As growing vaccination rates worldwide starting in July lead to a gradual easing of lockdowns, the overall demand for notebook computers has also experienced a corresponding slowdown, with Chromebook demand dropping by as much as 50%, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, factors such as a wave of replacement demand for commercial notebooks in Europe and North America due to the return to physical workplaces, as well as brands’ aggressive efforts to rush out their 4Q21 shipments ahead of time due to global port congestions, became the primary drivers of notebook demand in 3Q21. Hence, annual notebook shipment for 2021 will likely reach 240 million units, a 16.4% YoY increase.
TrendForce further indicates that 4Q21 will welcome both the gradual release of new models equipped with Intel’s next-gen CPUs and a wave of replacement demand for notebooks featuring Windows 11. Even so, overall notebook shipment in 4Q21 will depend on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic and the demand for commercial notebooks. As vaccinations become even more widespread in 2022, pandemic-related spending is expected to decline as a result. TrendForce therefore expects global notebook shipment to decline by 7-8% YoY next year and reach approximately 220 million units, although this still represents a growth of 60 million units over the shipment volume for 2019, prior to the emergence of the pandemic.
Annual Chromebook shipment for 2021 is expected to reach about 36 million units in light of waning demand, while HP and Samsung suffer the brunt of the decline
Chromebook became the primary driver of overall notebook shipment in 1H21. Nevertheless, increased vaccinations in Europe, North America, and Japan in 2H21 have led to a slowdown of Chromebook demand, which mostly arose in response to the needs of distance education. Furthermore, given the relatively high penetration rate of Chromebooks, Chromebook shipment subsequently fell by more than 50% within a single month in 2H21. In particular, as Chromebooks occupy a relatively high share of notebook shipments by HP and Samsung, these companies’ notebook shipment is expected to decline by 10-20% in 2H21 compared to the first half of the year. However, the US FCC released the Emergency Connectivity Fund, which totals US$7.17 billion, in July in order to facilitate the purchase of such equipment as notebooks, tablets, and network connectivity devices by schools and libraries. This fund will likely sustain the demand for Chromebooks for the next year. For 2021, Chromebook shipment is expected to reach 36 million units.
As the workforce in Europe and North America returns to physical workplaces in 2H21, a wave of replacement demand for commercial notebooks is expected to emerge as well, with Dell benefitting the most, since commercial notebooks occupy a higher share of Dell’s notebook portfolio compared to any other brand. Dell’s average monthly shipment of commercial notebooks in 2H21 is expected to surpass 1H21 figures by about 20%. As previously mentioned, it remains to be seen whether the demand for commercial notebooks will persist in 4Q21. Furthermore, the release of new models featuring Windows 11 support and Intel’s next-gen CPUs will also generate yet another wave of replacement demand. Taking these factors into account, TrendForce expects overall notebook shipment for 4Q21 to remain relatively unchanged from 3Q21 figures in the best-case scenario, and momentum driving notebook shipment will likely persist through the end of the year.
It should be noted that the availability of semiconductor components throughout the supply chain remains limited. For instance, the persistent shortage of Wi-Fi module IC, Type C PD IC, and PMIC has created a bottleneck for notebook manufacturing, while mainstream 14-inch and 15.6-inch FHD IPS panels are also in tight supply. Conversely, demand for entry-level and mid-range 14-inch and 15.6-inch HD TN panels is gradually being met, and 11.6-inch notebook panels are starting to experience a price drop due to oversupply. As notebook demand plateaus while panel supply increases, the supply and demand of notebook panels is expected to reach an equilibrium in 4Q21.
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