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TrendForce Compuforum 2015: Smartphone Upgrades Initiates Competition for Better Specs in Key Mobile Components

Global research firm TrendForce will be hosting “Compuforum 2015” with Taipei Computer Association and TechNews at the 4th floor VIP Room of Taipei International Convention Center on June 5, 2015 as part of the Computex Taipei 2015. Top analysts assembled from three of TrendForce’s research divisions – DRAMeXchange, WitsView and Topology – will be presenting their latest research on the key components of mobile devices and communication technology. The conference will also feature guest speakers from tech giants SanDisk, Qualcomm, Intel, Broadcom and ARM. Together these experts will provide authoritative analyses and latest industry intelligence. Compuforum 2015 will be a great opportunity for its participants to exchange information on market and technological developments for the second half of 2015. Below is the summarized content of the conference: 

DRAMeXchange: Mobile device specs advance with mobile DRAM becoming memory industry’s profit engine 

As a result of a recent seismic shift in demand, mobile DRAM has formally surpassed PC DRAM as the mainstream product of the industry. DRAMeXchange’s analysis shows the representation of mobile DRAM in the total production continues to increase and is projected to reach a CAGR of 36% during the 2011-2020 period, overtaking the 24% CAGR of server DRAM and the negative growth rate of PC DRAM. DRAMeXchange additionally expects a near 40% yearly increase in the bit growth demand of mobile DRAM for 2015. With PC DRAM prices continuing to decline, mobile DRAM manufacturing will achieve greater profitability than PC DRAM manufacturing in this year’s third quarter. In sum, mobile DRAM is set to become primary product type that will ensure a steady margin for DRAM makers. 

DRAMeXchange’s Assistant Vice President Avril Wu sees plenty of room for mobile DRAM demand growth despite the gradual saturation of the smartphone market. Though smartphone shipments will have a yearly growth of just 11.6% in 2015, the ongoing software and hardware upgrades in other products will fuel the demands for mobile DRAM. These devices and components include digital cameras, display screen resolutions, AP chipsets, multicore processors, and operating systems. The next-generation iPhone, for instance, has upgraded its memory to 2GB LPDDRR4 as it sets to become the biggest highlight in the smartphone market for the second half of this year. Other smartphone vendors will soon follow Apple’s lead and equip their flagship models with 3GB or 4GB mobile DRAM products. Though LPDDR4 is presently limited to high-end smartphones, DRAMeXchange anticipates its application will steadily become widespread in 2016, extending to mid-range smartphones. By the early 2017, LPDDR4 will become the market mainstream and be carried in devices outside of the smartphone category. 

WitsView: Competition in the mobile display market heats up as it moves towards higher resolution 

The development of the smartphone market has plateaued after many years of high growth, and the year-on-year shipment growth for 2015 is expected to slow down. According to WitsView’s Senior Research Director Eric Chiou, the diminished shipment volume suggests that raising the product’s quality will be crucial to making further progress in the smartphone market. WitsView’s latest research indicates smartphones with screens sized 5 inches and above will increase their share relative to other screen sizes this year, accounting for over half of the product mix for the first time at 50.1%. The trend towards high resolution displays is also underway, and more than a quarter of all mobile devices will have Full HD or better specs for their displays this year, reaching to 25.6%. 

Recent surveys of panel makers indicate Japanese companies will remain dominant as the mobile display market heats up due to their advantages in client base and technology. Their positions in the mid-range and high-end panel segments will be difficult to challenge. China is disrupting the already oversupplied small-size panel market with large-scale investments in the LTPS technology. At the same time, Korean panel makers are strengthening their AMOLED product lines as to tap into a less saturated market while leaving the fiercely contested LCD market. As for Taiwanese manufacturers, which mainly produce a-Si panels, their survival under the combined offensive from Japanese, Korean and Chinese competitors will be the market’s focus in the near future. 

Topology: Smartwatches become the focus of the wearable industry and Apple will define the course of their competition 

As market for wearable tech is entering its third year of development, its main products are still wrist-worn devices. The market entry of the Apple Watch will spur the shipments of smartwatches to exceed smartband shipments. Based on Topology’s analysis, approximately 26 million sets of smartwatches will be shipped in 2015, with 15 million of them being the Apple Watch. Thus, the Apple Watch will dominate with 57% of the market share. 

As Apple establishes a commanding lead in the smartwatch market, its products will certainly be closely studied and imitated by competing brands. According to Topology’s wearable device analyst Jason Tsai, however, wearable devices compete differently with smartphones. Smartphones differentiation leads to spec upgrades and matchups. For wearable devices like Apple Watch, their core values are about being a platform capable of providing a range of functions and services, rather than simply having the most advanced hardware. The bar is therefore set very high for Apple’s wearable competitors when it comes to creating a rival for the Apple Watch. Furthermore, the competition in the wearable market will move away from the traditional hardware-oriented contests to the more service-oriented challenges. 

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