Owing to its enormous population, Latin America has in recent years become a hotly contested market for smartphone brands. More specifically, the penetration rate of smartphones in Latin America rose from 32% in 2014 to 68% in 2020, with smartphone usage being the highest in Chile and Venezuela and lowest in Peru.
TrendForce’s investigations indicate that smartphone penetration rate in Brazil reached 72% in 2020 owing to high demand from young consumers and to the country’s massive population, the highest in Latin America. More than 85% of the 18-34 year old population group in the country consisted of smartphone owners, making Brazil the fourth largest smartphone market in the world behind only China, India, and the US. Notably, smartphone is the primary means of internet connection for most Brazilians.
With regards to smartphone brands, the Brazilian smartphone market is currently dominated by Samsung, Motorola (a Lenovo subsidiary), Xiaomi, LG, and Apple, with Samsung possessing the highest market share. Samsung’s success can mainly be attributed to its focus on customer experience. For instance, Samsung has established service centers in major cities including Sao Paulo and Campinas, where customers can not only experience the brand’s range of products, but also enjoy such value-added services as smartphone charging and free Wi-Fi, in addition to one-to-one consultation with Samsung staff.
As such, the company was able to achieve a 43.1% market share in Brazil last year. Trailing behind the Korean brand was Motorola, which took second place with a 20.5% market share. For the domestic market, Motorola’s handsets are manufactured by the Brazilian branch of global EMS giant Flex (previously known as Flextronics). Xiaomi rounded out the top three, with an 8.9% market share in 2020. Other Chinese smartphone brands such as OPPO, Vivo, and realme (the most aggressive among Chinese brands) have been entering the Latin American market since 2021.
Physical storefronts and one-stop-shop customer experiences are the keys to success in the Latin American smartphone market
Of course, entering the Brazilian market is no easy feat. TrendForce notes that some of the challenges involved with expanding in Brazil include the drastic movements of the Brazilian Real’s value as well as the country’s sky-high import duties, which have resulted in high retail prices for smartphones. Furthermore, shifts in domestic policies regarding smartphone manufacturing and online sales mean that smartphone brands must now establish domestic facilities for smartphone assembly. Apart from the high costs of domestic labor and components, Brazil’s taxes alone are able to significantly cannibalize the profitability of smartphone sales.
An appropriate case in point is Xiaomi’s 2015 venture into the Brazilian smartphone market. Xiaomi made its exit within a year of entering Brazil. Aside from the aforementioned high import duties, the company’s premature exodus took place because its online-based sales strategy was ill-suited for Brazil, where smartphone customers made purchases predominantly through major retail stores, and fewer than 20% of customers bought smartphones online.
Combined with Brazil’s prohibitive transportation costs, Xiaomi found itself unable to leverage its advantage of affordably priced handsets. Fast forward to 2019, however, as the Latin American market saw increased smartphone penetration, Xiaomi once again made its entrance, this time by focusing on developing its offline presence, including physical storefronts (called “Mi Stores”) in Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico, and Chile, which allowed it to score its first win in the Latin American smartphone market.
The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic last year prompted enterprises to accelerate their digital transformation efforts. As such, the year 2020 marked the turning point for the AR/VR industry, with an increasing number of global enterprises now paying close attention to AR/VR headsets and applications. Two such applications which show the most significant short-term growth are “virtual collaboration platform” and “remote support”, particularly in the relatively small-scale AR headset markets.
TrendForce indicates that annual AR headset shipment is expected to increase from 580,000 units in 2020 to 1.3 million units in 2021; on the VR headset front, annual shipment is expected to increase from 4.43 million units in 2020 to 5.65 million units in 2021, with the key enablers of these shipment growths being entertainment applications from the consumer side and commercial applications from the enterprise side.
It should be noted that, however, as VR headsets have lower prices and technical barriers to entry compared to AR headsets, many companies are opting to purchase consumer VR headsets for use in commercial applications. Despite the growth of the AR/VR headset market in recent years, the ongoing shortage of semiconductor components is expected to put some downward pressure on these headsets’ shipments this year.
Enterprise demand is the primary driver of telecom companies’ efforts to combine 5G with AR/VR applications
With remote commercial applications generating an increasing demand for AR/VR headsets, use cases such as remote interaction and real-time sharing of 3D objects will require an enormous amount of network bandwidth. Likewise, the demand for low-latency and smooth user experiences will continue to drive 5G demand from the commercial sector, thereby compelling major telecom companies such as Ericsson, China Mobile, NTT DoCoMo, and Chunghwa Telecom to release dedicated 5G plans geared specifically for AR/VR applications in order to ensure the highest quality connections for these applications.
For telecom companies, building 5G infrastructure demands an enormous cost, but the current use of smartphones is unable to completely saturate the total 5G bandwidth. In other words, telecom companies are unable to recuperate their 5G investment costs, and this predicament is what led them to seek out other applications/products that can potentially make use of 5G connectivity, such as IoT, video streaming, and AR/VR.
What should suppliers that aim to enter the AR/VR markets pay attention to?
TrendForce believes that suppliers wishing to enter the AR/VR markets must take into consideration two factors, which are “cost” and “profit distribution”. First of all, both AR/VR headsets and dedicated 5G connections require enormous investment costs. Most companies involved in these applications are therefore still in the small-scale trial period at the moment.
Given the limited funding that these companies are allocating, real-life user experience has suffered as a result, leading to a reduced willingness by potential clients to continue adopting AR/VR solutions going forward. For instance, if network infrastructures do not provide sufficiently comprehensive coverage or sufficiently high bandwidth, the resultant latency or signal loss can lead to poor remote collaboration experiences on the user side.
The second issue that suppliers must confront has to do with profit distribution. Most AR/VR solutions are provided to users at a flat subscription fee which covers the costs of AR/VR headsets, 5G network connections, and software platforms. This type of flat fee structure is attractive for customers as it is relatively simple and straightforward.
However, on the supply side, the fair distribution of profits among AR/VR headset suppliers, telecom companies, and software platform vendors remains a critical issue. In particular, since AR/VR headsets and 5G networks are all extremely costly, along with the fact that the 5G rollout is still in its infancy, unfair distribution of profits can potentially lead to certain suppliers being unwilling to participate in the AR/VR market in the long run.
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.
While the stay-at-home economy generated high demand for notebook computers from distance learning and WFH applications last year, global notebook shipment for 2020 underwent a nearly 26% YoY increase, which represented a significant departure from the cyclical 3% YoY increase/decrease that had historically taken place each year, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The uptrend in notebook demand is expected to persist in 2021, during which notebook shipment will likely reach 236 million units, a 15% YoY increase. In particular, thanks to the surging demand for education notebooks, Chromebooks will become the primary growth driver in the notebook market. Regarding the shipment performance of various brands, Samsung and Apple will register the highest growths, with the former having Chromebooks account for nearly 50% of its total notebook shipment this year and the latter continuing to release MacBooks equipped with the M1 chip.
Chromebooks have been accounting for an increasingly high share in the notebook market in recent years, and Chromebook shipment is expected to reach a historical peak this year at 47 million units, a staggering 50% YoY growth. The vast majority (70%) of global Chromebook demand comes from the US, while Japan takes second place with 10%. However, the US education notebook market is gradually saturated with Chromebooks, and the general public has also been returning to physical workplaces and classrooms following the lifting of domestic restrictions. In addition, the Japanese GIGA School program, which equips student with computers and internet access, has notably slowed down its notebook procurement. The global demand for education notebooks will therefore slightly lose momentum in 2H21.
Regarding notebook brands, as Chromebooks occupy a relatively large allocation of notebook shipment by Acer and Samsung, the two companies are likely to bear the brunt of the education market’s downturn. TrendForce therefore believes that the Chromebook market’s growth going forward will mainly depend on regions outside the US as well as non-education applications.
Global demand for notebooks will decelerate in 2H21, with the bulk of the slowdown taking place in 4Q21
It should be pointed out that certain recent rumors claim that the demand for notebooks will decline in 2H21. This decline can be primarily attributed to the fact that notebook brands are increasingly finding Chromebooks’ low margins to be unprofitable, while 11.6-inch panels, which are used in 70% of all Chromebooks, have also skyrocketed in price, and certain semiconductor components are in shortage. In light of these factors, brands are starting to lower the share of Chromebooks in their overall notebook production for 2H21. TrendForce expects consumer demand in Europe and the US to gradually weaken in 3Q21. However, low inventory levels in the channel markets will still generate some upward momentum propelling the notebook market. Hence, quarterly notebook shipment in 3Q21 is expected to remain unchanged compared to 2Q21.
Furthermore, the pandemic has gradually been brought under control in Europe and the US due to increased vaccinations. Therefore, the slowdown of demand in the overall notebook market and in education sector bids will not come into force until 4Q21, during which notebook shipment is expected to reach 58 million units, a 3% QoQ decrease. At the same time, the fact that notebook manufacturers overbooked certain components, which subsequently resulted in additional inventory, will likely have implications in 4Q21 as well. Going forward, although notebook demand will likely slow in 2022, the normalization of the hybrid-work model as well as the recovering demand for business notebooks will provide some upward momentum for annual notebook shipment next year, which will reach 220 million units, a minor downward correction of 6% YoY.
For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Display Research, please click here, or email Ms. Vivie Liu from the Sales Department at email@example.com
Although the stay-at-home economy has persisted through 2021, governments in Europe and the US are starting to lift restrictions in light of increased vaccinations. As such, it remains to be seen whether notebook computers will continue to experience strong demand and whether global notebook shipment will change accordingly.
TrendForce indicates that the YoY changes in annual notebook shipment for 2015-2019 remained within 3%, and about 160-165 million units were shipped each year during this period. However, as WFH and distance education became the norm due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s emergence in 2020, demand for notebooks has risen accordingly; global notebook shipment for 2021 is expected to reach 237 million units, a 15% YoY increase.
Nonetheless, TrendForce also believes that the easing of restrictions in Europe and the US in 2H21 will somewhat weaken the pandemic-generated demand for notebooks. While global notebook shipment for 2022 is expected to reach 222 million units, Chromebooks in particular will likely experience a double-digit decline. Shipments of other product categories, namely, business notebooks or consumer notebooks, are expected to decline by nearly 5%.
Chromebooks have been occupying an increasing share of the overall notebook market, from 11% in 2019 to 15% in 2020 and 20% in 2021. Volume-wise, the upward trajectory of Chromebooks has been nothing short of impressive. Chromebook shipment for 2020 reached 31.17 million units, a staggering 87% YoY increase. This momentum is expected to continue into 2021, during which annual Chromebook shipment will likely reach 46.87 million units, thereby becoming an indispensable driver of the global notebook market’s growth.
The US market accounts for the bulk（about 70%）of global Chromebook demand this year. That is why the near saturation of the US education notebook market and the impending return to physical locations for work and study after restrictions have been eased will lead to a slowdown of global education notebook demand.
At the same time, there will likely be a corresponding decline in demand for notebooks used in WFH applications, including business and consumer notebooks. TrendForce, therefore, believes that demand in the notebook market will peak in 2021 and slightly taper off in 2022.