Global smartphone shipments showed better than expected growth in 1Q14, rising 1.13% QoQ to 266.9 million units, according to market intelligence provider TrendForce. “The Q1 momentum came mostly from the emerging market sectors and China,” noted Avril Wu, Assistant Vice President of TrendForce. “The Chinese smartphone manufacturers’ increased 4G smartphone production is key to the smartphone industry higher than anticipated Q1 growth.”
For 2Q14, worldwide smartphone shipments are expected to benefit further from the continuously rising market demand, and jump by 6.7% QoQ to 284.5 million units. As a growing number of major smartphone brands are expected to release their flagship phones before the next generation iPhones appear, both the shipment volumes and average selling prices of high end smartphones can be expected to remain stable, and in turn enable various smartphone manufacturers to stay profitable within the industry. The smartphone shipments from the Chinese regions, as before, are projected to exceed the industry average, but the overall growth is expected to slow down. For 2Q14, China's smartphone shipment growth is estimated at approximately 13.76% QoQ.
Looking at 1Q14 smartphone brand ranking, Samsung managed to claim first place with a worldwide market share of over 30%, due to its low to mid ranged smartphone shipments. Apple's new iPhones and shipment momentum are not expected to appear until the second half of 2014, hence the company experienced a noticeable decline in its worldwide market share and finished in second. Chinese smartphone makers, notably, showed better than expected performances compared to traditionally strong global brands, with companies such as Huawei, Lenovo (excluding contribution from Motorola), and Xiaomi all experiencing quarterly growth of more than 20%. As noted by Wu, all three of the Chinese companies share a notable tendency to use high C/P value devices to stimulate momentum in different business sectors, including those typically characterized by hardware and software integration, different types of ecosystems (ie. TVs, servers, PCs), and long term e-commerce development. By utilizing appropriate strategies, the three Chinese companies managed to improve their shipments significantly in only a matter of years, and were able to lead their competitors in terms of economies of scale. Being the earliest Chinese brand to enter the FDD-LTE 4G smartphone market, Coolpad is a noteworthy company that is also expected to gradually increase its quarterly shipments throughout 2014. Assuming the company makes good use of its product advantages under the rapidly expanding 4G industry, Coolpad will likely end up with an upper hand over many of its local competitors when it comes to penetrating the global 4G market.
In assessing the smartphone supply chains, Burrell Liu, the Research Director of TrendForce’s panel research division, Witsview, found utilization rates for small-sized panels are still relatively high at the G5 fabs, but believes that this component will not cause any major bottlenecks for manufacturers in the short run. The supplies of high end camera modules, on the other hand, are expected to face a possible shortage due to shipment preparations for Apple's upcoming iPhones and the increasing number of flagship phones released by other major brands. With regards to Mobile DRAM, given that the transition from LPDDR2 to LPDDR3 is expected to be completed by the end of this year and that the former’s high demand is causing various disruptions to the supply chain, LPDDR2 supply shortages have emerged. Until LPDDR3 design is employed by more new hardware models, the LPDDR2 shortage situation is expected to continue into the third quarter.