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Here’s why it’s so hard to get a PS5 right now

McKenzie Elyse

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The most elusive new console of the 21st century, Sony’s PS5 has been in short supply since its release in November 2020. Retailers’ mad scramble to keep the console in stock has continued well after the holiday season, indicating that it probably won’t be easier to get one anytime soon.

As a result of the shortage, private seller prices have skyrocketed. Some online retailers (also known as scalpers) are selling the console for over $1,000, with prices on the low end starting at around $800. When purchased from a big-box retailer or online marketplace, the PS5 is supposed to go for $499, or about $650 for a bundle. If you’re in the market for a PS5 and you’re one of the lucky few who find it in stock at Best Buy, Target, or Walmart, then you’d better scoop it up immediately. Finding one that goes for the actual retail price is about as easy as finding toilet paper was last March.

The huge markup reflects Sony’s inability to produce the console to meet demand due to supply chain issues caused by COVID. 

“It is difficult for us to increase production of the PS5 amid the shortage of semiconductors and other components,” Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki said. “We have not been able to fully meet the high level of demand from customers.”

Sony’s supply chain woes began at the onset of the pandemic, with operations in China halted by government lockdowns just as production of the PS5 should have started. The console entered the market in November 2020 already behind schedule, and the combination of higher demand resulting from more people staying home with persistent supply challenges has led many to the same conclusion: the PS5 will remain elusive well into 2021, and perhaps longer.

I'm a copywriter, journalist, and web content creator with a strong passion for my work. Crafting narratives of the world around me brings me an incredible sense of joy — there's nothing I would rather be doing. Besides writing, I enjoy cooking, mixology, music, and my weird cat named Marceline.

Business

Here’s why there’s a microchip shortage, and what it could mean for consumers.

McKenzie Elyse

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The growing problem of the international semiconductor microchip shortage has rippled throughout multiple industries since the start of the pandemic. It has driven up prices, and caused high-demand consumer electronics like the PS5 and iPhone 12 to be in short supply. 

It may even affect the used car industry in the coming months; some car factories have begun to shut down as they are unable to obtain the essential component, halting new car production for multiple manufacturers. Some estimates have shown the auto industry losing $60 billion in sales during the first half of this year, spelling certainty for a price hike in used cars.

Many have blamed the pandemic for the shortage due to factory closures and reduced worker capacities worldwide; pandemic also caused a spike in demand for personal computers due to the sudden work-from-home status quo, along with the demand for other consumer electronics as millions sought ways to combat the boredom of isolation. However, the pandemic’s impact on microchip supply may only be half the story.

Seemingly endless innovations in consumer electronics have prompted an increase in demand for the latest gadgets, which contain more complicated chips than ever before. All of the latest flagship phones, most of which were released in late 2020, come standard with 5G capabilities and powerful onboard computer processors. The newest generation of gaming consoles such as the PS5 and Xbox Series X also require far more processing power than their predecessors, necessitating complex semiconductor microchips.

President Trump’s trade war with China during his term in office may have also contributed to the shortage. Some analysts suspect that the Chinese phone producer Huawei Technologies may have begun stockpiling chips when Trump banned the sale of its phones in May 2019. The mounting problem was also recently exacerbated by a grounded container ship that blocked the Suez Canal for nearly a week, cutting off a supply of chips headed from Asia to Europe.

Global consumers can expect to continue seeing shortages of consumer electronics that require semiconductor chips, as well as a drastic decline in the availability of new cars — and thus, higher used car prices. According to basic macroeconomics, this multi-industry supply-and-demand phenomenon caused by the chip shortage may cause the prices of all of these products to rise; if the shortage continues for an extended period of time, the high prices could end up affecting other industries as well.

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COVID-19

Microsoft Redmond Campus Will Remain Closed Until September

Chris Rausch

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Everyone has been affected by COVID19 – even multi-billion dollar companies like Microsoft.

Businesses around the world have been closed for months for the safety of staff and customers due to the COVID19 pandemic. However, as the situation begins to calm down and more people are receiving vaccinations, businesses that survived lockdown are doing what they can to get back to normal. But, things still need to be done safely.

While Microsoft – creators and owners of the collaborative software Microsoft Teams – rely on in-person workplaces less than many companies, they are still eager to reopen their offices and campuses as soon as possible. They implemented a 6-stage reopening plan that involves working in-person more often as time goes on and stages advance, but progress has not been sticking to their schedule.

The original plan – drafted last fall – to reopen the Redmond campus in July has been delayed to September of this year. This came as a result of consulting with local health experts who advised the company that waiting to fully reopen would be safer for all parties. 

Instead, as of March 31st the campus is at “stage 4” – a soft reopening that encourages working from home but allows in-site working intermittently. They will slowly progress to “stage 5” in the next few months which will include more on-campus work. In the meantime, Microsoft will continue to allow some employees to work from home while those who are on campus must continue to follow all health and safety protocols to work towards the September 7th reopening.

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Apple

Apple Maps Rolls Out COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

Colin Edge

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Apple announced March 17 that iPhone users can now find COVID-19 vaccination locations on Apple Maps, the most recent in a series of developments aimed at mitigating the spread of the coronavirus and encouraging Apple users to stay healthy.

The new app capability was made in collaboration with VaccineFinder, a service from Boston Children’s Hospital that helps those who qualify find out where to get vaccinated. VaccineFinder partners with healthcare providers and pharmacies to keep patients informed on vaccine location, availability, and latest developments.

Apple Maps “placecards” for vaccine providers and pharmacies will display their information to users, including address, hours of operation, and more. The app already includes more than 20,000 locations, with plans to add more sites going forward. Businesses and clinics wishing to be included in the vaccine site group can sign up via Apple’s Business Registry.

COVID-19 testing sites have been available to search on the app since last year, and placecards for many businesses include special COVID-19 related information, like special takeout menus or adjusted hours. But as the vaccine becomes more readily available, this new functionality of Maps will only grow in necessity.

Siri has also been updated with each app development. Users can ask Siri, “Where can I find a COVID vaccine?” and Apple Maps will display relevant info. She can also inform users of the latest CDC guidelines for diagnosis and testing if asked, “Do I have COVID-19?” Siri will then provide helpful knowledge relating to symptoms and treatment.

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