There was a fire in LG Chem's plant in South Korea in March of this year. "So what?" you might ask. Well, that plant makes lithium-ion batteries, and that's helping to limit the supply of laptop computers.
"I think maybe the battery shortage may hurt every brand," said J.T. Wang, chairman of Acer, at the company's investor conference two weeks ago.
But the head of the world's largest independent notebook battery maker, Simplo Technology, said he expects the lithium-ion supply to return to normal in the third quarter and allow battery makers to substantially increase production.
"The LG Chem problem has had a big impact on supplies, but we're working with customers and they understand," said Sung Fu-hsang, chairman of Simplo, at the company's first quarter investors' conference on Friday.
The laptop market is where all the action is right now, so a third-quarter rebound in supplies for laptop batteries would be good news. Remember, students often purchase laptops in the fall to attend school, and right after that is the holiday gift season. Computer makers don't often raise prices when demand outstrips supply. The poor shutout shoppers just wander the earth, clutching their raincheck forms, waiting for the batteries that smell like barbeque to arrive and restock the shelves.