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Modules Within Sight

Mon Aug 21, 2000 - 11:05 PM EDT - By James Hromadka

What can be done

These shortages are not only affecting when a product comes out, it also affects its price. In a recent VisorCentral interview with Bob Fullerton, president of InnoGear, commented on Springboard module prices:
"Everything is skewed right now because of the flash memory pricing. All of these Springboards have some type of flash memory in them, whether [they use] a tiny amount of memory or 2MB or 8MB -- all of that flash is being consumed, so you have to find it from distributors and other markets; these people take these prices and triple or quadruple them, so it's tough right now. "
So what does the future hold? It seems that the flash shortage is with us for at least another year, as it will take time for companies like Intel and AMD to add new plants additional flash production. Springboard module makers are going to need to work hard on their procurement processes while they try to forcast their parts inventory. The effort involved in preventing delays is pretty daunting when there are so many companies trying to get a piece of the pie.

GeoDiscoveryDelays don't just mean that module makers sit around and wait for the parts to come in. GeoDiscovery has also faced parts problems during the design of the Geode GPS module, and instead of waiting for the parts to become available, GeoDiscovery is now modifying the Geode so it doesn't need those components. Although this has put the module several weeks behind, the Geode has been improved by using a better quality compass.

Consumers are going to need to have a little patience with Springboard module makers, as ship dates may slip from time to time. Looking at other industries, video games routinely slip past their original due dates. The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time was released three years after it was supposed to come out. I was frustrated by the delays, but when it finally came out, I wasn't disappointed. I think that is what will happen with some of the modules that we have all been pining for, such as the MiniJam -- it'll be worth the wait.

I liken Springboard modules to DVDs, which trickled out when they first appeared in 1997. Now there are several new DVD titles being released every week. Fortunately, I don't think we'll have to wait as long for us to have a slew of Springboard modules coming out each month. And when that day is here, we'll have as hard a time remembering these component shortages as people have remembering those early Visor shortages.


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