A shortage of batteries could hurt smaller PC vendors, although the top 10 vendors are unlikely to be unaffected, the world's largest contract laptop manufacturer has said.

Taiwan's Quanta Computer forecasts that the supply of lithium-ion batteries for laptop PCs will remain strained for the next few months, following a fire at a battery factory belonging to South Korea's LG Chem in March. Production at the affected factory is slated to begin again in a few months.

Demand for laptops is booming, but Quanta believes the 10 biggest PC vendors will make it through the current battery scare unscathed. The company forecasts it will produce 40 million notebook PCs this year for major customers including Hewlett-Packard and Dell. The 2008 target is higher than the 32 million laptops the company shipped last year.

"Big customers won't have problems because they're the first to be served by suppliers," said C.C. Leung, vice chairman and president of Quanta, at a news conference in Kuei Shan, Taiwan.

Over 70 percent of Quanta's laptops are made for the top 10 PC vendors, while the remaining 30 percent go to smaller companies.

Materials used in PC and laptop casings are also becoming scarce, and may remain so for longer than the current battery shortage, Quanta said