Sony’s PlayStation 5 console remains in short supply a year after it first went on sale, with restockings selling out instantly as second-largest retailers make them available.
While major next-gen consoles from Sony and Microsoft continue to garner great interest, the PS5 and Xbox Series X and S are harder to find than any of their predecessors due to a number of factors.
Semiconductors are thin on the ground
The first and most important element is the global semiconductor shortage, which has been booming since the pandemic began last year.
Semiconductors, often simply referred to as chips, are the “brains of electronic devices and are found in everything from smartphones, cars, and microwaves to smart toys, game consoles, and washing machines.”
The demand for chips increased sharply in 2020 as individuals and businesses rushed to buy new computers, laptops, tablets, phones and other devices for working, learning and administering healthcare remotely during downtime. the pandemic.
This situation was exacerbated by a shortage of silicon, copper and zinc, causing prices to rise.
At the same time, manufacturing plants used by companies like Apple have been forced to shut down and halt production of devices amid supply chain disruption.
As factories have reopened, demand for devices and cars is still high as economies recover from the pandemic, leaving the industry struggling to cope.
Demand for semiconductors is at an all-time high, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, which estimates that more than a billion chips will be sold in 2021 – the highest total on record.
Therefore, companies such as Taiwanese chipmaking giant TSMC, Sony, Samsung and Intel have announced plans to build new factories in Japan and Europe to diversify their supply chains and guard against future crises. , although the factories are unlikely to be operational for several years.
Shipping nightmares and fallout from trade deals
Disruptions in ports and long delays in transporting goods by container ships have forced ships to wait offshore across the world. Many ports lack workers to unload them, a situation made worse by the lack of truck drivers to transport them.
Felixstowe, Britain’s largest container port, faces a backlog of containers amid fewer heavy truck drivers.
Sony has reportedly started shipping pallets of PS5s to London from China via South Korea to deliver the consoles in higher volumes before Christmas.
After the Australian government called for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, Beijing imposed an unofficial ban on imports of coal from Australia. This had a ripple effect on China’s energy supply – and, in turn, on silicon production.
Former US President Donald Trump’s trade sanctions against China led to the blacklisting of China’s largest semiconductor maker, the partially state-owned Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, to purchase key components from the United States, putting additional pressure on TSMC and Samsung.
Disasters hit factories
A major auto chip factory owned by Renesas Electronics Corp in Japan caught fire in March this year. A major drought in Taiwan has hampered the ability of factories across the country to produce chip wafers in their usual quantities.
When will the crisis be resolved?
Experts predict that while the chip crunch will last until at least 2023, it will decrease in severity.
“We are in the worst now; every quarter of next year we will gradually improve, but they will not have a supply-demand balance until 2023, ”Pat Gelsinger, general manager of Intel, said last month.
Ola Källenius, chairman of German automaker Daimler, also predicted that the shortages will last into 2023, but hopefully not at the current level of intensity, while Bosch vice president for China Jiang Jian predicts. also that supply will remain low throughout 2022.
In the meantime, it’s worth keeping a close watch on your favorite retailer’s website for the new PS5 stock as Christmas approaches.