT services, support, and advice, we’re also the team you can trust for the best cocktail recommendations here in Seattle or in Disney World – we’re versatile! All humor aside though, we’d love to help you get your IT running smoothly and securely, around the clock.