Cheap Chromebooks could get price rises thanks to supply issues

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Cheap Chromebooks could soon get a bit pricier thanks to supply issues with components for the eMMC storage which is often found in these kind of affordable devices.

That’s the conclusion drawn by analyst firm TrendForce, although we must bear in mind that this is just a prediction at this point – albeit a well-educated piece of speculation.

TrendForce observes that there are problems with suppliers of the controller ICs (integrated circuits) for NAND flash drives – the likes of Phison and Silicon Motion – with price hikes being considered as a result; increases that could have a knock-on effect when it comes to Chromebook storage.

While the NAND flash market remains oversupplied right now, TrendForce forecasts that due to these supply chain issues, pressure will soon be applied to 32GB and 64GB eMMC drives (eMMC is embedded flash storage which is much cheaper than a traditional SSD, but doesn’t offer the same level of performance – although of course it’s faster than a hard drive).

Prices of these low capacity eMMC drives could therefore be driven up, and those costs will (as always) be passed onto the consumer, meaning that cheap Chromebooks which run with these affordable storage options may become a bit more expensive.

Near future

These price hikes may make themselves felt in the first quarter of 2021, so this is a potential scenario for the near future – perhaps making picking up a Chromebook in the sales a good idea if you were already thinking of buying and missed the Black Friday boat.

The good news is that these component supply issues won’t trouble SSD prices, as the big solid-state drive makers have in-house controller ICs made by foundries under long-term contracts, so those will remain unaffected. At least for the time being anyway, although TrendForce notes that production lead times have been stretched out a little even with SSDs, so this will be something to keep an eye on going forward.

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).