Schenker (XMG), a European performance laptop supplier, has issued a press release that dims hopes for those eyeing upcoming performance-geared notebooks. Citing supply chain issues, COVID lockdowns, and escalating costs due to recent semiconductor manufacturing mishaps, it seems that the latest and greatest portable tech may even be at risk of delays.
“At the moment, we are receiving daily updates from our partners and suppliers regarding the postponement of delivery dates. Sometimes these delays amount to several weeks,” said Tom Fichtner, the Taiwan-based Senior Product Developer at XMG. “Although we were able to present our new XMG NEO 15 (E22) with OASIS liquid cooling at the beginning of the year and are still assuming availability from mid-March, other laptops such as the new XMG FUSION 16 or the revised XMG PRO series with Intel’s 12th Gen Core CPUs are still pending. At the moment, it is neither clear when these will be available, nor at what price – because the increasing component shortage and rising logistics costs make early costing and planning difficult.”
The company explicitly names products based on Intel’s latest Tiger Lake platform and GPU options concerning the latest Nvidia RTX 3000-series Ti-class graphics cards. Interestingly, there’s no mention of AMD’s Ryzen 6000-series or AMD GPU-equipped laptops; but that likely speaks more to Intel and Nvidia’s market share (and the resulting increased supply requirements for these parts) than of specific supply issues hitting both companies.
Especially concerning for the worldwide logistics and supply chain is the recent Omicron outbreak at Suzhou Industrial Park, eastern China, which led to a partial government-mandated shutdown (opens in new tab) last Tuesday in an attempt to break the infection chains. Bosch, United Electronics Corporation (UMC), Samsung, and other factories (including XMG partners Clevo and Uniwill). Some ultimately had to shutter production, while others are working at reduced capacity as companies attempt to manage the available workers across production facilities.
Another element of concern cited by Schenker regards the strain on logistics and transportation services, which it says are running at total capacity - prompting unexpected, crawling delays (opens in new tab) and directly impacting transportation prices. Paired with increased pricing for specific electronics components and raw materials, Schenker expects this year’s hardware prices to keep rising - at least when it comes to fully integrated, premium performance systems such as those the company manufactures. Schenker also mentions the falling-out of the chemical contamination at Western Digital and Kioxia’s Taiwanese factories. That particular accident led to around 6.5 Exabytes-worth of NAND chips being unusable - which we already knew would lead to increased SSD pricing in the near term.
In trying to understand the dimension of the problem, we’ve scoured the internet for reports from other laptop makers. Schenker (XMG) is a well-known player in the performance laptop segment, but its market share is relatively small compared to industry juggernauts such as Lenovo (24,1%), HP (21,7%), and Dell (17,4%). On the other hand, Schenker is part of the more minor players making up around 21.1% of the market, which could impact its power at the negotiating table for components and raw materials.
The most prominent industry players not only benefit from more significant benefits from economies of scale but are also more likely to have higher volumes of components that might allow them to better cope with emergent issues such as these. Perhaps that helps to explain why there hasn’t been a specific press release from other industry players, even though supply issues in the laptop space are a known quantity by now. However, none of them specifically mentioned the hardware pinpointed by Schenker in its press release. So it remains to be seen how these events will impact the laptop market - and how the damages will affect the suppliers.