Updates on the Bitcoin ASIC mining scene are cming faster and faster as the shipping dates for all three leading contenders approach. Only a few days ago, all major competitors were poised to release their products around January 19, and it looked as though the eight month long wait for the new mining technology would finally draw to a close. Now, however, it appears that most of us will have to wait a little longer.

The first troubling news came on Saturday when Dave, manager of the bASIC project’s parent company BTCFPGA, announced that the project has essentially collapsed, and is now processing refunds. BTCFPGA has been in trouble for over a week; on January 5, another BTCFPGA employee who goes by Tom, or “cablepair” on the company forums, announced on the BTCFPGA forums that shipping would be delayed considerably due to Chinese New Year celebrations in China. In 2013, the date for the Chinese New Year will be February 10, and factories typically close for a week on both sides of the holiday (or two weeks total), allowing for celebrations similar to Thanksgiving and Christmas, but more prolonged since Chinese factory workers often live far away from home and need days to get back. However, the consequences to businesses relying on China as part of their supply chain extend far beyond this. Raw materials suppliers often shut down weeks prior to the main celebration to anticipate the reduction in demand, and after the celebrations production also picks up very slowly. Many employees take extra vacation time right after the holidays for Chinese New Year – a sensible decision, as they live so far away from home and taking multiple shorter breaks would not allow them to see their families. At many factories, the situation is even worse: up to 50% of the workers do not return to their jobs at all. Thus, factories start off the new year understaffed, at a time when they need to be the busiest bringing production back on track.