Annual shipment of notebook computers and desktop PCs underwent a massive increase in 2020 thanks to the proliferation of the stay-at-home economy brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic last year, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. In particular, notebook shipment increased by a staggering 26% YoY, thereby generating a corresponding demand for DRAM chips. Although the movement of DRAM prices remained stable in 2020, there was a palpable growth in actual DRAM bit demand. Hence, global DRAM module revenue increased by about 5% YoY to US$16.9 billion for 2020.
Looking back at the price trend of DRAM modules for 2020, TrendForce indicates that the market adopted a relative conservative outlook going forward in view of the ongoing pandemic. In turn, various end-products differed wildly in their respective market performances as well. For instance, while demand for notebooks remained strong, smartphone demand was relatively bearish. Server shipment, on the other hand, was at the same time consistent yet indicative of uncertainties, to some degree. In light of the varying performances in the end-markets, PC DRAM prices did not undergo drastic fluctuations throughout the year, and DRAM module suppliers posted earnings performances that were a direct result of their sales strategies, with certain suppliers, including Kimtigo and ADATA, able to raise their revenues by a massive margin.
As Kingston once again took pole position, ADATA recaptured the second spot on the top 10 list
Whereas the top five suppliers accounted for nearly 90% of the DRAM module market in terms of sales revenue in 2020, the top 10 suppliers accounted for nearly 95% of the market. In particular, Kingston alone possessed a nearly 80% market share, which represented a minor drop compared to 2019 yet was sufficient for the company to secure the leadership position once again. Kingston turned to a relatively conservative sales strategy last year in response to uncertainties in the pandemic-influenced market and grew its revenue by about 2% YoY for 2020.
As PC DRAM products occupied a relatively large share of ADATA’s products, the rising popularity of WFH and distance learning, along with ADATA’s foray into the gaming segment, propelled the Taiwanese company’s revenue from DRAM module sales to a 47% YoY growth in 2020. On the other hand, Shenzhen-based Kimtigo continued to cultivate its presence in the Chinese market and saw remarkable returns in both commercial and gaming segments. Not only did Kimtigo’s revenue from its DRAM module business experience a 50% YoY growth, the highest among the top 10 suppliers last year, but its ranking also leapfrogged from sixth place in 2019 to fourth place in 2020.
Major Chinese DRAM module supplier Ramaxel fell to the third spot on the top 10 list last year, although it still recorded an 11% YoY revenue growth thanks to an increase in its annual shipment. Conversely, Smart Modular Technologies, which was ranked third in 2019, fell to sixth place in 2020. This decline can be attributed to the fact that Smart primarily sells its products in the US and South American countries such as Brazil – regions which were most heavily affected by the pandemic. As physical storefronts in these regions closed due to local health and safety measures, Smart’s revenue also suffered a 7% YoY decline. Shenzhen-based POWEV posted a 10% YoY increase in its revenue, though it still dropped to fifth place because its competitors registered higher growths.
US-based Patriot Memory joined the top 10 list for the first time ever while Team Group maintained its seventh-place ranking
Team Group performed exceptionally well in spite of the ongoing pandemic by registering a 14% YoY revenue growth. This growth took place on the backs of its continued expansion in the gaming segment and increased promotional efforts. The company’s sales volume and product ASP both experienced considerable growths as a result. Along with achieving excellent online sales performances in recent years, Team Group maintained its seventh place among the top 10. Patriot Memory, a US-based supplier which likewise specializes in the gaming segment, entered the rankings of the top 10 DRAM module suppliers for the first time and immediately took eighth place. The company will likely put up similarly impressive growths going forward.
Ninth-ranked Apacer and tenth-ranked Innodisk focused on the niche industrial automation, automotive, and AIoT markets
Taking the ninth place in 2020, Apacer was able to score a growth of about 10% YoY in its revenue from DRAM modules. The company began gradually shifting its focus to the industrial automation, medical, and automotive segments in order to benefit from supplying specialty products with high gross profits. With PC DRAM products now accounting for less than half of Apacer’s offerings, the company has also been expanding into the gaming market, which is expected to bolster the company’s operations going forward.
Tenth-ranked Innodisk increased its revenue from DRAM modules by nearly 10% in 2020 and maintained a stable profit growth that demonstrated its longstanding competency in the relatively stable industrial automation market with products that have relatively high ASPs. Innodisk has been developing not only medical and AIoT products in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also DDR5 DRAM products. Taken together, these efforts represents the company’s commitment to leveraging its existing R&D abilities for emerging commercial opportunities.
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