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How the global semiconductor shortage affects our personal lives
As most of our readers know by now, there is a global chip shortage. A plethora of reasons are responsible for the current situation. First and foremost, the pandemic hindered production of semiconductors, due to all the lockdowns. During those lockdowns many consumers had to upgrade their computer setups to better suit working from home, which caused a spike in demand for PCs, Laptops, and accessories like webcams. After a short decline in sales, the demand for cars rose above expectations, because many people would rather take a car to get around instead of risking an infection on public transport. And as if this was not enough, disasters like an earthquake at Hitachinaka factory in February or the fire at Renesas in March furthermore decreased the production output of these foundries.



At the beginning of the year mostly industry insider reported about the issue, but in May even mainstream media like CNBC deemed the shortage newsworthy. This gave us the rather amusing headline “The global chip shortage is starting to have major real-world consequences”, making it seem like the previous ramifications only took place in the fantasy world of the semiconductor industry. We all know that we are not part of some imaginary business field and what the headline most likely meant is that consumers will also start to feel the effects of the shortage. All of us working at GreenChips are on one hand part of the semiconductor industry, but on the other hand also consumers in our personal life. Therefore, we thought to share how we and the people around us have been affected by this situation in everyday life.



A co-worker at F-Technologies told us, that he needed a second refrigerator, because the built-in one from his kitchen is too small. He searched the internet for a smaller fridge, but he could only find devices that were either huge and expensive or too small and still expensive. After a few weeks of constantly checking internet portals, he randomly found a fridge with the perfect measurements for a reasonable price while shopping at a mall. When he approached the salesperson, they told him that he can only buy the display model, because that is the only one left. It was such a lucky find that he immediately bought it as he did not want to wait any longer.



The last time I visited my grandmother, she proudly showed me her new washing machine, because the old one eventually broke down after 15 years of use and a handful of repairs. The mechanic of her trust helped her to find a new one, but he said that there are only three models in stock right now, which are probably sold by tomorrow and then he must wait five weeks for his next shipment. My grandma explained to him that all three of them are in her price-range and since he is the expert, he can bring over the model he thinks is most fitting for her and she will buy it. When she finished telling this story, she asked me: “How can it be that a business like this only has three washing machines in stock?” “The short answer is there are not more machines on the market right now, for the long answer you might want to make us a cup of coffee first,” was my reply. I think that telling her everything I knew about the semiconductor shortage also helped her to understand a bit more what the company does that her grandson works for.



And the most recent incident was yesterday. After my graduation I went for a drink with my friends from university to celebrate our achievement. I overheard a friend complaining that she went to the Apple store to buy a new iPad, but when she arrived, she did not see any on display. She asked the salesperson where the iPads were, but he just answered: “We don’t have any, you can still order them though, but you’ll have to wait at least six weeks until it arrives.” When another friend asked: “Why does the Apple store not have any iPads, I mean they’re the Apple store after all.” it was my time to shine, so I once again explained the shortage and various reasons for it. Once they heard my explanation it all made sense to them, but the salesperson could have clarified the situation at the store as well (that is a lesson about customer retention as well).



These are just three examples of the “real-world” consequences of the semiconductor shortage. I am also pretty sure that this will not be the last time that we have felt those effects, because it is going to take some time until this shortage is over. In the meantime keep in mind that patience is a virtue and considering what else is going on in the world, I’d rather have a semiconductor shortage, than a shortage in medical supplies.
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