Five high-tech items that will cost you more in 2012

Every day, stories appear about a price drop for this or that tech gadget. As a result, consumers have a tendency to delay spending. After all, why buy something today that will be cheaper tomorrow?

That won’t be the case for everything in 2012, though. Here is a list of tech products and services whose prices are expected to rise in the coming months. If you’re shopping for any of them, you might want to buy sooner rather than later.

Digital Cameras

Smartphones, such as the Apple iPhone 4S is eating into the low end of the digital camera market. Numbers for the digital point-and-shoot camera market were down 17 per cent in units and 18 per cent in dollars for the first 11 months of 2011, according to the NPD Group.

By contrast, during the same period, digital cameras with detachable lenses saw a 12 per cent increase in units shipped, and an 11 per cent bump up in dollars. More expensive point-and-shoot cameras with large zooms also saw increases during the time frame–16 per cent in units shipped and 10 per cent in dollars.

Camera makers can see the handwriting on the wall. They’re going to be adding features and pumping up the quality of their new cameras, and you can expect all of that to translate into higher camera prices in the coming months.

Hard Drives

The price of storage has shown a nice, steady decline in the past, but not this year.

Flooding of historic proportions in Thailand last year has disrupted the hard-drive supply chain.

Thailand accounts for up to 45 per cent of worldwide hard-drive production, and the flooding has damaged more than a dozen hard-drive factories, according to market research firm IDC.

Bargain-hunting site DealNews.com says that the flooding has forced some retailers to ration hard-drive-based products over the past year–and that has reduced the number of discounts that merchants can offer on hard-drive products. DealNews predicts that hard-drive shortages will continue throughout the first quarter of 2012. IDC, however, anticipates that hard-drive prices will stabilize by June, and that the industry should return to normal by the second half of the year.

Desktop Computers

Two factors will contribute to higher prices for desktop computers in 2012.

Climbing hard-drive prices, of course, are in turn raising the prices of PCs. According to high-tech market watcher Gartner, PC makers will be unable to absorb the higher cost of hard drives, and will be passing that cost on to consumers. IDC agrees: PC prices may rise as a result of the prolonged and substantial effects of the flooding, says Loren Loverde, IDC vice president. Hard drives constitute about seven per cent to 10 per cent of the total cost of a PC, Loverde notes. Gartner predicts that desktops will be the first to succumb to the upward price pressure, followed by laptops.

Along with the hard-drive trend, design changes will fire up prices. More all-in-one desktops will enter the market, and many will have touchscreens, which are more expensive to produce than traditional hands-off displays, according to NPD, which predicts a 30 percent increase in the average price of a PC.

Mobile-Device Data Plans

Although the rollout of faster data-delivery technologies usually depresses the cost of data plans for consumers, in 4G’s case that development will be offset by wireless carriers’ movement away from unlimited data plans, according to DealNews.

One service provider, for instance, has been busy building out its wireless 4G LTE network over the past 12 months. Not surprisingly, earlier this summer it announced that it was killing its unlimited data plan in favour of a tiered pricing model with data caps. The result? Many consumers will be paying more for their mobile data this year, especially heavy users.

If you plan to buy anything on the Internet, you can expect delivery to cost more. Postal rates are scheduled to climb 4.6 per cent in 2012–provided that the Postal Service is still around to raise them.

Reports also indicate that both Federal Express and UPS will be jacking up their rates on small packages by 4.9 per cent.

Online shopping is growing in popularity (up 15 per cent in the past year, according to ComScore). If you intend to shop for gifts on the Web this year, you might want to budget some extra shipping costs into your budget.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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