Back-to-school laptop shortage hits US schools

JD Wheeler

Posts: 9   +3
Staff
The big picture: School is starting back up across the US with various in-classroom and remote solutions being pushed to adapt to the unique challenges of this school year. To meet the need of their students in a world with COVID-19, many school districts have run into problems finding enough laptops needed for distance learning.

The three largest laptop producers, Lenovo, HP and Dell, have told school districts they have a shortage of nearly 5 million laptops. Exacerbated by multiple supply side issues, the companies are struggling to satisfy demand. Low-cost options, such as Chromebooks, are the most commonly sought after for school districts dealing with low budgets and are precisely the type of models that are most impacted by supply side disruptions.

According to Associated Press, the Trump Administration's Commerce Department, "imposed sanctions on 11 Chinese companies, including the manufacturer of multiple models of Lenovo laptops." The announcement stated the sanctions were targeted to companies that were implicated in forced labor or other human rights abuses against a Muslim minority population, the Uighurs.

In a letter to the Denver Public School district, which ordered 12,500 Chromebooks in May and June, Lenovo indicated these "trade controls" were adding to the delays in shipments and listed 23 models manufactured by Hefei Bitland Information Technology Co. Ltd. to shift production sites as a result of the sanctions.

With the pandemic pushing educational institutions to adapt quickly, educators find themselves in a frustrating place to be in. “This is going to be like asking an artist to paint a picture without paint. You can’t have a kid do distance learning without a computer,” said Tom Baumgarten, superintendent of the Morongo Unified School District in California’s Mojave Desert.

Tom Baumgarten's order of 5,000 HP laptops was originally promised before the first day of school, but was pushed back to September and then October, leaving the district with half as many laptops as needed.

Many districts are starting up this week despite not having adequate resources and currently, the shortage has no end in sight.

Image credit: Juliya Shangarey

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Evernessince

Posts: 5,340   +5,815
Laptop shortage....
since when did you need a laptop to learn.
Either you can buy the laptop or you can buy the books, of which could cost you $125 per class. That's nothing compared to my college books, some of which averaged $200.

No way schools are able to afford one for every student as well, budget doesn't allow for that.

America, land of exploiting the poor and middle class.
 
I wonder if a sort of BYOD-ish solution would work for students with applicable devices, who are willing to use them for school purposes.
 

mailpup

Posts: 7,594   +716
TS Special Forces
I wonder if a sort of BYOD-ish solution would work for students with applicable devices, who are willing to use them for school purposes.
Some might be willing to use their own devices but if the school is providing them for free, I'd guess that the vast majority will want a free one.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,474   +5,851
Besides schools couldn't morally lock-down BYOD, because it is a personal device.

Well they are all made in China. Enjoy Trump's tantrum.
You people make me sick. Trump has only done what needed to be done four decades ago. We should have never grown so dependent on any country as we have China.
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,340   +5,815
You people make me sick. Trump has only done what needed to be done four decades ago. We should have never grown so dependent on any country as we have China.
China needed to be addressed a long time ago. That said, this administration has approached it in the worst way possible.

Making threats and unilateral action has a limited effect. It would have been far more appropriate to approach this situation with the help of our allies. Tariffs have been proven ineffective and it's why modern presidents tend to shy away from them. After all, it's the importing country that pays them not the exporting country. In essence it's a tax on foreign goods designed to change spending habits. The problem of course is that many goods are no longer made in the US.

The basic requirement of any war is to go in prepared. Had Trump petitioned congress for subsidies to US based manufacturing ahead of time (he had both the house and senate during the first 2 years) so that factories can be built and labor acquired in advance, the US might actually have been in a position to take advantage. Instead, what's supposed to discourage spending on Chinese products just ends up increasing the price Americans have to pay because there's no alternative choice and no one thought ahead to provide those additional choices to begin with. Economies don't just change on demand. Failing to plan is planning to fail. I don't think many Americans disagree that China has been a growing problem for a long time but the way Trump approached this makes me think he never put any effort into it beyond mere impulse to appease to his base.
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,474   +5,851
After all, it's the importing country that pays them not the exporting country.
Of course, that is the point. Regardless of which country pays the tariff. Any motivation to produce for ourselves is a plus. People in the US are not technically challenged. We can produce, if only we had a chance.

It doesn't matter if Trump's attempt is all wrong. Someone needed to start somewhere, and no one else has even attempted. Sometimes we have to practice before getting it right. But then that also means failures. And for the record you may see it as a failure, but I do not.
 

texasrattler

Posts: 971   +424
China needed to be addressed a long time ago. That said, this administration has approached it in the worst way possible.

Making threats and unilateral action has a limited effect. It would have been far more appropriate to approach this situation with the help of our allies. Tariffs have been proven ineffective and it's why modern presidents tend to shy away from them. After all, it's the importing country that pays them not the exporting country. In essence it's a tax on foreign goods designed to change spending habits. The problem of course is that many goods are no longer made in the US.

The basic requirement of any war is to go in prepared. Had Trump petitioned congress for subsidies to US based manufacturing ahead of time (he had both the house and senate during the first 2 years) so that factories can be built and labor acquired in advance, the US might actually have been in a position to take advantage. Instead, what's supposed to discourage spending on Chinese products just ends up increasing the price Americans have to pay because there's no alternative choice and no one thought ahead to provide those additional choices to begin with. Economies don't just change on demand. Failing to plan is planning to fail. I don't think many Americans disagree that China has been a growing problem for a long time but the way Trump approached this makes me think he never put any effort into it beyond mere impulse to appease to his base.
If prior Administration had done their job we likely wouldnt be in this situation to begin with. So let's not start saying it's Trump fault when the past Presidents have been failing this country long before Trump.
 

Ben Myers

Posts: 107   +36
I sell high-quality refurb laptops, and there is a lot of demand for them. I won't go political here.
 

BobHome

Posts: 73   +29
You people make me sick. Trump has only done what needed to be done four decades ago. We should have never grown so dependent on any country as we have China.
Look to American manufacturers first.
Since WWII they've been moving their factories overseas 'to the next cheap labor market'. Remember 'Made in Japan'?
When that labor got too expensive, they moved to another country like Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, etc.
China is just one of the latest counties they have relocated their factories to.
 
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Ben Myers

Posts: 107   +36
Look to American manufacturers first.
Since WWII they've been moving their factories overseas 'to the next cheap labor market'. Remember" Made in Japan'?
When that labor got too expensive, they moved to another country like Singapore, Thailand, Korea, Vietnam, etc.
China is just one of the latest counties they have relocated their factories to.
SO right. American manufacturers got greedy, moved manufacturing off shore because of cheap labor and cheap bulk transport, signed deals with China to sell things in China. We also moved a lot of machinery and fab equipment to China, where it was promptly reverse-engineered and cloned. The old Digital Equipment Corporation was a forerunner in using Chinese factories to build hardware, and look where it got them. The deals required that we license American trade secrets which have subsequently been stolen or cloned and now the American manufacturers weep that they have been had. 3Com (R.I.P.) and its relation with Huawei is an especially egregious example, as the Huawei leech sucked all the life out of 3COM and left behind an empty shell. So now all of our fine American manufacturers complain that they were ripped off by China, when, in fact, their greed and stupidity did them in.

Nowadays, Dell, HP and Apple have most of their gear made in China by Foxconn. Lenovo makes it own stuff in China, derived from IBM and Motorola products which they bought up. Asus and MSI gear is all made in China.

The stock market and vulture capitalists are to blame here with their demand for profits TODAY. There has been little long-term planning done by American business leaders, whose greed makes then exceedingly short-term thinkers, because their bonuses and stock options are tied to the results in the current quarter or the current year. Chinese thinking about business planning is long term. In fact, so are Western European businesses, with more reasonable ratios of executive-employee compensation and no dependency whatsoever on the NYSE or NASDAQ.

In the words of Walt Kelly's Pogo, American manufacturers, both dead and still functioning, can say: "We have met the enemy, and he is us."
 
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Endymio

Posts: 376   +250
Look to American manufacturers first. Since WWII they've been moving their factories overseas 'to the next cheap labor market'. Remember 'Made in Japan'? When that labor got too expensive, they moved to another country...China is just one of the latest
So many misconceptions. First of all, Japanese manufacturing was (and is) done almost entirely by Japanese firms, not US corporations moving production there. Secondly, the labor cost differential between the US and China is smaller now than it was fifty years ago. Those firms didn't move to China in the 1960s; the reason they moved in the 1990s and 2000s wasn't primarily for labor costs. Escaping onerous regulations is usually ranked number 1.

Reducing a complex situation to the single word "greed" might be emotionally satisfying, but the attitude it engenders is dangerously misinformed. If you want American industry to flourish, you have to create an environment in which it can do so. That's not done by muttering neo-socialist mantras.

In fact, so are Western European businesses, with more reasonable ratios of executive-employee compensation and no dependency whatsoever on the NYSE or NASDAQ.
Ahh, you are on the board of several of these Western European firms, are you? Then you should know that Europe's large corporations -- Royal Dutch Shell, all trade on exchanges no differently than do US firms ... and their top executives are paid bonuses for annual performance, again just like here in the US. Sometimes those bonuses motivate them to act improperly as well:

VW Dieselgate executive to finish prison time in Germany

(story)
 

cliffordcooley

Posts: 12,474   +5,851
If you want American industry to flourish, you have to create an environment in which it can do so. That's not done by muttering neo-socialist mantras.
I know how it is done. Slowly cut off trade for all things we can develop for ourselves. It's likely to take decades cropping the majority of our dependencies.
 
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Ben Myers

Posts: 107   +36
So many misconceptions. First of all, Japanese manufacturing was (and is) done almost entirely by Japanese firms, not US corporations moving production there. Secondly, the labor cost differential between the US and China is smaller now than it was fifty years ago. Those firms didn't move to China in the 1960s; the reason they moved in the 1990s and 2000s wasn't primarily for labor costs. Escaping onerous regulations is usually ranked number 1.

Reducing a complex situation to the single word "greed" might be emotionally satisfying, but the attitude it engenders is dangerously misinformed. If you want American industry to flourish, you have to create an environment in which it can do so. That's not done by muttering neo-socialist mantras.

Ahh, you are on the board of several of these Western European firms, are you? Then you should know that Europe's large corporations -- Royal Dutch Shell, all trade on exchanges no differently than do US firms ... and their top executives are paid bonuses for annual performance, again just like here in the US. Sometimes those bonuses motivate them to act improperly as well:

VW Dieselgate executive to finish prison time in Germany

(story)
Wait a minute here! What did I ever say about Japanese manufacturing? Let's get it straight! I stated correctly that Digital Equipment Corp was one of the electronics pioneers to move manufacturing to China in the '90s. At the time, wages for labor in China were extremely low compared to here in the US, so an ex-DEC employee here in town told me.

If not greed, it was naïveté and trust that Chinese partners would respect intellectual property, rather than purloin it in various ways. And of course it was to make a lot of money when China opened up its markets to US products as well. These forays didn't exactly work out well in many cases, as the Chinese set up barriers for companies to sell products there. The most significant one was and is that the Chinese own 51% of any joint venture, of course, giving them full access to the IP of the joint venture.

Whether you admit or not, publicly traded companies in the United States are very much beholden to turning ever growing revenue and profits every quarter or every year. Chinese companies, no. European companies less so, with employee representation on corporate boards and an European Union more friendly to consumers and employees rather than companies, unlike these United States with its lightly regulated capitalism full of monopolies, duopolies and oligopolies. I am not taking the POV of a neo-socialist, just observing events and seeing facts for what they are.
 

Endymio

Posts: 376   +250
I know how it is done. Slowly cut off trade for all things we can develop for ourselves.
There are plenty of nations around the world which try that approach. The problem is the industries thus protected survive in that nation alone and continue only to survive with continual government support. They do not export overseas because their products are inferior and overpriced.

The real solution is to return to how the US gained dominant control of those industries in the first place. Create a environment where business can flourish, and attract the best and brightest from around the world. Thanks to our insane lottery system, we're currently allowing millions of illegal immigrants into the country every year, while denying visas to an vast number of legal migrants who have advanced degrees in science, engineering, and medicine.
 

Endymio

Posts: 376   +250
Wait a minute here! What did I ever say about Japanese manufacturing? Let's get it straight!
As the post indicates, that section was responding to BobHome, not you.

I stated correctly that Digital Equipment Corp was one of the electronics pioneers to move manufacturing to China in the '90s. At the time, wages for labor in China were extremely low compared to here in the US...
Digital was founded in the 1950s. In the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, the wage gap between US and China was even larger than it was in the 1990s. So if "saving wages" was their primary motive, why did DEC wait till then to move?

If not greed, it was naïveté and trust that Chinese partners would respect intellectual property, rather than purloin it in various ways. And of course it was to make a lot of money when China opened up its markets to US products as well. These forays didn't exactly work out well in many cases, as the Chinese set up barriers for companies to sell products there. The most significant one was and is that the Chinese own 51% of any joint venture, of course, giving them full access to the IP of the joint venture.
I couldn't agree with you more here.

publicly traded companies in the United States are very much beholden to turning ever growing revenue and profits every quarter or every year...European companies less so, with employee representation on corporate boards and an European Union more friendly to consumers and employees
If the EU is so friendly to consumers, why do those consumers pay so much more for products than we do here in the US?
 
China needed to be addressed a long time ago. That said, this administration has approached it in the worst way possible.

Making threats and unilateral action has a limited effect. It would have been far more appropriate to approach this situation with the help of our allies. Tariffs have been proven ineffective and it's why modern presidents tend to shy away from them. After all, it's the importing country that pays them not the exporting country. In essence it's a tax on foreign goods designed to change spending habits. The problem of course is that many goods are no longer made in the US.

The basic requirement of any war is to go in prepared. Had Trump petitioned congress for subsidies to US based manufacturing ahead of time (he had both the house and senate during the first 2 years) so that factories can be built and labor acquired in advance, the US might actually have been in a position to take advantage. Instead, what's supposed to discourage spending on Chinese products just ends up increasing the price Americans have to pay because there's no alternative choice and no one thought ahead to provide those additional choices to begin with. Economies don't just change on demand. Failing to plan is planning to fail. I don't think many Americans disagree that China has been a growing problem for a long time but the way Trump approached this makes me think he never put any effort into it beyond mere impulse to appease to his base.
Actually, Trump is long time and well known supporter or moving semiconductor manufacturing into the US:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-...ek-semiconductor-self-sufficiency-11589103002
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/14/technology/trump-tsmc-us-chip-facility.html
https://www.cotton.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1391

With senator Tom Cotton bill it was allocated five billion dollars to support US semiconductor manufactoring
 

Evernessince

Posts: 5,340   +5,815
Actually, Trump is long time and well known supporter or moving semiconductor manufacturing into the US:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-...ek-semiconductor-self-sufficiency-11589103002
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/14/technology/trump-tsmc-us-chip-facility.html
https://www.cotton.senate.gov/?p=press_release&id=1391

With senator Tom Cotton bill it was allocated five billion dollars to support US semiconductor manufactoring
Vocal supporter but I've not seen any material positive trends yet. Foxconn was supposed to have a factory in Wisconsin and that still hasn't gotten anywhere. A bunch of free tax payer money being throw around and the companies aren't even completing their end of the bargain.

TSMC has only announced intention: https://www.tsmc.com/tsmcdotcom/PRL...do?action=detail&newsid=THGOANPGTH&language=E

They have not committed anything yet.
 

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