Now that the new iPad is here and everyone and his brother is salivating to buy one, there is much talk about how Apple
New iPads aside, there have been a few developments in the computer and gadget world that could very well increase Apple's market share over the next several months.
Component costs for computers are rising
According to Barron's, the disastrous floods in Thailand last year caused a shutdown of the factories producing hard disk drives, which most computer makers still use. The resultant shortage is driving prices up, and to add insult to injury, DRAM prices are rising as well. Already, prices for this common memory-storage component were up 7% from the beginning of the year, and now it looks as if they might jump even higher. Elpida, a major manufacturer of these devices, recently declared bankruptcy, putting supply lines in jeopardy. Analysts predict that prices may rise up to 15% this year if the plant's production is affected.
Why will these increases in tech components be a mere blip on the screen for Apple? The big factor here is that as these other parts are rising in cost and scarcity, there is a commensurate glut in NAND flash memory, which is the secret ingredient that will put Apple in the driver's seat in the months to come. Forward-thinking bunch that they are, R&D teams at Apple replaced hard drives long ago in favor of flash, regardless of cost. Now, they will reap the rewards.
Labor costs in China are rising, too
Recent pressure concerning wages and working conditions at factories in China, where most computers and other electronic devices are manufactured, has resulted in better working conditions and higher pay for those workers. In addition to Apple, other companies such as Hewlett-Packard
Doubtless all, except perhaps Apple, will eventually do so -- particularly Nokia, whose margins on smartphones are notoriously slim. Officials at HP and Dell, for their part, are making no promises either way; both have experienced decreases in profit over the past year, however. Apple, with its much plumper profit margins, could actually choose to absorb the cost. Of course, since it seems that zealous customers will pay just about any price to have the latest and greatest from Apple, that may not be necessary.
Reduced price on iPad2 will upset the tablet market
Apple's decision to offer the iPad 2 at $399 could conceivably give Amazon.com's
Depending on what Apple decides to do about raising prices, there could be a narrower price gap between a new HP or Dell device and an Apple. Although price never seems to be an object with Cupertino's loyal following, even a smidge of a price increase on HP's and Dell's part could make a buyer think twice about what an Apple might have to offer, for a fistful of dollars more. Then again, Apple just may decide to eat the cost increases, considering the enormous $97.6 billion cushion it sits upon. Either way, it looks like gloomy days ahead for the rivals of Cupertino.
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Fool contributor Amanda Alix owns no shares in the companies mentioned above.
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