Hard drives are something we regularly take for granted in our computers, rarely considering their costs and availability. The flooding in Thailand has unfortunately put heavy strain upon the availability of hard drives, including the 2TB drives Apple uses for their iMac range it would seem.
The 2TB hard drives are available as an option in Apple's iMac desktop line, though adding them can also add to the delivery time for the machine to be dispatched to your house. According to the Apple website it could add anywhere from five to seven weeks to the delivery time due to the sheer difficulty of sourcing 2TB hard drives for the machines. Over 50% of all hard drives in the world are made in Thailand, so the massive flooding in the country has led to a shortage of drives.
The Mac Pro line can be outfitted with as many as four 2TB hard drives, though when doing this, the delivery time for the machine does not increase. This could be used to suggest that Apple are holding any 2TB hard drives they have available for usage in the Mac Pro line over the iMacs at present. If you are considering buying an iMac with 2TB hard drive it is worth noting that the 1TB hard drive can be used instead without an increased delivery time. Whether this would be deemed acceptable or not is another question entirely.
Speaking days after the floods struck Thailand, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the following:
"We source many components from Thailand. There are several factories that are not operable, and the recovery timeline is not known at this point."
Analysts estimate the recovery time could drag into 2012 Q1, though the hard drive shortage could be a problem since hard drives are used for servers holding websites. If these servers were not to be expandable there could be repercussions for the internet in general in the near future. If the recovery is correct this could be averted however, with the production of hard drives on the scale we have grown used to.
Currently, Apple uses conventional hard drives in their iMac, and Mac Pro lines (an SSD in the MacBook Pro is optional), having moved the MacBook Air laptops to solid state drives (SSDs), offering increased performance and durability. The iMac and Mac Pro could follow in the future, though SSD capacities are still smaller than those of the conventional drives. The Thai hard drive manufacturers seem to be recovering from the floods though, as Western Digital have resumed drive production. While other companies are still yet to resume production it does show that things are looking up, and the possibility that hard drive prices will deflate again.