Articles


2021-05-12

After Five Consecutive Quarters of Uptrend, Is There More Room for TV Panel Prices to Grow?

The stay-at-home economy brought about a soaring demand for TVs, which in turn resulted in a shortage of TV panels in 2H20, according to TrendForce. Also contributing to the bullish rebound of TV panel quotes last year was the fact that most panel manufacturers rapidly decreased their supply of TV panels around this time.

After the upturn of panel quotes kicked off in late 2Q20 and came to a temporary slowdown at the end of the year, this upward momentum once again intensified in mid 1Q21 without warning, and clients on the purchasing end were caught off guard as a result.

TV brands are now at the mercy of panel suppliers since panels are an irreplaceable component in the production of TV sets. Being unable to effectively address the shortage and price hike of TV panels during the current surge in TV sales, TV brands have no choice but to react by buying up TV panels as they become available, thereby further driving up prices of TV panels.

Upward trajectory of TV panel quotes will likely taper in 3Q21 after TV brands successfully retool their procurement strategies.

The movement of prices in the panel market suggests that TV panel quotes will most likely peak at the end of 2Q21, plateau throughout 3Q21, and face downward pressure caused by an expected easing of demand for TVs in 4Q21. Although fourth quarters have traditionally been peak seasons for TV sales, TrendForce expects such major seasonal discounts as Black Friday sales to be cancelled this year in light of persistently high panel prices. TV sales in 4Q21 are therefore expected to be relatively muted as well.

On the other hand, as more and more of the general public receive vaccines, recreational activities, at least in developed countries such as the US, are expected to gradually move from the confines of indoor environments to the great outdoors.

Should this transition take place, TV brands and distributors alike will conservatize their outlooks of TV sales and of safe inventory levels, respectively, with brands lowering their panel procurement and distributors performing appropriate inventory adjustments. TrendForce analysts expect that TV panel quotes will enter a bearish trend in 4Q21 and gradually return to a cyclical downturn in 1H22.

(Cover image source: Samsung Newsroom Taiwan)

2021-05-12

Foxconn Dominates ODM Server Market by Taking Nearly 50% of AWS/Azure Server Business

The “new normal” in the post-pandemic era has seen the meteoric rise of high-speed and high-bandwidth 5G applications, which subsequently brought about a corresponding increase in cloud services demand. As such, the global server shipment for 2021 will likely reach 13.6 million units, a 5.4% increase YoY. As commercial opportunities in white-box servers begin to emerge, Taiwanese ODMs, including Quanta, Wiwynn, and Foxconn are likely to benefit.

The prevailing business model of the server supply chain involves having the ODM responsible for the design, hardware installation, and assembly processes, after which servers are delivered to server brands (such as HPE, Dell, Inspur, and Lenovo), which then sell the servers to end-clients. In contrast, a new business model has recently started to emerge; this business model involves having server ODMs responsible for manufacturing specific and customized server hardware, available directly for purchase by such end-clients as cloud service providers, thereby bypassing brands as the middlemen.

With regards to market share, Foxconn accounts for nearly half of the total server demand from Microsoft Azure and from AWS, while Quanta accounts for about 60-65% of Facebook’s server demand.

According to TrendForce’s investigations, ODMs including Quanta, Inventec, Foxconn, Wiwynn, and QCT have all received server orders from clients in the cloud services sector in 1H21. In particular, both Quanta and Inventec received orders from Microsoft Azure, AWS, Facebook, and Google Cloud. With regards to market share, Foxconn accounts for nearly half of the total server demand from Microsoft Azure and from AWS, while Quanta accounts for about 60-65% of Facebook’s server demand, in turn giving Foxconn and Quanta the lion’s shares in the ODM market.

The aforementioned Taiwanese ODMs have been aggressive in growing their presence in the private industrial 5G network and edge computing markets, with Quanta subsidiary QCT being a good case in point as an ODM that supplies servers to both telecom operators and private industrial networks for these clients’ respective 5G infrastructures build-outs.

More specifically, QCT stated the following in a press release dated Jan. 4, 2021:

“Quanta Cloud Technology (QCT), a global data center solution provider, independently developed Taiwan’s first 5G standalone (SA) core network, which recently passed interoperability and performance verifications for 5G Open Network Lab operated by Taiwan’s Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI). The core network was successfully connected to partner radio access networks (RAN) and third-party user equipment, realizing end-to-end 5G signal transmission from edge to core and achieving significant acceleration in both uplink and downlink speeds.”

In response to the edge computing demand generated by global 5G commercialization efforts, Wiwynn recently released the EP100 server, which is a 5G edge computing solution compliant with the OCP openEDGE specification. Developed in collaboration with U.S.-based 5G software solutions provider Radisys, the EP100 can function as an O-DU or an O-CU depending on the various 5G RAN needs of telecom operators.

Furthermore, Wiwynn is continuing to develop the next generation of edge computing servers targeted at the enterprise networking and edge computing segments.

Foxconn, on the other hand, has been focusing on developing vertical solutions for private industrial 5G networks. Foxconn’s hardware infrastructure offerings include edge computing servers, TSN network switches, and gateways. The company also offers a slew of software solutions such as data management platforms and other apps, hosted by Asia Pacific Telecom. Last but not least, Foxconn recently announced an additional US$35.6 million investment in its Wisconsin project; this injection of capital will make the company well equipped to meet the demand for servers as well as 5G O-RAN and other telecom equipment.

(Cover image source:Pixabay)

2021-05-12

Despite Domestic Drought, Taiwan Remains King in the World of Semiconductors

A small subtropical island off the coast of southeast China, Taiwan is subject to certain cyclical weather changes throughout the year, the most notorious of which is its yearly typhoons that at different times benefit its agricultural industry and cause various natural disasters.

Much like everything else that happened in 2020, last year marked a stark exception for the island’s climate, which saw no typhoons, resulting in a relatively dry year. Compounding the issue is the current season of low precipitation. Taken together, these factors have since resulted in a significant drought that required an all-hands-on-deck approach from the government, such as rationing water on specific weekdays and advising industries to cut down on water consumption.

Meanwhile, a similar drought has been taking place in the global semiconductor world. As the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic last year brought fundamental changes to the way we work, study, and live, so too has the general public’s consumption of electronic devices – and, in turn, the worldwide demand for chips used in these devices – risen.

If there are bumps in the road to Taiwanese foundries’ continued dominance, lack of rain certainly isn’t one.

Seeing as how Taiwan is the central hub of the world’s advanced semiconductor technologies, acts as home to industry leader TSMC (which is the exclusive supplier of Apple’s M1 processors), and accounts for more than half of the world’s chip manufacturing capacity, industries and media alike are fearing that the domestic drought will exacerbate the current global chip shortage, since chip fabrication processes require enormous amounts of clean water.

However, true to its market leadership, the Taiwanese semiconductor industry has so far remained unaffected, at least on the supply side, by the water shortage. This is in part due to the fact that domestic foundries (i.e., chip manufacturers) have previously completed numerous drills related to worst-case scenarios of long droughts and are accordingly well prepared in these extenuating circumstances. Furthermore, the foundries also signed contracts with utility companies to ensure an ample supply of water to keep fabs (semiconductor fabrication plants) running via water tank trucks.

TrendForce therefore expects domestic foundry operations to continue unabated for the time being. Case in point, on April 15, TSMC announced an increased capital expenditure of US$30 billion for 2021. The foundry is also actively expanding its production capacity of mature technology processes in response to the growing demand from clients worldwide.

In the world of semiconductors, advancements in process technologies occupy merely one part of the equation when it comes to long-term success. Other requirements pertain to governmental, infrastructural, climate, procedural, and talent-related dimensions, just to name a few.

While Taiwanese foundries look for a way out of the ongoing drought, they are not only acing these requirements in spades, but also staying in the spotlight of the electronics supply chain in light of geopolitical tensions, oligopolistic market trends, and the persistent global health crisis. If there are bumps in the road to Taiwanese foundries’ continued dominance, lack of rain certainly isn’t one.

(Cover image source:TrendForce)

2021-05-10

Growth in Total Smartphone Production for 2021 Drops to 8.5% YoY Due to India’s Second Wave of Coronavirus, Says TrendForce

TrendForce’s investigations find that India has become the second largest market for smartphones since 2019. However, the recent worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country has severely impaired India’s domestic economy and subsequently dampened various smartphone brands’ production volume and sales (sell-in) performances there. TrendForce is therefore revising the forecasted YoY growth in global smartphone production for 2021 from 9.4% down to 8.5%, with a yearly production volume of 1.36 billion units and potential for further decreases going forward.

TrendForce further indicates that the top five smartphone brands (Samsung, Apple, Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo) have either set up assembly plants in India or sought assistance from EMS providers with operations in the country. Hence, the share of made-in-India smartphones has been on the rise over the years, even though the majority of the domestically manufactured devices are still for meeting the demand of the home market. Judging from the current state of Indian smartphone manufacturing, TrendForce expects the second wave to reduce the country’s smartphone production volume for 2Q21 and 3Q21 by a total of 12 million units, in turn resulting in a 7.5% YoY decrease in smartphone production in India for the whole year.

In India, the second wave of COVID-19 has heavily impacted the middle and upper classes and weakened the sales of smartphones in 2Q21

India’s demographic dividend has generated an enormous demand in the domestic smartphone market. As well, the Indian government has been actively promoting domestic electronics manufacturing so as to boost the economy and create new job opportunities. On one hand, the Indian government has instituted a more restrictive tariff policy to force the localization of the supply chain. On the other hand, it is offering incentives to international smartphone brands so that they will expand the share of local device production. According to local news, people from the more affluent middle and upper classes are being hit the hardest by the second wave. This development will directly impact the country’s smartphone market in 2Q21 by weakening domestic consumer demand and in turn causing a drop in the ASP of smartphones. Smartphone brands are therefore expected to closely monitor their inventories of whole devices and adjust their subsequent production plans accordingly.

The top four smartphone brands in India, which are Xiaomi, OPPO, Samsung, and Vivo, with respective market shares of 25%, 23%, 22%, and 16%, collectively account for about 86% of the country’s total sales. As these brands primarily focus on the US$100-$250 product segment, the worsening pandemic has had an impact on all of them. With regards to manufacturing operations, most factories are reportedly operating normally without being disrupted by the pandemic. However, the accelerated spread of the coronavirus may adversely affect the lower and middle classes, who comprise the vast majority of the labor force. Should the health crisis in India remain unaddressed, TrendForce believes that the country’s import/export operations may come to a standstill as a result, and transportation of key smartphone components may also be disrupted.

On the whole, if the pandemic were to remain uncontained in India throughout 2Q21, then the country’s economic outlook for 2H21 would likely be less than optimistic, and there would be a further reduction in global smartphone production for the year. If these developments were to take place, then TrendForce proposes a “bear case scenario” in which the global smartphone production for the year increases by less than 8% YoY.

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

2021-04-28

Shipment of Apple’s Mini LED iPad Pro Expected to Reach Five Million Units in 2021 Thanks to Improved Display Technology, Says TrendForce

During Apple’s Spring Loaded event, the Cupertino company announced the upcoming release of its latest 12.9-inch iPad Pro models featuring Mini LED display technology. According to TrendForce’s latest investigations, demand for the 12.9-inch iPad Pro has already been relatively high in the niche markets.

Thus, given the thorough improvement in specs as well as the very slight price hike of merely $100 over the previous generation, TrendForce is not only revising up its shipment forecast for the 2021 version of the 12-inch iPad Pro from four million units to five million units this year, but also expecting this product to account for a 3.1% share in the global tablet market, compared to the previous forecast of 2.5%.

TrendForce analyst Max Chen indicates three key areas of observation with respect to Apple’s latest flagship tablet: technology cost, retail price, and product spec. First, in terms of technology cost, the Mini LED backlight used in the new 12.9-inch iPad Pro costs about US$85 more than the traditional edge-lit LED backlight used in the previous generation.

Second, in terms of retail price, the entry-level 128GB model of the 12.9-inch Mini LED iPad Pro retails for $1,099, which is only $100 higher than the equivalent model of the previous generation. As such, the price hike in the latest model is, for the most part, a result of the increased cost of Mini LED backlights, rather than wholly being an attempt at driving up profit margins. The modest price hike is therefore an indication of Apple’s desire to become the gold standard in the tablet market by adopting Mini LED backlight technology.

Finally, in terms of product spec, the latest 12.9-inch Mini LED iPad Pro is equipped with Apple’s high-end Liquid Retina XDR technology, which gives the tablet a max full-screen brightness of 1,000 nits, peak brightness of 1,600 nits, and contrast ratio of 1,000,000:1, with the peak brightness and contrast ratio both being firsts in the tablet industry.

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that the latest tablet is equipped with 10,384 Mini LED chips, divided into 2,596 dimming zones, giving it additional high contrast and high color saturation performance that is superior to the 31.5-inch iMac, which features 512 backlight dimming zones and is the first product to feature Apple’s XDR display technology.

With regards to Apple’s plans for 2H21, the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook models will likewise feature Mini LED backlight technology, which will become the hardware benchmark for high-end tablets and notebook computers. The release of Apple’s Mini LED-equipped tablets is expected to galvanize a growth against market headwinds for upstream and downstream companies in the Mini LED supply chain, including Mini LED chip suppliers (e.g., Ennostar), testing and sorting service suppliers (e.g., FitTech, Saultech, and YTEC), SMT suppliers (e.g., TSMT and Yenrich), backplane PCB suppliers (e.g., Zhen Ding Tech and Tripod Technology), driver IC suppliers (e.g., Parade, Novatek, and Macroblock), and light source module suppliers (e.g., Radiant/ROE and GIS).

(Cover image source: Apple.com)

For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Optoelectronics Research, please click here, or email Ms. Grace Li from the Sales Department at graceli@trendforce.com

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