Japanese earthquake still affecting consumer electronics

Over a month after a massive 8.9 earthquake shook northern Japan, the country’s consumer electronics industry is still feeling the effects.

Companies like Sony and Panasonic reported myriad issues — from facility flooding caused by the subsequent tsunami to injured workers — soon after the quake. Analysts predicted higher prices and supply shortages would also hit manufacturers, with the impact trickling down to consumers in the weeks to come.

Two new reports from research company IHS are splitting the difference – projecting falling prices for one consumer electronics sector, and a production shortage due to impeded supply for another.

Japanese earthquake still affecting consumer electronics
Source: IHS

In a report focused on LCD panel production in Japan, IHS professed that the earthquake and following tsunami seem to have had little impact, citing declining prices among the technology’s myriad applications.

Overall prices of TV, notebook and computer monitor LCD displays are set to drop .5% says the forecast, though TV panels are the only sector to see an actual drop-off (of .8%); both monitors and notebook displays rose .4% and .2%, respectively.

Stacy Wu, IHS’ senior displays research analyst, said, “The slight decrease overall in large-LCD panel pricing shows that the segment has not yet suffered major impacts from the Japanese disaster. Despite materials plants being shut down immediately after the quake, many manufacturing lines have recovered and production has returned.”

That’s not to say everything is guaranteed roses and rainbows, however.

“If assorted troubles—including the power outages now plaguing the country—continue and become prolonged, demand for panels may suffer, causing suppliers more difficulties,” warned Wu.

The research indicates an abundance of stock and limited consumer interest helped cause the overall drop.

Pamela Tufegdzic, another analyst at IHS, filed a study that alleges complications from last month’s deadly earthquake will hinder the production and delivery of CMOS image sensors for cell phones. However, these specific sensors are mainly included in phones whose camera functionality are secondary, notes Tufegdzic. As a result, this disruption should only be limited to those lines of cell phones.

Charge coupled device (or CCD) production will remain “unaffected, at least for the near term” according to the report. CCD technology is typically higher-end when compared to CMOS.

We’ll have more news and research on the continuing effects of the Japanese earthquake on the technology and consumer electronics sectors as it becomes available.