What's happening with supplies
Shortages on Chromebooks and Laptops Will Continue in 2021
Earlier this year processor shortages were already anticipated by Intel, and with some manufacturers relying solely on Intel chips, their ability to deliver computers was further delayed. Adding to the situation was the increase in demand for mobile devices to support remote learning.
Meanwhile, AMD has seen its orders for processors increase by millions of units this year, and they have been working around the clock to meet demands. However, the computer manufacturers accepted orders for millions of units and the supply chains were unable to handle that capacity in such a short time span. Also adding to the challenges was the available stock of major components like memory, storage, and batteries meaning if one item was not in stock it could impact delivery for hundreds of thousands of units.
Another factor is retail versus commercial orders. In some cases, computer manufacturers placed retail orders ahead of commercial orders. With upcoming holiday buying seasons, major retail partners such as Best Buy, Amazon and Walmart made orders dating back to early 2020. Manufacturers would be looking at stiff financial consequences should they miss delivery due dates. As such, the holiday buying season became more important than schools. Add to that a nationwide shortage of truck drivers and delivery services are experiencing significant delays.
So when are they coming?
Based on current order backlogs, most manufacturers will be working until March or even April of 2021 to fulfill existing orders. Given that most new devices that would typically be announced in January would be manufactured at this time, it is reasonable to anticipate production backlogs will occur for the 2021-2022 school year.
Beware of the false promises. While we are encouraged by recent production improvements, distribution and communication among some computer manufacturers has been less than exemplary. Some of you may be frustrated or confused by emails from less-than-honorable resellers. We have personally seen them. One claimed to have access to Chromebook units in a matter of 2-3 weeks, and another was selling units for nearly twice the normal price. In both cases, the units didn’t exist.
What are we doing for the situation?
Like a few other honorable companies, we adopted a “First In, First Out” policy. We promise to fulfil orders as soon as those devices are received and are using the following standards of business conducts in all our fulfillments and communications with our customers:
- Processing and delivering your orders will remain our highest priority.
- If we have a similar model available that meets your needs, we will (upon your approval) switch your order with no price increase.
- We will not jump the line and put another school’s order ahead of yours.
- We will provide honest, accurate and transparent communication to all customers.
If you are under pressure to supply computers quickly we have some short-term solutions. Here are some alternatives we can explore with you:
- Low-cost desktops for hybrid classrooms and remote learning
- Switching your Chromebook order with more powerful Windows or Chrome units that may have a shorter delivery time
- Refurbished laptops that come with our Lifetime Parts Warranty
- Alternate devices from second-tier computer manufacturers (based on real-time inventory information)
What about the 2021-2022 School Year?
We are advising schools to order by late March for your best chance to ensure a timely delivery. Based on current market conditions, we have every reason to believe that there will be backlogs impacting manufacturers well into 2021. Futuresource LTD predicts that international demand for K-12 mobile devices (as reported by EdWeek) will cause further supply chain constraints.
Caption: Even though U.S. device orders are expected to decrease by 2m units in 2021, international demand is expected to increase, extending the device shortage well into 2021.
For schools still needing to place orders for computers we are recommending securing purchase orders no later than March 31, 2021. We will be happy to assist you with creative financing and leasing options such as no payments until July 1, 2021. That way you don’t need to wait for new fiscal year budgets or CARES Act funding and can be further ahead in the line.
No words can truly address the disruption to learning that the worldwide shortage of Chromebooks and laptops has had on students. As former educators and parents, we are seeing the struggle with remote and hybrid learning due to a simple lack of computers and internet access devices. We are doing everything we can to help.
If you have a pending order with us, you’ve already received ongoing communication from our team and we will continue to keep you informed about your order(s).
If you’re looking to place a new order, we invite you to speak with our Chief Executive Officer or Chief Academic Officer to help address your needs and find the best options.