Do engineers purchase from cloud based suppliers?

Brick and mortar vs. cloud: LCD suppliers?

Price and ease of ordering is important, but what about future availability?

With Amazon slowing taking over the world (followed closely by the Borg[photo]), I wonder if design engineers will be comfortable purchasing prototype LCD samples from a cloud supplier? Is Amazon, eBay and Alibi the wave of the future for new product designs? My definition of a LCD cloud supplier is a store front offering many, many different LCD choices on their web page, but holding little to no sample inventory. When they receive an order, they place an order with their supplier.

On the other hand, brick and mortar LCD suppliers, Online componentsMasters and Allied, offers a much smaller LCD selection, but hold larger amounts of inventory to support future production runs. They are also experts on just their products. That is, they eat, sleep and drink LCD’s, not resistors or PCB’s etc.

Will the LCD sample I purchase today be available in six months?

The cloud based business model is low-cost and offers engineers many choices, but what about future availability? Will the engineer return in six months to place a large production order only to find out the supplier is gone or no longer carries the exact LCD they designed?

As for me, a coffee addicted engineer, I am comfortable with purchasing pens, lawn-furniture and extension cords from a cloud supplier. But, I am not comfortable purchasing key components for a future design from someone that may not be supplying LCD’s six months from now when full production starts. (Engineers have two great fears: running out of coffee and facing the purchasing manager to explain why the LCD they selected is now obsolete)

What happens when you need a custom LCD design? Can the cloud supplier make changes to their stock LCD design? Or is it like what Henry Ford said about his automobiles. “You can have any color car you like as long as it is black”?

I am curious to hear what others think. Will OEM’s and design houses move to cloud based purchasing for prototype components? Or will they stick with brick and mortar?

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