Japan Earthquake Halts CE Production14 Mar, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Blu-ray Disc production reportedly affected by the disaster
As Japanese authorities and relief workers continue to search for victims of the March 11 earthquake and subsequent tsunami, with the country’s vibrant consumer electronics industry all but grinding to a halt.
Sony Electronics, Toshiba, Fujitsu and Panasonic shuttered numerous manufacturing facilities in regions near the quake, with other companies assessing further operations on a day-by-day basis.
Japan’s largest CE manufacturer — Sony — stopped production in 10 plants (including Blu-ray Disc facilities) and two research facilities due to damage. Toshiba shuttered five plants.
As would be expected, manufacturing facilities located in proximity to Sendai, the largest city from the quake’s epicenter, suffered the most damage with cellular phone service completely out in the region.
The Consumer Electronics Association issued a statement saying it remained concerned about the safety and well being of any employees of its member companies impacted by the tragedy and continued to monitor the situation.
Separately, Warner’s Japanese unit pulled the theatrical release of Clint Eastwood’s Hereafter, starring Matt Damon, Cecile De France and Bryce Dallas Howard, citing the film’s graphic tsunami scenes as “not appropriate” following the disaster.
Australian executives with Toshiba reportedly canceled a March 14 trip to Japan intended to finalize details on the company’s new 10.1-inch Folio tablet — set to launch in May.
Jim Handy, an analyst with Objective Analysis in Los Gatos, Calif., said the quake/tsunami and ongoing concerns regarding radiation leaks near affected nuclear power plants could easily halt CE production at least two weeks, resulting in higher retail prices.
“It doesn’t take a large production decrease to cause prices to increase dramatically,” Handy told ChannelNews.com.
Separately, Toyota, the world’s largest car manufacturer, saw its shares plummet to their lowest level since 2008 after the company announced it would shutter all 12 of its plants until March 16.
“It’s panic selling,” Toshikazu Horiuchi, a market analyst at Cosmo Securities Co. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg. “No one knows the complete picture yet on how big the damage will be from the earthquake.”