Suppliers expect supplies of memory, motherboards and high-end VGA cards to be affected. The real impact is expected to wash across the country next month. Price increases are predicted. Conversations with Taipei-based "Gigabyte" indicate the company has cancelled forthcoming motherboard shipments. Many New Zealand based companies (Melco, CheckSun) are also expecting orders to be unmet.

Peter Wogan, marketing communications director for Compaq New Zealand, says the company is still trying to get more information on the situation in Taiwan but he believes there will be some disruption. Compaq notebooks are manufactured by Taiwanese companies Inventec and Arima.

Apple Computer, Dell, Gateway and Hewlett-Packard all manufacture notebooks in Taiwan, with Taiwanese manufacturers responsible for about 40 per cent of the world's notebook computer supply.

Peter Brett, of Insite Technology, has spoken to Insite's Taiwan-based motherboard manufacturer Asustek, which had escaped the worst of the quake.

"It's all working and alive. From what we understand the epicenter of the quake wasn't around Taipei ... I think we will experience delays in some of the components we ship out of Taiwan -- in particular semiconductors and motherboards."

According to a statement from Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the world's largest contract chip manufacturer, the company's buildings, water and power distribution systems have successfully withstood the effects of the quake. Likewise, General Semiconductor has announced that its Taipei factory sustained no major damage in the quake.

However, it could be a week before electricity supplies return to normal throughout the island, according to authorities in Taiwan. Communications were hit hard by the quake, with power outages knocking out many telephony systems, including some base stations for mobile phones and computers for Internet access.

Taiwan is the world's third-largest manufacturer of PCs and related products, according to estimates by the Market Intelligence Centre, the market research arm of the government-backed Institute for Information Industry.

Supply of LCD screens is also likely to be affected. Six new fabrication plants were scheduled for opening over the next 18 months, which would have alleviated much of the pricing pressure now strangling the market. But the earthquake leaves a large question mark as to the timing of those plants.