CD-RW drive manufacturers are short of pick-up heads, as demand is growing and models with faster reading speeds are hitting the market too fast for component suppliers to react. According to sources, supply from Sanyo is running the lowest of all suppliers. Taiwan CD-RW concerns are procuring the majority of pick-up heads from Sanyo, Ricoh, Sony, Hitachi, Philips and Mitsumi.
The mainstream CD-RW drive is still 24x speed, but many manufacturers already moved up to 32x speed drives at the end of 2001 and are preparing to launch 40x speed drives in the first quarter of 2002. However, Japan’s pick-up head manufacturers are not willing to risk hasty expansion to satisfy this new demand.
Taiwan’s disc drive manufacturers are shipping CD-RW drives in much greater numbers, while growth in DVD-ROM and CD-ROM drives is slowing down. Lite-On IT, Benq (formerly Acer Communications & Multimedia, ACM) and Behavior Tech Computer (BTC) reported the fastest growth in CD-RW shipments in December. Lite-On IT moved more than two million units. These major players are all supplied by Sanyo, which has been unable to keep up with demand. Mid-size companies like AOpen and Ultima Electronics (Artec) are buying pick-up heads from Ricoh and have not reported such a severe shortage.
Despite the shortage, pick-up head prices have remained steady