Sony stated in an earnings call that PS5 shipments totaled only 11.5 million units in the last fiscal year (2Q21 to 1Q22), missing the target of 14.8 million units. Increasing PS5 game console production will be the company’s main task for now and sales are expected to rise to 18 million units this fiscal year. In addition, Sony also stated that it will strengthen live broadcast services and extend game services to other devices, as well as step up its VR business.
PS5 sales will continue to grow in 2022 but market instability remains
Although Sony had high expectations going into the launch of the PS5 and market reception was good, the PS5’s final sales volume was stifled by production hamstrung as a result of component shortages. Therefore, Sony specifically mentioned in the Business Segment Briefings, comparing US retailer events sold PS4 to the PS5, the PS4 sold an average of 6 units per minute, while the PS5 now sells approximately 1,000 units per minute, demonstrating the strong market demand for PS5.
At the beginning of the PS5 release, there were reports of an insufficient supply of components. When the PS5 was released at the end of 2020, it had been in production for several months and accumulated a certain amount of inventory. Even if production capacity was in short supply when the console was released, Sony could still meet some market demand in the first year with its inventory and then increase production capacity in 2021 to make up the difference. However, in 2021, semiconductor production capacity was also in short supply. Not only game console products, but numerous other products experienced a shortage of components. Naturally, Sony was unable to further increase the supply of PS5 consoles, resulting in PS5 sales coming in lower than originally expected. Sales even declined in 1Q22. As the imbalance between supply and demand of semiconductors gradually eases in 2022, Sony predicts that PS5 production will begin to increase to fulfill market demand and announced a sales target for this fiscal year of 18 million units.
Even so, there remain many uncertainties in 2022. First of all, although pandemic lockdowns in China have yet to directly affect the assembly and production of game consoles in Shandong, the risk of potential fallout still exists given the uncertainty of pandemic development. Secondly, demand from the overall consumer market may be exhausted in 2022. This is due to unfavorable factors such as inflation, wars, pandemics, and rising energy prices. Disposable income in 2022 is forecast to shrink as a result and force consumers to give up some non-essentials or delay purchases. So this may cause consumers to delay replacing their current console with a PS5. A combination of the original dearth of PS5 supply and the impact of the scalper market seriously depleted the stock of products on the market. Some consumers who were eager to enjoy new console games may have switched over to buying an Xbox Series X/S first which may contribute to PS5’s 2022 annual sales volume falling short of Sony’s estimate. TrendForce expects that volume will only reach 14.34 million units. Even if this forecast references the range of Sony’s fiscal year (2Q22 to 1Q23), estimated sales volume will only increase to 16 million units.
At Gamescom 2021, Microsoft announced that it will extend its game streaming service (Xbox Cloud Gaming) from PC and mobile devices to game consoles starting on Christmas Day this year. In addition to supporting the new consoles Xbox Series X/S, Xbox Cloud Gaming will also be compatible with the Xbox One models. TrendForce’s investigations indicate that the Nintendo Switch remains the mainstream option in the consumer market and is expected to reach 30.13 million units in annual sales for 2021. The PlayStation 5 consoles, which have been in severe shortage since its release, will take second place with annual sales of 17.61 million units, while the Xbox Series X/S will take third place with 8.66 million units sold this year.
Xbox One owners will comprise the majority of Xbox Cloud Gaming users on game console platforms
Microsoft has been making long-term efforts to promote cloud-based game streaming services. One such example includes the improvements that it made to its web browser to better support Xbox Cloud Gaming and permit the service to run on PC and mobile devices, with official PC and iOS releases taking place in June 2021. Microsoft’s announcement of game console compatibility with Xbox Cloud Gaming represents yet another step taken by the company towards its goal of extending game streaming services to all platforms.
As previously mentioned, Xbox Cloud Gaming supports not only the latest Xbox Series X and S consoles, but also the previous-gen Xbox One models. This wide compatibility can primarily be attributed to the fact that game streaming services have relatively low hardware requirements, thereby making it compatible across virtually all console hardware. The other reason is Microsoft’s aim to quickly expand the user base of Xbox Cloud Gaming. After all, very few people currently possess Xbox Series X/S consoles because these consoles have only been recently released, and their sale volumes have been constrained by the severe shortage of electronic components. Hence, the ability to quickly expand Xbox Cloud Gaming’s user base is contingent on adoption by current owners of Xbox One consoles, whose total cumulative sales are relatively high by now.
Going forward, Microsoft is expected to leverage the attraction of Xbox Cloud Gaming to draw consumers to purchase the Xbox Series X/S through the Xbox All Access installment payment plans. This is also why Microsoft is aggressively collaborating with and acquiring game developers, as having more games playable through Xbox Cloud Gaming will make the service more attractive to consumers.
Xbox Cloud Gaming will likely reduce the willingness of existing Xbox One owners to buy new consoles
Microsoft’s core strategy revolves around its platform and service. By attracting consumers through service first, Microsoft will then be able to raise the sales of its hardware. Put another way, increased hardware sales result in an expanded user base, which will further result in increased earnings through both platform and service.
Hence, the initial sales performances of the Xbox Series X/S are not a point of focus for Microsoft. If the company is able to expand its user base, Microsoft does not even necessarily need to ensure the popularity of the Xbox Series X/S. It can instead potentially release other modified models that are better suited for game streaming services or even simpler, dedicated game streaming boxes. However, in consideration of other services such as Xbox Live Gold, as well as earnings from players that do not subscribe to game streaming services, Microsoft must still maintain a range of game consoles that can compete with the PS5 in terms of specs.
Although Microsoft’s core strategy is in alignment with its software services for the PC market, such as Office and Windows, the heavy push for Xbox Cloud Gaming will inadvertently lower the console replacement demand of existing Xbox One owners. Furthermore, the difference in hardware specifications between the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S will also complicate the software development process for game developers, in turn reducing the willingness of developers to create games for the latest Xbox consoles and affecting the sales performances of the Xbox Series X/S.
Therefore, it makes sense that despite the similar specs between the Xbox Series X and the PS5, their sales numbers differ wildly. At any rate, the Switch will remain the sales leader in the game console market in 2021, with the PS5 experiencing a gradual sales growth and the latest Xbox consoles lagging behind.
As the Taiwanese IPC (industrial PC) market suffered from deferred orders due to supply chain and logistical disruptions that took place in 1H20, total domestic IPC revenue for 1H20 reached NT$105.4 billion, a 4.7% YoY decrease, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, given that the pandemic was gradually brought under control in 1H21, the market was able to benefit from strong demand from China’s 5G infrastructure rollout, as well as from expanded investments by Europe and the US in public infrastructures such as roads and railways aimed at facilitating an economic recovery. Hence, Taiwan’s IPC revenue for 1H21 reached NT$115.1 billion, a 9.2% YoY increase.
Regarding the financial performances of the top 10 IPC suppliers in Taiwan for 1H21, Ennoconn secured first place with a revenue of NT$42.95 billion, a 16.7% YoY increase. After its acquisition spree that began in 2010, Ennoconn is currently attempting to integrate its various subsidiaries’ technologies and resources in order to make headways in certain emerging technologies, including industrial automation, machine vision, HMI, and cloud services. Going forward, Ennoconn will cultivate its presence in the EV, smart healthcare, and smart retail sectors.
For 1H21, runner-up Advantech posted a revenue of NT$27.37 billion, an 8.2% YoY increase. While Advantech previously favored an acquisition-driven strategy, the company is now expanding into the smart healthcare, smart manufacturing, and smart city sectors primarily through technological partnerships and equity investments. Backed by its WISE-PaaS platform, Advantech continues to expand into the global markets by investing in overseas ISV (independent software vendors) and SI (systems integrators) in the aforementioned sectors.
DFI earned a third-place ranking in 1H21 with a revenue of NT$5.28 billion, a 25.2% YoY increase. After becoming part of the Qisda fleet in 2017, DFI subsequently went on to acquire telecom and information security solutions supplier AEWIN as well as industrial automation vendor Ace Pillar in 2019. These activities culminated in an annual revenue of NT$8.35 billion, an 18.8% YoY increase, for DFI in 2020. DFI currently specializes in smart manufacturing, smart healthcare, and intelligent transportation systems/infrastructures.
AI accelerator suppliers and IPC suppliers work in tandem to clearly define the AI value chain
IPC products have been widely used in AIoT and IIoT applications in recent years due to the proliferation of edge computing. As such, these products have also become the key determinant of how rapidly industries can adopt AI technologies such as machine vision. At the same time, IPC suppliers’ unique position in the mid-stream AI value chain means they are responsible for bridging the gap between upstream AI accelerator suppliers (including Intel, AMD, and Nvidia) and downstream ISV/SI.
With regards to the upstream AI value chain, Intel and AMD acquired independent FPGA suppliers Altera and Xilinx, respectively, in order to achieve more comprehensive heterogeneous computing competencies via horizontal integration. On the other hand, midstream IPC suppliers have been vertically integrating with downstream ISV/SI either independently or collectively through JVs, technological collaborations, strategic alliances, or M&A. For instance, Advantech and ADLINK are now operating on multi-strategy models as well as strategic collaboration models respectively, while Ennoconn and DFI are operating on M&A-oriented models.
On the whole, TrendForce expects that, as AI accelerator suppliers and IPC suppliers push integration forward in the AI value chain, not only will an increasing number of IPC products based on heterogeneous computing platforms be released to market, but emerging AI technologies such as machine vision will also see increased penetration in industrial automation applications. Hence, TrendForce expects annual machine vision revenue to reach US$86 billion in 2025.