As a new year begins, some people plan a digital detox. It’s like fasting. But instead of not eating, you stop using your smartphone or other handheld devices for a while. You clear your mind and reclaim your time, say supporters.
Unfortunately, not every digital abstinence is voluntary. You may have noticed recent product launch delays of popular consumer electronics. These include gaming stations, cameras, laptops, and smartphones. Their availability has been slowed by a worldwide shortage of electronic components. Particularly semiconductors are in short supply.
Personal devices don’t run without these essential microchips, but neither do automobiles. Carmakers including Volkswagen, Audi, Ford, Honda, Daimler, Fiat Chrysler, Suzuki, Toyota – even Chinese brands GAC and Great Wall – are putting the brakes on vehicle production, largely as a result of a microchip crunch.
What’s causing the semiconductor shortage? Reasons include the COVID-19 pandemic, of course. But we can trace a series of seemingly unrelated events back through 2020. Each of these risks chips away at the supply-demand balance and lead to supply chain disruption.