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Global Demand For Laptops, Network Gear, Chips Zooms

SEOUL/TOKYO: The growing number of work-from-homers across the globe is fuelling a huge surge in demand for laptops, network peripherals and supply-chain components such as chips. It’s probably also spurring large gains by food-delivery services.

Around the world, companies are said to be frantically building online offices as they try to maintain operations, with more employees working from home in a bid to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Many companies have withdrawn earlier earnings forecasts, anticipating a drop in consumer demand and a possible economic slump. But performance at electronics retailers and chipmakers is increasing, as those companies benefit from the shift in work culture.

The world’s biggest memory chip maker, Samsung Electronics, has reported a 20 percent jump in semiconductor exports, largely due to governments forcing more people to set up home offices linked to their company.


South Korean officials say cloud computing has bosted sales of server chips, while an increase in telecommuting in the US and China has also been a main driver of huge server demand.

In Japan, laptop maker Dynabook – part of what used to be called Toshiba – reported brisk demand, partly attributed to companies encouraging teleworking. 

Rival NEC said it has responded to demands with features such as more powerful embedded speakers.

Australian electronics retailers JB Hifi and Harvey Norman have also seen demand acceleration in recent weeks – from both commercial and retail customers. 

Both companies have recorded a surge in demand for products including powerful laptops, speakers and quarantine essentials such as fridges and freezers.

China is leading chip demand, as cloud service providers including Alibaba, Tencent and Baidu quickly respond to the government’s effort to contain the virus.

China’s cloud infrastructure build-up has pushed up chip prices, with spot prices of DRAM chips rising more than six percent since late February, according to price tracker DRAMeXchange.

UBS has forecast server chips rising around 10-20 percent in the next quarter.

One issue remains: supply disruptions. About 69 percent of electronics manufacturers have flagged possible supplier delays of up to three weeks, according to industry trade group IPC International. – Chris Castellari

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