The Japanese tech industry at a standstill (video)
The impact on supply and prices as Japanese manufacturers halt electronics production.
Kara Tsuboi has covered technology news for CNET and CBS Interactive for nearly seven years. From cutting edge robotics at NASA to the hottest TVs at CES to Apple events in San Francisco, Kara has reported on it all. In addition to daily news, twice every week her "Tech Minutes" are broadcast to CBS TV stations across the country.
As our CNET/CBSi video team was brainstorming story ideas this week, several came to mind. How about a piece on bloggers and paid content? Maybe recycled surfboards? Or what about that little thing called the iPad 2? In our news meetings with CBS, however, we quickly realized that none of that matters right now and the only story we should be focusing on is the devastation in Japan.
We've already explored several technology angles: social-media sites connecting loved ones, and Americans texting their donations, for isntance. But what about all of the Japanese technology companies and the impact the earthquake and tsunami have had on them? I started researching well-known companies and found that they all had media releases on their Web site on this topic. Sony, for example, was forced to shut down six factories.
To develop our story, we interviewed CNET Senior Writer Erica Ogg since she covers consumer electronics and has spent a lot of time visiting with different companies in Japan. After speaking with her contacts within the country, she learned that many of these factories had not been closed due to damage from the earthquake or flooding, but rather because it's become too difficult to transport employees into the facilities. Not to mention, rolling blackouts have made continuous work nearly impossible.
The real question that has yet to be answered is whether or not this suspension in production will have a long-term impact on manufacturers' supplies. And as the economic laws go, if there's a scarcity in goods, demand increases, driving prices right up. According to Ogg and Jill Schlesinger, editor-at-large for CBS Moneywatch.com, American consumers may not see these price increases anytime soon, but they could later this year around back-to-school or the holiday shopping time as the long-term effects of supply chain disruptions sink in.
Watch this: As supplies in Japan dwindle, prices may increase