The real damage of the hard disk shortage is only now starting to bite - and it will last until the end of 2012.
That prediction is from hard-drive maker Seagate's CEO Steve Luczo, who told All Things Digital that before the flood hit, Seagate expected demand next year to be about 180 million units a quarter, "with a bump in September 2012 for Windows 8".
However, Seagate now believes the industry will only be able to supply 120 million in the next quarter, slowly improving to being able to fill demand by next December.
The pain won't end then, as the industry will have to catch up with the 100 million shipments it won't be able to deliver over the course of the year.
"And that will take another year to absorb, because it's not like the industry is building new factories to chase that demand," Luczo said. "We can't over invest to meet some bubble and then get stuck with excess capacity."
Inventory running out
Luczo said built up inventory is only now starting to run out, so it's going to get much worse over the next few weeks.
"There was already a lot of built inventory and a lot of finished goods moving through the system," he said. "And now all that is gone, and I think customers are starting to see shelves of parts go empty, and realising that they’re not going to be filled for anywhere from one to two months."
He warned that although the floods hit six weeks ago, many "fairly sophisticated companies" clearly didn't understand the full scale of the problem - although he praised Apple's CEO Tim Cook and HP's CEO Meg Whitman as two tech leaders who were on top of the problem.
Whitman said in a conference call at the beginning of the week that HP "reacted really fast" to the problem. "We set up a war room, we began pulling in inventory and made strategic buys of hard drives back in early October," she said, adding that HP will get more than it's "fair share" of the drives that are available.
"I think this is going to affect the industry pretty dramatically because it's PCs, it's servers, it's storage, and I think there's going to be some shortages in Q1 and Q2," she added. "I think we're as well positioned as we can be, but I think this is going to be pretty tough for the industry."