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Why Japan Disasters Are Bad For Tech Lovers and First Generation Adopters

As many may know by now, the disasters in Japan has led to the death of thousands of people and millions and perhaps billions of dollars in destruction.  Though the immediate effects of the disaster are very obvious, what many do not know are the long-term effects of the destruction and the nuclear disaster and the impact on Japanese culture and way of life.

Because our world is now a global economy, it is important to realize that the disasters impact is not isolated to Japan, but will be felt around the world.  Yes, the disasters are a horrific “one, two, three, punch” on the people of Japan, and I do not want to trivialize the effects on them, but, the impact will be felt around the world.

What is not immediately obvious to many of us is just how much influence these disasters thousands of miles away will have on determining the release or availability date of many everyday electronics.  For instance, according to MS-NBC, many major components in the new iPad2 are manufactured in Japan. At the time of the earthquake, the iPad2 was already on back order.  But, with our ability to mass produce, why can’t Apple and others quickly find someone else to reproduce parts made in Japan?

Well, besides the obvious issue of money, there are four other words that the American consumer should add: faster, smaller, efficient, and stylish.  If you look at the trend in electronic items over the past few decades, there has been a huge push to make items that faster, smaller and more efficient.  However, as we continue to push the envelope in these areas, that means fewer and fewer companies have the capability to manufacture these items.  Furthermore, this also leads to specialized components like ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) that must be developed.  This means that manufactures cannot simply buy off the shelf integrated circuits like they did decades ago when first generation computers were first introduced.

Furthermore, the manufacturing of stylish consumer electronics only adds to the dilemma. For example, to get another parts manufacturer to retool their factory to mass produce specialized enclosures for consumer items would be way to expensive.

So, if you are a first generation adopter or a tech lover, the word of the times is “patience”.  The electronic sector, as well of the people of Japan, will recover and things will be back to normal.  You just have to know that sometimes this is the price you have to pay for faster, smaller, more efficient, stylish and cheap products.

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