There have been a slew of e-readers and digital note taking devices that have come out in late 2020 and early 2021. Products from companies such as Barnes and Noble, Onyx Boox, Supernote are completely unavailable until late May or June. This is because there is a global chip shortage that is affecting the entire chip industry, likely you have heard about it on the news. This is resulting in the latest generation of graphics cards from Nvidia, and ARM as being very hard to comeby. Why is there a global chip shortage? Everyone is pointing out to the US embargo on many Chinese companies, and this has resulted in companies such as Huawei and Xiaomi buying most of the local supply. Really, China has nothing really to do with the shortage, it is because most CPUS are made in Taiwan and they are having a major water shortage.
Taiwan is responsible for 90% of all high quality chips that are in computers, phones, and of course trickle down to e-readers as well. The country is a subtropical Island and is usually one of the most rainy places on Earth, but they are having the worst droughts in the past 56 years and it is affecting everything. At the Baoshan No. 2 Reservoir in Hsinchu County, one of the primary water sources for Taiwan’s $100 billion dollar semiconductor industry, the water level is at the lowest it’s ever been – only 7% full. Chip companies are trying to recycle water, but it is not enough and this has created massive delays with tech companies trying to meet consumer demand. Even though something is designed and manufactured in China, the vast majority of chips are sourced from Taiwan.
“This has started to make semiconductor factories nervous when they have more semiconductor orders,” said Iris Pang, a Taiwan economy specialist at ING, who said the current chip shortage would probably last into next year and possibly into 2023.
The Taiwan semiconductor industry is affecting everyone in the tech industry. This is why the the Supernote A5X, Supernote A6X are delayed until the end of May. While the Onyx Boox Nova 3 Color and the Max Lumi are delayed until June, while the Nook has been chronically out of stock. Accessories are also hard to find, many WACOM enabled pens are completely sold out, including the Supernote Heart of Metal. It has also prevented Kobo from releasing their new e-reader, that got FCC approval in late January. The lack of water, is going to prevent Amazon from releasing new Kindles until the end of the year, and may even affect the new Linfiny Digital Paper Color and the new products employing the E INK Kaleido 3 color e-paper technology.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.