In this brutal market for solar power products, no one is being spared. Even First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR), the thin-film darling, said back in February that its short-term outlook "has never looked more difficult."

Applied Materials (NASDAQ:AMAT), whose thin-film solar manufacturing equipment enables producers to compete with incumbents like First Solar and Energy Conversion Devices (NASDAQ:ENER), has minced no words about its vulnerability. On its fourth-quarter conference call, the firm noted that a number of solar customers were "experiencing financing issues." The company also prepared investors for a gap in order flow, seeing as the clammed-up credit markets have made project financing pretty much a non-starter for aspiring solar panel providers.

The seriousness of the situation definitely sank in yesterday, with the company announcing that its $1.9 billion sales agreement with an unnamed private company has been slashed to $250 million. That represents a reduction of roughly 87%. Even under the amended agreement, no orders have been recognized to date.

For close to a year, Applied's mystery buyer has been rumored to be Best Solar, a thin-film startup venture by one Mr. Peng of LDK Solar (NYSE:LDK) fame. When the can't-do customer will be unmasked in Scooby-like fashion, I have no idea. I can only imagine that Applied is feeling at least a twinge of regret about relying on new entrants to propel its promising thin-film business.

Fortunately, Applied Materials has managed to get some good press out of its SunFab rollouts. There was the recent ramp-up of a manufacturing line by Chinese customer ENN, for example. Still, the fact that the equipment works is little consolation in the face of an order backlog with very little visibility at present.

Fool contributor Toby Shute doesn't have a position in any company mentioned. Check out his CAPS profile or follow his articles using Twitter or RSS. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.