Smart watch shipments reached 107 million units in 2021, surpassing the shipments of smart bands for the first time. Smart bands declined in 2021 with only 70.33 million units delivered. As branded manufacturers strengthen their investment in the smart watch market, market growth has accelerated. Due to the proximity of functional applications, the smart band market has been gradually supplanted by low-cost smart watch products. Therefore, driven by new products in 2022, the current forecast indicates that smart watch shipments will continue to grow in 2022, reaching 119 million units, for an annual growth rate of 11.4%. Smart band shipments are expected to decline to 55.18 million units and the gap between the two continues to widen. It is worth noting, although branded manufacturers are optimistic regarding the development of the smart watch market, in light of risks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, war, and inflation, continuing downward revisions of smart watch shipment volume in 2022 cannot be ruled out and annual growth rate may even fall below 5%.
The top five major manufacturers of smart watches are Apple, Samsung, Huawei, Xiaomi, and Garmin with a combined market share of 63%. Apple Watch shipments reached 36.6 million units in 2021, with an annual growth rate of 20%. Apple is optimistic regarding the market in 2022. On the one hand, the company believes that the Watch Series 8 can maintain the same consumer interest as the Watch Series 7. On the other hand, a wave of entry-level product replacements is expected with the launch of the second-generation Watch SE. Coupled with the launch of new Pro products, Apple believes that market demand in 2022 will surpass that in 2021 and shipment volume is expected to reach 43 million to 46 million units.
However, considering the negative economic impacts following the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and inflation, 4Q22 holiday sales may not pan out as expected. Throwing in the wildcard of China’s lockdown strategy, production of new Apple Watches may be affected if lockdown measures reappear in 2H22, which will lead to a risk of further delays in shipments of new products, upsetting shipments in 2022. Therefore, shipments of Apple Watches are conservatively forecast to reach 39.1 million units in 2022.
Although Samsung began exploring the wearable device market very early, due to the small market size and the rapid growth of the smartphone market, smart watches were not the focus of Samsung’s product development at the time. This was true up until recent years. As the growth of smartphones slowed, Samsung has once again strengthened its distribution of other consumer electronics products which has led to continuous growth in Samsung Galaxy Watch shipments. In addition, since Huawei has been flattened by Sino-US trade friction, Samsung leaped to claim the number two spot in the smart watch market in 2021. Samsung smartwatch shipments are estimated to grow from 11.09 million in 2021 to 14.1 million units in 2022.
After Google officially acquired Fitbit, although Fitbit remains nominally an independent brand, internal reorganization is bound to be carried out considering this affords more efficient resource allocation, integrating the companies’ procurement, product development, etc. Google will have two smart watch brands, Fitbit and Pixel. In terms of high-end watches, the Pixel Watch is a flagship product positioned as an extension of the Pixel mobile phone and is primarily used in synergy with smart phone functionality. Therefore, the Pixel Watch uses the Samsung Exynos chip and it is expected to highlight the features of various apps in the Google Play Store. Since Fitbit was acquired by Google, it has become necessary to adjust unified strategy and integrate and reorganize resources. Although smart watch shipments resumed growth in 2021, there is some distance between leading brands. Fitbit Is expected to launch new products in 2H22. Google Pixel Watch is also expected to be launched in 2H22, so Google/Fitbit smart watch shipments are estimated to grow to 3.65 million units in 2022.
(TechNews) Google confirmed on May 4th that it has acquired Raxium, a start-up company with Micro LED display technology, which is expected to become key in Google’s mission to create a new generation of AR displays.
Google senior vice president of devices and services, Rick Osterloh, who leads the development of Google’s hardware products, stated that Raxium has spent five years creating a small, cost-effective, and energy-efficient high-resolution display that lays the foundation for future display technologies, adding, this company’s technology in this field could play a key role in Google’s hardware investments. Raxium, headquartered in Fremont, California, will be merged into Google’s devices and services group in the future but he did not disclose the purchase price or other details.
According to Raxium’s official website, the pixel pitch of s Super AMOLED screen on a mobile phone is approximately 50 microns but the company’s Micro LED technology can achieve approximately 3.5 microns and it claims to be able to create unprecedented display efficiency.
When foreign media, The Information, reported last month and first exposed Google’s plan to acquire Raxium, it pointed out that Micro LED technology can create AR displays that are more energy-efficient than other solutions while retaining vivid colors. In addition, Raxium is working on the monolithic integration of Micro LEDs, which is expected to significantly reduce costs.
This move makes Google’s plans for subsequent AR hardware products increasingly clear. Google acquired glasses startup North in 2020 and is reportedly recruiting engineers to develop an operating system for AR displays. It was revealed by foreign media in January this year that Google’s laboratory is developing a head-mounted AR device code-named “Project Iris” which is under the same management as “Project Starline” shown at the Google I/O 2021 developer conference last year.
In 2021, notebook panel shipments reached a record high of 282 million units, with an annual growth rate of 25.1%, according to TrendForce’s research. In the first half of the year, demand was driven by the pandemic and primarily focused on consumer notebooks and Chromebooks while, in the second half of the year, as Europe and the United States gradually lifted lockdowns and work returned to normal, demand largely shifted to commercial models, which continued to support the demand for notebook panels throughout the year.
It is worth noting that TrendForce believes shipment totals of notebook panels from 1Q22 to 2Q22 may be corrected. Notebook panel shipments in 1Q22 are estimated at approximately 67.9 million units, a QoQ decline of 9.7% while 2Q22 shipments are expected to drop to 61.4 million units, down 9.5% QoQ. In addition to the impact of the traditional off-season, there are two reasons for this correction. One is that inventory on the brand-side has increased. Due to the shortage of panels in the past two years, the brand-side continued to purchase panels in 2021 to avoid supply chain disruption. Normally, notebook brands hold 4 to 8 weeks of inventory but some brands have already stocked up to 8 weeks. Two, since a whole notebook requires numerous components, it cannot be assembled and shipped if even one is missing. Limitations impose by incomplete materials lists caused the growth rate of notebook computer shipments to fall behind that of panel shipments, shifting notebook computer panels into oversupply.
Despite this, TrendForce has specifically mentioned, since the profit margin of notebook panels still beats LCD monitor panels and TV panels, panel makers will still desire an increase in the supply of notebook panels. However, in the face of a possible correction in notebook panel shipments, panel makers may accumulate more inventory and deepen the downward pressure on notebook panel pricing.
Looking forward to 2022, panel shipment performance and price trends will be adversely affected by adjustments in notebook brand inventories in 1H22. In 2H22, notebook brands will continue to focus on sales plans for whole notebook computers. The sales performance of these brands during the peak season is still worth looking forward to and the restocking momentum of notebook panels is expected to recover. Current estimates put the shipment of notebook panels at 265 million in 2022, a decrease of 6.0% YoY.
Due to the pandemic, laptops shipments reached a record high of 240 million units in 2021, according to TrendForce‘s investigations. However, the market has been abuzz recently and, as the global population of the fully vaccinated has exceeded 50%, relevant demand driven by the pandemic is expected to gradually weaken. Shipment volume will decrease by 3.3% year-on-year, revised down slightly to 238 million units. Chromebooks will account for approximately 12.3% of shipment volume, though it accounted for approximately 15.2% in 2021. The momentum of shipments has slowed down significantly which indicates that demand derived from the economic effect of remote working and teaching has subsided.
TrendForce further states that Chromebook shipments declined sharply by nearly 50% in 2H21 due to the end of the Japanese government’s education tender and an increase in U.S. market share. However, thanks to the sequential return to the office of European and American companies driving a wave of commercial equipment replacement, shipments of commercial laptops have grown rapidly to make up for the shortfall. In turn, the shipment of laptops in 4Q21 hit the highest levels of the year, reaching 64.6 million units. In addition, due to the severe shortage of IC materials in mature processes, the backlog of orders extends to 1Q22 and the off-season is expected to be short. Compared with the average quarterly reduction of 15% in previous years, this year’s pullback is expected to be less than 10%.
It is worth noting that due to the shortage of container ships and issues with port congestion, shipping time has been prolonged, increasing by two to three times from manufacturers in mainland China to the United States compared to before the epidemic. Notebook brands have all been shipping in advance and the proportion of air freight shipments has increased. However, shipping time still exceeds expectations, which may flood the supply chain with duplicate orders from downstream customers, resulting in overstocked inventories and the risk of subsequent orders being canceled. In addition, the wave of commercial equipment replacement driven by a return to the office will be a major variable that will affect the demand for notebooks in 2022, resulting in near-term buzz in the market.
TrendForce indicated that in the past, due to factors such as fewer working days during the Lunar New Year Holiday and labor shortages in mainland China, brands would often require large OEMs to produce and ship before the Lunar New Year. This first quarter end-of-season surge will start from this month. Even though changes in end-user demand is unclear, March will see the beginning of a production surge to end the first quarter. If there is a major change in demand at that time, it may lead to an accumulation of distribution channel inventory, leading to a downward revision in demand, and a return to the normal equipment replacement cycle.
The new normal ushered in by the pandemic will not only become the driving force of digital transformation but will also continue to drive the server market in 2022, according to TrendForce’s investigations. It is worth noting that potential unmet demand in 2021 and the risk of future server component shortages will become medium and long-term variables that influence the market. Analyzing the shipment volume of completed servers, a growth rate of approximately 4-5% in completed server shipments is expected next year with primary shipment dynamics remaining concentrated in North American data centers with an annual growth rate of approximately 13-14%. From the supply chain perspective, the ODM Direct business model has gradually replaced the business model of the traditional server market, giving cloud service providers the ability to respond quickly to market changes. However, based on the unpredictability of the market, TrendForce assumes two forecasts for server growth trends. One, the supply situation of key components is effectively improved. Two, the supply situation of key components is exacerbated.
TrendForce states, based on the current situation as materials issues ease quarter by quarter, the annual growth rate of server shipments in 2022 will reach 4~5%. There are three primary factors driving market momentum. First, the introduction of the Intel Sapphire Rapids and AMD Genoa platforms into the market may once again stimulate the replacement of enterprise client servers and infrastructure construction in data centers. Second, the market generally believes that transformational needs generated by the pandemic in 2022, such as shifts in working paradigms and the new normal, will continue to drive the cloud market. Furthermore, international tensions have led to geopolitical uncertainty, which in turn has encouraged countries to tighten their control over data sovereignty and prompting the emergence of small-scale data centers in specific geographic locations.
Actual shipment volume of completed servers in 2022 depends on improvement of supply chain issues
Based on the two aforementioned assumptions, if the pandemic is effectively controlled next year, and international logistics, satisfaction of materials demand, and other factors either return to normal or fare better than expected, server companies will be able to increase their shipping capabilities and the annual growth rate of shipments in the overall server market will be able to reach 5-6% while the annual growth rate of ODM-Direct will approach 15%, up from the original forecast 13%. However, if the pandemic intensifies next year, the overall global economy will continue under that dark cloud which will greatly affect the willingness of companies to invest. In that case, the estimated annual growth rate of server shipments will fall to only 3-4%. In addition, the growth momentum of North American data centers will also be affected leading to an annual growth rate of ODM-Direct of only 10%, approximately.
As a whole and continuing under the influence of the two-year pandemic, the business trend of flexible deployment is irreversible. Regardless of overall economic changes, TrendForce expects double-digit growth in the demand for ODM-direct servers next year while overall server demand will also maintain a positive growth trajectory. However, continued attention should be focused on issues related to server order fulfillment in the broader market, including the fulfillment rate of key PMIC and LAN chip materials. At the same time, another major market variable will be whether Intel and AMD can introduce their two new platforms as scheduled next year and inject additional momentum into equipment replacement.
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