According to TrendForce research, global smartphone production volume in 1Q22 was 310 million units, a QoQ decrease of 12.8%, primarily attributed to ongoing inventory adjustments in various distribution channels performed by a number of brands and the cyclical off-season, which led to relatively weak production performance in 1Q22. In 2Q22, a resurgence of the pandemic in the world’s largest consumer market, China, exacerbated the drop in global 2Q22 mobile phone production to 309 million units. However, compared to the same period in 2021, when a resurgent pandemic in India and Southeast Asia caused a sharp drop in total production, mobile phone production grew slightly by 0.7%.
TrendForce further indicates that the war between Russia and Ukraine continues to exacerbate the rising global inflation issue. High inflation means that personal disposable income will shrink and will inevitably lead to prolonged replacement cycles and reduced purchasing budgets for individual devices. Summarizing 2022, corrections in 1H22 were primarily due to the impact of China’s lockdowns on the economy while corrections in 2H22 highlight the inflation crisis. The total production forecast for the entire year will be revised down to 1.333 billion units and there is still room for downward revisions in the future.
Due to China’s economic headwinds, shipments fall again to 283 million, an annual decline of nearly 13%
From a regional perspective, due to China’s insistence on maintaining a strict “dynamic zero-COVID” policy and the recent festering of the pandemic, economic performance is also facing greater downward pressure and the demand for smartphones has likewise cooled in the face of pandemic prevention measures. Overall, the sales market share of China’s smartphone market still ranks first in the world but, due to the impact of the pandemic, its market share has dropped from 24.2% last year to 21.1% this year while the corresponding total shipment forecast fell from 325 million units last year to 283 million units, an annual decline of approximately 12.9%. Although the impact of the pandemic in the remainder of the region has been comparatively blunted, in the face of a rising inflation crisis, even the overpopulated Indian market will be unable to support substantial growth. From the perspective of the 2022 national shipment share ranking forecast, the top three positions will be held by China, India, and the United States, accounting for a 21.1%, 13.1%, and 11.0% share, respectively.
According to TrendForce, the consumer electronics market will feel the brunt of the weakening stay-at-home economy, the pandemic in China, international tensions, and rising inflation in 1H22. Coupled with the traditional off-season, demand for relevant applications such as PCs, laptops, TVs, and smartphones has cooled significantly and downstream customers have successively downgraded their shipment targets for the year, while demand for automotive, Internet of Things, communications, and servers products remain good. At the same time, the supply chain will build higher inventories in general to mitigate the risk of material shortages due to transportation impediments induced by the spread of the pandemic and the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine.
Due to the prolonged lead-time of semiconductor equipment and limited new capacity in 1Q22, the overall foundry capacity utilization rate remains fully loaded, in particular, component mismatch issues continue for parts produced at mature nodes (1Xnm~180nm). Looking forward to the second quarter, although growth in global wafer production capacity remains limited, due to weak demand for end products, continuing international tension, and China’s forced lockdowns and supervision due to the recent spread of the pandemic, there is an opportunity for the supply chain to obtain a more adequate supply of wafers that were previously squeezed by production capacity.
The overall supply of key server materials improved slightly in 1Q22. In addition, due to increasing orders from ultra-large data centers, the general supply cycle of NetCom chips such as LAN IC/chip remains as long as approximately 40 weeks but the demand gap can be bridged by instituting urgent order fees, mitigating actual impact. As the aforementioned situation eases, additional orders for ODM motherboard production are moving briskly, prompting continued stocking of FPGAs and PMICs materials. NetCom chips are also overstocked and the overall market has a reached a “rich get richer” mindset. Material shortages at second-tier ODMs still stifle the production of motherboards for a small number of customers but does not affect the overall server market supply. With improvements in material supply, server shipments will increase significantly in 2Q22, growing an estimated 15.8% QoQ to 3.6 million units.
Affected by sluggish seasonal demand, the Russian-Ukrainian war, and rising inflation, market demand has cooled. Thus, material delivery issues in the supply chain have eased compared to 2H21. Although there is still a shortage of certain components, most of these shortages are concentrated in mid/low-end smartphone products. The lead time for 4G and low-end 5G SoCs is approximately 30 to 40 weeks, which is limited by production capacity planning. Since last year, the demand of the mid/low-end mobile phone market has not been met. This is followed by A+G sensors with a lead time of approximately 32~36 weeks and OLED DDIC and Touch IC with a lead time of 20~22 weeks. The production volume of smartphones in 2Q22 will be affected by the interaction of the aforementioned factors with a forecast production volume of 323 million units, or only 6% QoQ, which is lower than the performance of previous years.
Also affected by weakening end market demand, discounting client SSDs that are no longer oversupplied, Type C IC, WiFi, and PMIC all currently boast long lead times, with Type C IC the lengthiest at 20~25 weeks. However, compared with TrendForce’s assessment at the beginning of this year, the delivery cycle has not grown longer, so the lead time of these three types of products is expected to improve by the end of 2Q22. As supply chain backlog continues to improve, shipments of notebook computers (including Chromebooks) is expected to reach approximately 55.1 million units in 2Q22, down 0.7% QoQ.
5. MLCC Passive Components
From the perspective of other key components, taking MLCC as an example, demand for major consumer electronic products such as mobile phones, laptops, tablets, and TVs declined significantly in 1Q22, resulting in high consumer product specification MLCC inventory levels held by original suppliers and channel agents and this situation may continue into 2Q22. At present, the stocking momentum for automotive and industrial MLCCs has steadily increased, while consumer specification products have yet to escape the pattern of oversupply. In 2Q22, the MLCC market has the opportunity to alleviate its component mismatch issues through gradually increased production capacity and automotive and server ICs supplied by semiconductor IDM companies, driving stocking momentum at automotive power, server, fast charging, and charging/energy storage equipment OEMs. Vehicle and industrial MLCCs have the opportunity to become primary growth drivers in 2Q22 with Murata, TDK, Taiyu and Yageo as the primary beneficiaries. Consumer specification products, which account for the bulk of MLCC production from suppliers in Taiwan, South Korea, and China, may face continued market demand weakness in 2Q22 due to a slowdown in demand for mobile phones and laptops and continuing inventory adjustment by branded companies and ODMs.
Looking forward to 2Q22, not including servers, demand for end products related to the consumer category remains weak. Components that were originally oversupplied will face more severe price tests due to the imbalance between supply and demand. In terms of materials in serious short supply, more output will be transferred to products with strong demand through the deployment of internal production capacity. TrendForce believes that from the changes in PC market conditions, it can be seen in rapid changes in demand, purchasing behavior has quickly switched from the former over-ordering strategy to actively cutting orders, inducing supply chains to buck the seasonal trends of previous years. Due to the accelerated recent spread of Omicron in China and under the country’s dynamic zero-COVID policy, mandatory and sudden lockdown and control measures may cause local manufacturers to face multiple and complex supply chain problems, which will be detrimental to market performance.
The smartphone market is showing an improvement in demand during the second half of this year due to the peak season for e-commerce promotional activities and the easing of COVID-19 outbreaks in regions such as Southeast Asia, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, there have been significant shortages of components including 4G SoCs, low-end 5G SoCs, display panel driver ICs, etc. The persistent component gaps are constraining smartphone brands from raising device production for the second half of the year. Looking at 3Q21, the quarterly total smartphone production came to around 325 million units, a 5.7% QoQ increase. Even so, not only does the QoQ increase in smartphone production for 3Q21 fall short of the QoQ increase for the same quarter last year, but the quarterly production volume for 3Q21 also shows a weaker performance result when compared with figures from 3Q20 or from 3Q19, prior to the emergence of the pandemic.
As for the total production for the whole 2021, TrendForce has lowered the projection to 1.335 billion units with a YoY growth rate of 6.5%. The previous projection was 1.345 billion units with a YoY growth rate of 7.3%. This downward correction mainly reflects the impact of the component gaps on device production. Going forward, an important point of observation in the smartphone market is whether the pandemic will further weaken demand. Also, the other significant variables that will influence future smartphone demand include geopolitical tensions, distribution of production capacity in the foundry market, and global inflationary pressure.
While smartphone production for 3Q21 reached about 325 million units, the release of new models helped Apple retake second place in the global ranking
Samsung raised its smartphone production by 17.9% QoQ to 69 million units for 3Q21. The growth was mainly attributed to the stabilization of the capacity utilization rates of its device assembly plants in Vietnam. Samsung continued to top the global ranking of smartphone brands with the largest market share in production terms. Apple released four new iPhone models under the iPhone 13 series in 3Q21. Thanks to their contribution, the total iPhone production for 3Q21 registered a QoQ increase of 22.6% to 51.5 million units. With this result, Apple was also able to climb to second place in the global ranking. In terms of product development, Apple is staying with the plan to release its third-generation iPhone SE in 1Q22 and four models under a new series in 2H22. The third-generation iPhone SE is expected to be a major instrument in helping Apple establish a presence in the market segment for mid-range 5G smartphones. Its production volume for 2022 is forecasted to reach 25-30 million units.
OPPO marginally raised its smartphone production by 3% QoQ to 51 million units for 3Q21, thereby capturing third place in the ranking. Xiaomi held fourth place as its smartphone production for the same quarter fell by 10% QoQ to 44.5 million units. Vivo’s smartphone production for 3Q21 was relatively constant compared with the previous quarter, coming to around 34 million units. With this result, Vivo was ranked fifth. The production figures of these three Chinese brands include devices under their respective sub-brands (i.e., OPPO’s Realme and OnePlus; Xiaomi’s Redmi, POCO, and Black Shark; and Vivo’s iQoo). Looking at the three brands’ production performances in 3Q21, TrendForce notes that there is a high degree of overlap in terms of target market as well as a high degree of similarity in offerings. Hence, their production performances directly hinge on their ability to acquire enough of the components that are now in short supply.
Honor will expand into the overseas markets next year as part of its plan for a comeback
After spending the first half of this year stocking up on components and undergoing business restructuring, Honor is now on a more solid footing and will attain an annual smartphone production of 43.5 million units. In the global ranking of smartphone brands by annual production for 2021, Honor is expected to take eighth place. Also, Honor as an independent brand has obtained access to Google Mobile Services. Therefore, it plans to expand to other markets outside China next year and leverage the sales expertise that it has acquired from Huawei in order gain a bigger share of the overseas markets. Regarding Honor’s sales strategy as a whole, the main focus is still on the domestic market. As for the overseas markets, Honor will continue Huawei’s strategy and avoid India where competition revolves around low pricing. Instead, Honor will attempt to establish itself in regions such as Russia, the wider Europe, and South America. In general, Honor’s rise will likely affect the market shares of the other aforementioned brands. How much market share Honor will gain depends on its ability to have sufficient inventory of components that are now in short supply.
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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.
This year, the US and Europe, which are Apple’s main markets for iPhone devices, are seeing an easing of the pandemic and expecting an economic recovery. Furthermore, Apple is expected to benefit from Huawei’s abandonment of some market share for high-end smartphones, and the sales of the new iPhone devices in 2H21 will likely be boosted thanks to this development. On the whole, the outlook on Apple’s performance in the smartphone market for the whole year is positive, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Although the ongoing capacity crunch in the foundry industry will have a constraining effect on Apple in terms of ramping up its iPhone production and growing its market share in the future, TrendForce is still maintaining a cautiously optimistic view and forecasts that the annual total iPhone smartphone production for 2021 will grow by around 12.3% YoY to 223 million units, with additional room for a slight growth going forward.
Apple will prioritize the optimization of existing functions with the iPhone 12s series, while retail prices are expected to remain on par with last year’s release of iPhone 12 models
Apple plans to unveil the next generation of iPhones, tentatively called the iPhone 12s series (official name has yet to be revealed), in September 2021, and the smartphone market has placed the spotlight on the new handsets’ physical appearances as well as retail prices. Regarding the general outward appearance of the upcoming iPhone devices, the notch on top of the screen will shrink due to the decreased size of their sensor housings. Apart from this, other upgrades will mostly relate to the optimization of existing functions and features. All in all, the degree of innovation is not particularly significant in terms of appearance, and the four new models can be regarded as an extension to the iPhone 12 series. Because of this, TrendForce also believes that Apple will continue the proactive pricing strategy that it adopted in 2020 so as to maintain its market share for high-end smartphones. Even though prices of some key components have risen due to tightening supply, Apple is taking into account of the growth in the revenue of peripheral services in relation to the growth of iPhone sales. This means that the starting price of the upcoming iPhone series will likely be relatively on par with the starting price of the iPhone 12 series.
For the latest iPhone models, Apple has made certain upgrades to the handsets. TrendForce here summarizes the key components of the latest iPhone models, including the processor, display, memory, and camera. The iPhone 12s series will feature the A15 processors manufactured at TSMC’s 5nm+ node. Regarding the display, the new models will be equipped with flexible AMOLED panels with On-cell touchscreen technology; the two Pro models will also feature a 120Hz refresh rate. Judging by the iPhone 12s series’ starting prices as well as the differences among various models’ retail prices, TrendForce expects the new handsets’ memory capacities to remain the same as their iPhone 12 counterparts. On the camera front, Apple has upgraded all iPhone 12s handsets’ main cameras to include sensor-shift image stabilization technologies. For the Pro models, not only are their ultra-wide cameras now equipped with 6P lens (which is an upgrade over the previous generation), but they are also capable of autofocus functions. Notably, it should be pointed out that LiDAR scanners are available in the Pro models only.
On the whole, TrendForce expects the latest iPhone devices to account for about 39% of Apple’s total annual production volume for 2021. As all iPhone 12s handsets contain 5G modems, the share of 5G models in the overall iPhone production is projected to expand massively from 39% in 2020 to 75% in 2021. Furthermore, Apple is expected to focus on driving sales of the three non-mini models in the iPhone 12s series in view of the fact that the iPhone 12 mini (which reached End-of-Life ahead of time in 2Q21) suffered disappointing sales performances compared to other models in the iPhone 12 family.
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