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2021-01-06

Global Notebook Computer Shipment Expected to Reach 217 Million Units in 2021, with Chromebooks Accounting for 18.5% of Total Shipment, Says TrendForce

Owing to the stay-at-home economy brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, not only did yearly notebook computer shipment surpass 200 million units for the first time ever, but the 22.5% YoY growth was also the highest on record, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations.

However, in comparison with 2Q20, during which production lines resumed operations, and notebook demand saw an uptick, the current global market is plagued by the ever-intensifying pandemic, with various countries instating border control and lockdown measures, making it impossible at the moment to accurately forecast the state of the notebook market in 2H21. Nevertheless, TrendForce currently expects global notebook shipment for 2021 to reach 217 million units, an 8.1% increase YoY. Incidentally, it should be noted that the increasing popularity of distance education has also galvanized a rising demand for Chromebooks, which have contributed substantially to the growth of the overall market. Chromebooks accounted for 14.8% of the global notebook shipment in 2020, while this rate is expected to rise to 18.5% in 2021.

As WFH becomes the new normal for office work, online meeting functionalities will be a major focus of business notebook designs

Since 2020, various companies worldwide have announced the implementation of WFH measures, with certain companies adopting WFH until September this year. In order to meet the audiovisual demands of online meetings, as well as the personal and entertainment needs of end users, notebook brands have been making improvements to their business notebooks’ functionalities, including AI, camera modules, sound quality, background noise removal, and image qualities. In particular, HP, Dell, and Lenovo are each releasing new mid-range and high-end mixed-use business notebooks in response to the commercial opportunities generated by the aforementioned user demands. Demand for this product category is expected to peak in 1H21 and in turn massively raise overall notebook shipment for the period as well.

In addition to mixed-use business notebooks, the new normal in the post-pandemic era has compelled brands to quickly establish dominance in the Chromebook market as well. Although Chromebook shipment reached 29.6 million units in 2020, an impressive 74% YoY growth for year, current demand from most educational markets has yet to be met. This, along with continued Chromebook adoption in Central America, South America, and the Asia-Pacific regions, resulted in peak Chromebook demand. At the moment, TrendForce projects yearly Chromebook shipment to exceed 40 million units in 2021, a 37% YoY growth. Moreover, given Google’s aggressive product strategies, this projection may have even further room for growth.

Continued high demand for Chromebooks has resulted in shifts in the OS and CPU markets

With regards to operating systems, Windows remains the dominant choice in the notebook market. However, due to the rapid growth of Chromebooks in 2020, Windows’ market share dropped below 80% for the first time ever. Windows is unlikely to recover its lost market shares in the short run, since its decline is expected to persist going forward. TrendForce expects the market shares of Windows, Chrome OS, and MacOS to each stabilize at about 70-75%, 15-20%, and below 10%, respectively.

With regards to notebook CPUs, AMD’s Zen+ microarchitecture-based CPUs saw a major uptick in notebook adoption in 2019, with about an 11.4% market share. This figure rose to 20.1% in 2020 after a period of product ramp-up. In particular, the Ryzen 3000 series CPUs have been receiving excellent market feedback in the entry-level and mid-range notebook segments, thereby convincing notebook brands to start equipping their Chromebooks with AMD CPUs, bringing about a further and considerable growth in AMD’s market share.

The Apple Silicon M1 processors, based on the ARM architecture and officially released in November 2020, reached a mere 0.8% market share for the year. Apple adopted the ARM architecture primarily to optimize MacBook performances. Along with the release of Apple Silicon M1, Apple has also completed the integration between its hardware, software, and SaaS platforms. The company is expected to release 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros, both of which will be equipped with Apple’s in-house CPUs, after 2Q21, raising Apple’s notebook market share to about 7%. The 7% and 20% market shares from Apple and AMD, respectively, mean that Intel will be faced with increasing competitive pressure in the market and need to deliver an appropriate product strategy in response.

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 vivieliu@trendforce.com

2021-01-05

Global Smartphone Production Expected to Reach 1.36 Billion Units in 2021 as Huawei Drops Out of Top-Six Ranking, Says TrendForce

Owing to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, global smartphone production reached a mere 1.25 billion units in 2020, a record-breaking 11% YoY decrease, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The top six smartphone brands ranked by production volume for 2020, in order, are Samsung, Apple, Huawei, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo. The most glaring change from the previous year is Huawei’s market share.

TrendForce indicates that Honor will formally separate from Huawei and operate as an independent smartphone maker at the start of 2021. The aim behind this spin-off is to ensure the survival of Honor, which has become a major brand in the global smartphone market after years of labor. However, it remains to be seen whether the “new” Honor can capture consumers’ attention without the support from Huawei. Also, Huawei and the new Honor will be directly competing against each other in the future, especially if the former is somehow freed from the U.S. trade sanctions at a later time. With the new Honor seeking to ramp up production, Huawei will have more difficulty in regaining market share for smartphones.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, TrendForce believes that the global smartphone market will gradually recover as people become accustomed to the “new normal” resulting from the pandemic. Moreover, this year will likely see a relatively strong wave of device replacement demand as well as demand growth in the emerging markets. Assuming that these conditions will materialize, the annual global smartphone production for 2021 is forecasted to increase by 9% to 1.36 billion units. Regarding the annual global ranking of smartphone brands for 2021, Huawei will experience a further and significant decline in its device production. This is because of the effects of the U.S. export restrictions and the spin-off of Honor as a separate entity operating in the smartphone market. Huawei is currently projected to tumble from third place in 2020 to seventh place in 2021. The top six for 2021, in order, will be Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO, Vivo, and Transsion. Together, they will account for almost 80% of the global smartphone market. Nevertheless, the pandemic will remain the central variable (or the biggest uncertainty) in the production projection because it will continue to exert significant influence on the global economy. Besides the pandemic, the performance of smartphone brands during 2021 could also be affected by geopolitical instabilities and the lack of available production capacity in the semiconductor foundry market.

Penetration rate of 5G smartphones is likely to rise to 37% in 2021, while production will still be constrained by limited foundry capacities

Thanks to the Chinese government’s aggressive push for 5G commercialization in 2020, global 5G smartphone production for the year reached about 240 million units, a 19% penetration rate, with Chinese brands accounting for almost a 60% market share. While 5G will remain a major topic in the smartphone market this year, various countries will also resume their 5G infrastructure build-out, and mobile processor manufacturers will continue to release entry-level and mid-range 5G chips. As such, the penetration rate of 5G smartphones is expected to undergo a rapid increase to 37% in 2021, for a yearly production of about 500 million units.

It should be noted that, under the optimistic assumption that the pandemic can be resolved within the year, shipment for various end-products, including servers, smartphones, and notebook computers, will undergo a YoY increase compared to 2020. Case in point, the number of PMICs and CIS (CMOS image sensors) contained per handset will each double in order to meet increased smartphone specifications. On the other hand, major Chinese foundry SMIC has recently been added to the Entity List once again. This is expected to exacerbate the foundry industry’s already-strained production capacity.

TrendForce indicates that smartphone brands’ recent bullish outlook towards the 2021 market and their attempt to secure more semiconductor supplies by increasing their smartphone production targets can potentially lead these brands to overbook certain components at foundries. However, smartphone brands may adjust their component inventories from 2Q21 to 3Q21 and reduce their semiconductor procurement activities if actual sales performances fall short of expectations, or if component bottlenecks remain unresolved, leading to a widening inventory gap between bottlenecked and non-bottlenecked parts. Even so, TrendForce still forecasts an above-90% capacity utilization rate for foundries in 2021.

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms. Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforce.com

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