As Samsung Display (SDC) decided to extend the manufacturing operations of its Korea-based Gen 8.5 LCD fab, and tier-two panel suppliers are still slow to reassign their production capacities from TV panels to IT panels, TrendForce expects total TV panel shipment for 2021 to reach 269 million units, which is relatively unchanged compared to 2020 levels. Panel suppliers will continue to focus on large-sized TV panels this year in response to several industry-wide developments, including M&A, reduced production capacities, improved manufacturing technologies, and increased panel demand. Furthermore, as the persistent price hike of TV panels continues to reduce the profit margins of TV sets, TV brands have started to gravitate towards larger, more profitable TV sizes. TrendForce therefore expects the average TV panel size this year to increase by 1.6 inches and move towards 50 inches.
TrendForce’s investigations finds that LG manufactured merely 30.6 million smartphones last year, which represented a 2.4% market share. The Korean company took ninth place in the global ranking of smartphone brands by production volume in 2020. At the start of this year, LG began to consider either selling or shuttering its mobile phone unit. Around that same time, it also suspended the R&D of new smartphone models. On April 5, LG announced the decision to fold up the mobile phone unit as it was ultimately unable to offset consecutive years of financial losses it suffered in the smartphone market. Based on the company’s current plan, the mobile phone unit will wind down its operation by the end of July, while its smartphone manufacturing operations will cease by the end of 2Q21. TrendForce therefore expects LG to occupy a lower than 1% share in the smartphone market this year. Incidentally, the conditions for survival for smartphone brands have further deteriorated on account of the increasingly fierce market competition as well as the recent and continuing hike in component prices. Taken altogether, these developments will reinforce the trend of the dominant brands having more and more market share in the future at the expense of the smaller brands.
Owing to high sales of the iPhone 12 series as well as an aggressive device production strategy by Chinese smartphone brands in response to sanctions on Huawei, which has lost considerable market share as a result, global smartphone production for 1Q21 is likely to reach 342 million units, a YoY increase of 25% and a QoQ decline of just 6%, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. Historically, smartphone production tends to experience a QoQ drop of around 20% for the first quarter as demand collapses from the peak-season level of the fourth quarter of the preceding year. However, the performance of the first quarter of this year is expected to defy seasonality.
Thanks to the stay-at-home economy brought about the by the COVID-19 pandemic, TV shipment in North America saw the start of an upturn in late March last year, while demand in the European market also gradually ramped up in 2H20, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. On the whole, global TV shipment rebounded from rock-bottom levels in April and peaked in October 2020. Nonetheless, recent shortages in IC products from upstream semiconductor suppliers led TV brands to push back their 4Q20 shipment schedules, resulting in a global TV shipment of 217 million units in 2020, a 0.3% YoY decline.
Owing to the stay-at-home economy brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, not only did yearly notebook computer shipment surpass 200 million units for the first time ever, but the 22.5% YoY growth was also the highest on record, according to TrendForce’s latest investigations. However, in comparison with 2Q20, during which production lines resumed operations, and notebook demand saw an uptick, the current global market is plagued by the ever-intensifying pandemic, with various countries instating border control and lockdown measures, making it impossible at the moment to accurately forecast the state of the notebook market in 2H21. Nevertheless, TrendForce currently expects global notebook shipment for 2021 to reach 217 million units, an 8.1% increase YoY. Incidentally, it should be noted that the increasing popularity of distance education has also galvanized a rising demand for Chromebooks, which have contributed substantially to the growth of the overall market. Chromebooks accounted for 14.8% of the global notebook shipment in 2020, while this rate is expected to rise to 18.5% in 2021.