Dell is experiencing delivery delays for its M1330 ultraportable notebook line. Bob Kaufman, a spokesman for Dell, said that strong demand for the new product, introduced June 28, created the conditions for supply constraints that ultimately means "some shipments for customers have been delayed."
Kaufman added that, "we have teams that are working around the clock globally to decrease the number of systems affected by these delays."
As serious as the issue is for Dell, which faces lost business if disaffected customers switch to another OEM, such as HP, a chokepoint in this supply chain may bode poorly for other notebook manufacturers dependent on the same components, particularly those in the build-to-order business.
Alex Gruzen, senior vice president of Dells consumer product group, disclosed several kinks in the companys supply chain in a blog posting earlier this month. Gruzen wrote that "there are some components like the LED display that may add time to an estimated ship date."
Click here to read more about a gap in the supply chain strategy.
LED backlit panels have proven extremely popular with the public and were also a showcase feature of Apples latest Macbook Pro refresh in June. (The 15-inch Macbook Pro, which also features the display, is currently listed with a shipping delay of 7-10 business days. The 17-inch model, which doesnt feature an LED backlit display, ships in 24 hours.)
The M1330 is also being delayed because of complications in the painting process. Gruzen explained that pearl requires five coats of paint to get the appearance Dell desires.
A customer service representative at Dell confirmed that certain colors are taking 25 days to build and 7 days to ship; specifically, the crimson red model ordered Aug. 21 would not arrive until Sept. 27. The pearl white finish, which was offered on launch, is no longer even an option to new customers.
Toni Duboise, who analyzes the computer hardware industry at Current Analysis West, based in San Diego, said Dell is not the only OEM facing shortages. "The industry news out of Asia Pacific indicates some component shortages, but nobodys owned up to it. There are indications of [component] shortages…within panels, battery cells, optical drives," she said.
Dell tries to set itself apart from competitors like HP—which has been gaining market share at Dells expense—with its concept of "mass customization." The computer company specializes in supplying custom-built machines rather than a limited range of store-bought options.
But flexibility makes it harder to predict which configurations will be the most in demand, especially when theres a run on limited supplies of popular components. According to Duboise, "The build-to-order guys have it tougher than [those who sell] preconfigured [computers]. Theres an argument that the build-to-order vendors would feel the pain [of component shortages] first."
Duboise said the delays surrounding the M1330 "could be a bigger indication of a larger problem or simply a hiccup. It doesnt bode well for the launch, but it might indicate there are larger industry problems."
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