Demand for education-use Chromebooks has waned significantly in most markets except for the US, but overall Chromebook shipments are expected to maintain a stronger momentum than the entire PC industry as such notebooks are being shifted to other outlets including enterprise users, according to industry sources.
Demand for LCD monitors supporting remote working and learning in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic remains strong, but the retail market sees a 20-30% shortage in supply, according to Victor Chien, president for Acer's Digital Display Business.
Apple is showing its preference for miniLED backlighting for high-end notebooks and tablets, and Apple is likely to adopt such backlighting for 13.3-inch MacBook Air to be launched in 2022, according to industry sources.
India is striving to woo PC vendors and ODMs to set up production lines in the South Asian country, and its latest incentive is to give priority supply right for up to 50% of its PC procurement projects to "Make in India" manufacturers, according to industry sources.
Samsung's new NAND flash production capacity is coming, which is likely to create oversupply and exacerbate price falls for the memory. Apple has been relyng on Taiwan-based ODMs for producing its Mac devices, but it reportedly is looking to outsource portions of the Mac production to Chinese makers. But Taiwan's IC substrate suppliers have reportedly entered Apple's supply chain for new Mac chips.
Apple is looking to diversify its assemblers for the Mac series to include not only Taiwan-based Quanta Computer and Foxconn Technology but also a few China-based suppliers, according to industry sources.
Samsung Electronics and Intel are both striving to win orders for Apple's in-house developed Mac processors, but industry sources believe TSMC will remain the sole supplier for the next-generation Mac series.
Taiwan-based IC substrate suppliers, such as Unimicron Technology, have reportedly cut into the supply chain for Apple's custom-built silicon powering the next generation Macs, and will have a chance to benefit the most from the new offerings among its component suppliers.
Foxconn has been aggressive in expanding its presence in the EV sector, and it is looking to promote localized EV production in various regions to tap respective markets. Robust orders for HPC chips from AMD and Nvidia are expected to drive sales growth at TSMC in 2022. Quanta Computer's server manufacturing facilities in Taiwan have reached almost full production capacity and will open a new plant in Thailand next year to produce server motherboards.
Makers in Apple's supply chain have seen no major changes to orders for iPhone 13 devices despite speculation about the US vendor looking to cut production for the new smartphones. The memory sector is entering a period of correction, with commodity DRAM prices likely to fall 15-20% in first-quarter 2022. Rising components, production and logistic costs are heaping pressure on notebook vendors.
Children in the US and Europe are going to miss a pair of NIKE shoes for Christmas this year as manufacturing activities in Vietnam are lagging due to COVID. Consumer electronics are seeing tight supply as well. Demand for gaming devices soars in Thailand.
Notebook brands are facing the pressure of reflecting the extra costs from components, production and logistics on the prices of their new notebooks, according to sources from the upstream supply chain.
Tablet brands will see a more stable market environment in 2022 with their shipments in the year to pick up moderately by 1.3% from 2021. Although tablet brands will start pushing into the creator market to seek more business opportunities, overall tablet shipments are still likely to shrink over the next five years until 2026, according to the figures from Digitimes Research's latest five-year (2022-2026) forecast report on the tablet industry.
Notebook inventories held by Acer's channel distributors are pretty low. The PC vendor still has a large backlog of orders from international distributors as uneven inventories across different chip types continue to affect its shipments, according to the company chairman and CEO Jason Chen.
Global notebook shipments are expected to experience minor declines in 2022 and 2023 as governments will start cutting their COVID-19 subsidies and stimulus checks with the easing of the pandemic, reducing overall demand for notebooks. However, the market is expected to see the next wave of shipment growth between 2024 and 2026 with upgrades to panels and hardware, according to the figures from Digitimes Research's latest five-year (2022-2026) forecast report on the notebook industry.
Thailand's gaming industry raked in more than US$1 billion in revenue last year amid COVID-19, according to Thailand Business News citing data from NewZoo, with the number of gamers increasing to 32 million in the country.
Notebook ODMs may not see strong shipment growth in traditional peak season in second-half 2021, but it does not mean that the notebook market is heading for a downturn. Samsung expects to move its 3nm GAA process to volume production in first-half 2022, but it remains to be seen whether the early start will enable it to beat TSMC in the segment. Meanwhile, Taiwan's power management IC vendors have reported strong sales for the third quarter.
Taiwan's major notebook ODMs, including Quanta Computer, Wistron, Compal Electronics and Inventec, are not expected to sustain regular peak-season shipment momentum in the second half of the year, with most of their revenues for the year to be roughly split 47:53 between the first half and second, compared to 45:55 or even 40:60 registered in past years, according to industry sources.
Notebook ODMs may experience a weak fourth quarter of 2021 with their feeble sales in China during the National Day holiday and possible low sales momentum during the year-end holidays in Europe and North America. Largan Precision also saw its gross margin hit the lowest in 25 quarters, but the percentage was still well above 59%. PCB maker Zhen Ding is also prepared to start making BT and ABF substrates in China in 2022.
Taiwan makers produced over 90% of the notebooks worldwide in 2008. The top-five notebook makers - Quanta Computer, Compal Electronics, Wistron, Inventec and Asustek Computer - contributed 88% of the shipments from Taiwan.
Motherboard and graphics card maker Gigabyte Technology is on track to see its revenues top NT$120 billion (US$4.3 billion) in 2021, thanks to robust demand for cryptomining and gaming applications, according to company chairman Dandy Yeh.
China regulators have moved to crack down on virtual currency trading, dampening cryptomining operations in the country and affecting shipments of related solutions toChinese clients. But the US has issued signals that it will not prohibit transactions of cryptocurrencies, driving up the value of Bitcoin to a five-month high of US$55,000 recently, which will bolster shipments of cryptomining motherboards and graphic cards, industry sources said.
Notebook ODMs saw their shipments disappoint for China's just-ended National Day holiday, which may indicate a particularly weak fourth-quarter this year with the year-end Christmas shopping season likely to see lower sales momentum than the past years, according to industry sources.