Chromebook


2021-07-12

Annual Notebook Shipment Likely to Break Records in 2021 at 236 Million Units, with Chromebook Demand Slowing Down in 2H21, Says TrendForce

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 vivieliu@trendforce.com

2021-07-08

With a forecasted double-digit decline in Chromebook shipment next year, is 2021’s stay-at-home peak over for the notebook market?

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.

(Cover image source: Lenovo StoryHub

2021-03-31

Despite Cyclical Off-Season, High Demand Results in Historical High for Notebook Panel Shipment in 1Q21, Says TrendForce

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in turn generated a high demand for notebook computers. While demand began ramping up in 2Q20, subsequently resulting in a shortage in 3Q20 and 4Q20, the shortage in the notebook market has yet to be resolved even now, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. The high demand for notebooks is estimated to propel the quarterly shipment of notebook panels to a historical high of 65.3 million units in 1Q21, which is a 3.5% increase QoQ and a 46.5% increase YoY.

With regards to supply and demand, TrendForce believes that the current shortage of notebook panels can primarily be attributed to the soaring market demand for notebooks. In terms of supply, notebook panel shipment underwent YoY increases of more than 20% during each quarter from 2Q20 to 4Q20. At the moment, panel orders from notebook manufacturers still exceed the order fulfillment capacity of panel suppliers by about 30-50%, as panel suppliers are bottlenecked by the shortage of certain semiconductor components, such as DDICs and T-cons.

Given the extremely tight supply of panels relative to demand, notebook panel prices have skyrocketed accordingly. Case in point, quotes for 11.6-inch panels, which are among the mainstream and are widely used for Chromebooks, are now closing in on quotes for 14-inch and 15.6-inch panels. As such, the high profitability of notebook panels have led panel suppliers to set more aggressive shipment targets this year.

In particular, after CEC-Panda sold its Nanjing-based Gen 8.5 fab and Chengdu-based Gen 8.6 fab last year, the company currently possesses a sole remaining Gen 6 fab in Nanjing. While this fab has never manufactured notebook panels in the past, plans for manufacturing 11.6-inch panels are now underway, with mass production expected to start in 2Q21, owing to the extremely high market demand for notebook panels. It should also be pointed out that HKC has been mass producing 11.6-inch panels since February 2021. The company is expected to start mass producing 14-inch panels in 2Q21 and 15.6-inch as well as 13.3-inch panels in 2H21. HKC aims to ship about 10 million notebook panels this year.

TrendForce indicates that the current demand for notebook panels will likely persist through 3Q21. However, as the shortage situation has persisted for more than three quarters since it surfaced in 2Q20, some notebook manufacturers may begin overbooking panel orders due to the expectation of further shortages. Therefore, if the actual market demand were met ahead of expectations, panel suppliers may potentially slow down their panel shipments in 2H21. Even so, the new normal brought about by the pandemic will continue to power the global digital transformation. For instance, in response to the digitization of distance learning, the education sector is expected to generate recurrent demand for Chromebooks. As a result, TrendForce has a positive outlook on the annual shipment volume of notebook panels for 2021, which is expected to reach 249 million units, a 10.5% increase 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 vivieliu@trendforce.com

2021-03-17

NAND Flash Contract Prices Projected to Increase by 3-8% QoQ in 2Q21 Due to Easing of Oversupply, Says TrendForce

With Samsung, YMTC, SK Hynix, and Intel leading the charge, NAND Flash suppliers will maintain an aggressive effort to expand their production capacities throughout 2Q21, during which NAND Flash bit output will likely increase by nearly 10% QoQ, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. On the other hand, orders from PC OEMs and Chinese smartphone brands since 1Q21, as well as recovering procurement activities from clients in the data center segment during 2Q21, will generate upward momentum propelling NAND Flash bit demand. Furthermore, buyers are actively stocking up on finished products, such as SSDs and eMMC, due to persistently limited NAND Flash controller supply. TrendForce therefore expects NAND Flash contract prices to increase by an average of 3-8% QoQ in 2Q21 after experiencing a 5-10% decline QoQ in 1Q21. In particular, as Samsung’s Line S2 fab in Austin has yet to resume full operation after the Texas winter storm, the supply of NAND Flash controllers going forward may be at risk, and Samsung’s ability to manufacture client SSDs will be further constrained as a result. In light of these factors, TrendForce is not ruling out the possibility that NAND Flash contract prices may increase by even more than current forecasts.

Contract prices of both client SSDs and enterprise SSDs are projected to rise due to delayed resumption at Samsung’s Line S2 fab

With regards to client SSDs, the persistent stay-at-home economy generated by the COVID-19 pandemic will likely result in strong demand for notebook computers in 2H21, while PC OEMs have raised their client SSD inventories as they manufacture more notebooks to meet demand. Given the high volumes of client SSD orders from PC OEMs, inventory level of NAND Flash suppliers is therefore likely to remain healthy. However, the shortage of NAND Flash controllers has yet to be resolved. Suspended operations at the Line S2 fab disrupted Samsung’s production of NAND Flash controllers, meaning some client SSD orders will not be fulfilled in 2Q21. Hence, the tight supply of finished products (i.e., client SSDs) will be further exacerbated. As such, client SSD contract prices are projected to increase by 3-8% in 2Q21.

With regards to enterprise SSDs, demand is expected to rebound from rock bottom in 2Q21, primarily because clients in the data center segment will ramp up their procurement activities after undergoing a period of inventory adjustment. In addition, demand for IT equipment from the governmental, healthcare, and financial services sectors will also gradually emerge. Other factors contributing to enterprise SSD demand include bids from Chinese telecom operators and increased IT equipment purchases from small and medium businesses globally. On the other hand, NAND Flash suppliers are no longer under pressure to destock via low prices, since their inventory levels have improved thanks to high demand from notebook manufacturers and smartphone brands. As the overall demand for NAND Flash rises, enterprise SSD contract prices are in turn expected to stabilize and experience a 0-5% growth QoQ in 2Q21.

High demand for Chromebooks will provide upward momentum for eMMC quotes, while contract prices of UFS are projected to undergo the lowest growths among NAND Flash products

eMMC contract prices will likely remain, for the most part, higher than expected despite the cyclical downturn in 1H21. In particular, strong demand from Chromebook manufacturers will provide upward momentum for eMMC quotes. Likewise, under the influence of NAND Flash controller shortage, eMMC buyers such as consumer electronics manufacturers will expand their procurement activities in order to build up their inventories. As a result, the overall eMMC demand will gradually ramp up in 2Q21. Conversely, the supply of eMMC controllers is still in shortage due to the fully loaded capacities across the foundry industry. Also, eMMC products under 32GB exclusively feature 2D NAND or 64L 3D NAND. Because production capacities allocated for these types of NAND Flash memories have been either reassigned to other 3D NAND products or scaled down, the oversupply of eMMC has been alleviated, and the long-term price drop of eMMC has subsequently come to a halt. In the short term, the shortage of controller ICs will result in a shortage of finished eMMC products. eMMC contract prices are therefore projected to increase by 3-8% QoQ in 2Q21.

Demand for UFS, which is primarily used for smartphones, is expected to remain high through 2Q21 because OPPO, Vivo, and Xiaomi have been aggressively procuring UFS since 4Q20, and Huawei spun off its Honor smartphone business unit. Buyers have also been anticipating an upcoming shortage of controller ICs and NAND Flash memory, leading them to build up their UFS inventories and therefore further driving up the overall UFS demand. On the supply side, inventory levels of suppliers have dropped significantly due to smartphone brands’ large-scale procurement activities previously. Although Chinese smartphone brands have yet to ramp up their bit demand, their existing level of demand still remains strong. Furthermore, clients from the data center segment are expected to increase their SSD procurement in 2Q21, and suppliers will maintain an aggressive approach regarding quotes in response. Even so, because smartphones account for the highest bit consumption share among all NAND Flash applications, NAND Flash suppliers are unlikely to significantly adjust their UFS quotes. As such, UFS contract prices are expected to increase by 0-5% QoQ in 2Q21, which is relatively lower compared to other NAND Flash products.

NAND Flash wafer contract prices are projected to increase by 5-10% QoQ as NAND Flash suppliers lower their bit shipment to the wafer market due to its lower profit margins

With regards to the NAND Flash wafer market, TrendForce has yet to observe an obvious improvement in the retail sales of end products such as SSDs, memory cards, and USB flash drives. However, as NAND Flash suppliers have been unable to make their scheduled delivery dates to OEMs due to an insufficient supply of controller ICs, module makers may stand to benefit from this and obtain more orders from OEMs, subsequently driving up the demand for NAND Flash wafers within the next one to two quarters, but the actual procurement of NAND Flash wafers will depend on whether the tight supply situation of controller ICs can be alleviated. On the other hand, inventories of NAND Flash suppliers have now fallen to mostly healthy levels thanks to procurement activities from smartphone brands since 4Q20. Suppliers have accordingly lowered their bit shipments to the NAND Flash wafer market (which yields a relatively lower profit margin compared to other product categories), due to the rising demand from notebook manufacturers and the expected recovery of the data center segment in 2Q21. On the whole, given the bullish market of mainstream products, such as smartphones and notebooks, TrendForce expects NAND Flash wafer contract prices to once again increase by 5-10% QoQ in 2Q21.

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

2021-01-06

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

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