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Press Releases
LG Set to Exit from Smartphone Business Following Years of Losses, with Lower than 1% Market Share Projected for 2021, Says TrendForce


Consumer Electronics

TrendForce’s investigations finds that LG manufactured merely 306 million smartphones last year, which represented a 24% 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 Regarding LG’s performance in the smartphone market during the recent years, the company spared no effort in high-end R&D, with such results as the LG Wing with a rotating screen and the LG Rollable, which, as the name suggests, features a side-rolling display The latter model remained a concept and did not enter mass production Despite its efforts, LG however continued to lag behind in sales when compared with the other major brands, such as Samsung and Apple LG had a relatively weak position in the high-end segment of the smartphone market As for the mid-range and entry-level segments, LG could not match Chinese brands in terms of pricing To optimize its cost structure, LG expanded the share of device production going to ODMs Nevertheless, this action was too late to turn things around Samsung, Lenovo, and Xiaomi are likely to benefit from LG’s exit from the North and Latin American markets LG’s smartphone business has become unprofitable since 2Q15; and its financial losses were further exacerbated after it made a gradual exit from the Chinese market in 2016 As of 4Q20, LG’s smartphone business suffered 23 consecutive quarters of financial losses, which totaled about 5 trillion KRW Despite LG’s limited market share, however, its exit from the various regional smartphone markets will still benefit its competitors in those markets, in particular, the mid-range segment in North America and Latin America With regards to North America, LG’s market share there will be split among its Android-based competitors, including Samsung, Lenovo (Motorola), and other in-house, private brands owned by domestic telecom operators With regards to Latin America, on the other hand, LG’s exit will more noticeably benefit Lenovo (Motorola) and Xiaomi Looking ahead to the rest of 2021, as vaccinations begin to take place around the world, TrendForce expects the smartphone industry, which fulfills a basic living necessity, to make a gradual recovery as well Thanks to the general public’s cyclical replacement demand, as well as growing demand from emerging markets, total smartphone production remains unaffected by LG’s exit As a result, TrendForce maintains its smartphone production forecast of 136 billion units for 2021, a 9% increase YoY For more information on reports and market data from TrendForce’s Department of Semiconductor Research, please click here, or email Ms Latte Chung from the Sales Department at lattechung@trendforcecom

Press Releases
Smartphone Production Registers Largest YoY Drop on Record with 16.7% Decline in 2Q20, Although Rebound in 2H20 Appears Likely, Says TrendForce


Consumer Electronics

The COVID-19 pandemic has compelled governments worldwide to impose border closures and regional lockdowns, which led to significant declines in various countries’ GDPs this year As economic and social activities around the world have stagnated, the performance of the smartphone industry was severely damaged in 2Q20 According to TrendForce’s latest investigations, total smartphone production reached 286 million units in 2Q20, a slight QoQ rebound of 22%, but a 167% decrease YoY, which is the largest quarterly YoY drop in history TrendForce indicates that governments in many countries have started to ease some of the restrictive measures for containing COVID-19 and launched economic stimulus policies to generate consumer demand These developments will be beneficial for the smartphone market’s potential rebound going into the second half of the year Total smartphone production for 3Q20 is expected to reach 335 million units, a 101% decrease YoY Although this figure falls short compared with the same period last year, it still represents a 172% increase QoQ Samsung was the only manufacturer among the top six to see its market share decline in 2Q20, while Huawei’s market share in China may be cannibalized by its competitors In the course of the COVID-19 pandemic since March, the situation has gotten worse for most countries Europe, the US, and India are the major markets for Samsung smartphones when looking at sales by region Their outbreaks were very severe during 2Q20, and this affected Samsung more than the other brands in the top six Although Samsung led the industry in terms of smartphone production with 55 million units in 2Q20, it is also the only brand among the top six that posted a QoQ decline, which approached 16% Moving to 3Q20, as China-US tensions intensify due to the latter's sanctions against Huawei, and China-India relations continue to destabilize, Samsung has been building up its inventories as it targets the entry-level and mid-range segments in order to compensate for its poor performances in the previous quarter Samsung’s production volume is likely to increase in 3Q20 Placing second in the production ranking, Huawei, which continues to heavily rely on the Chinese market, raised its smartphone production by 13% QoQ to around 52 million units for 2Q20 Competition in this market is expected to intensify in 3Q20 as smartphone brands release their new flagship models in 2H20 Huawei’s smartphone sales in overseas markets have been falling sharply since the end of 2019 as the effect of the trade actions by the US government began to take their toll These measures will make the R&D of in-house mobile processors and sourcing of components much more difficult for this Chinese smartphone brand Given that Huawei depends on China for smartphone sales, other Chinese brands, including Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo, are expected to cut into Huawei’s market share Apple’s iPhone production in 2Q20 rose by 8% QoQ to 41 million units thanks to above-expected sales of the iPhone SE and the iPhone 11 This performance also gives the brand third place in the ranking Moving to 3Q20, the demand for the iPhone SE and iPhone 11 is expected to remain strong At the same time, Apple will begin mass producing the four new models in the (tentatively named) iPhone 12 series, which are equipped with 5G capabilities, thereby raising its quarterly smartphone production The BOM costs of the iPhone 12 models are significantly higher compared with the models in the previous series because of the 5G support To cut costs and stabilize retail pricing, Apple has decided to sell the upcoming iPhones without accessories such as wired earphones, power adapter, etc This move is expected to help with sales performance However, recent orders by the Trump administration barring US businesses from carrying out transactions with TikTok, WeChat, and their respective parent companies ByteDance and Tencent may have an impact on Apple’s sales performances in the Chinese market going forward Xiaomi is fourth in the production ranking for 2Q20 with 295 million units, OPPO (including OPPO, OnePlus, and realme) is fifth with 275 million, and Vivo is sixth with 265 million The three Chinese brands benefitted from the recent recovery of their home market Furthermore, they also took advantage of the precautionary inventory building in the overseas retail channels during the first half of the year Retailers stocked up aggressively during that time in fear of pandemic-related disruptions As a result, they all posted an increase of more than 10% QoQ for 2Q20 Recent border tensions between India and China have placed considerable pressure on the three brands’ sales efforts since they all count on India as one of their major foreign markets On the other hand, they have been cultivating their presence in the country for a long time This, combined with their products’ price competitiveness, may be enough to get them through this difficult period with their market shares relatively intact Nevertheless, Chinese smartphone brands will be very constrained in terms of growth if the relationship between their home country and India remains tense Xiaomi, OPPO, and Vivo will continue to prioritize the entry-level and mid-range segments in their overseas expansion strategies, which include regions such as Europe, India, Southeast Asia, and Russia, over the long term In China, the three brands will capitalize on the Chinese government’s push to commercialize 5G services by being more proactive in the development and pricing of 5G smartphones Smartphone market will likely see a rebound in production and a sharp rise in 5G penetration in 2021 TrendForce forecasts a yearly smartphone production volume of 124 billion units for 2020, an 113% decrease YoY Assuming the pandemic can be brought under control in 2021, total smartphone production is likely to make a rebound next year As well, smartphone brands are pushing out 5G models this year to maintain their market shares in the face of the recent demand slump Since mobile SoC suppliers such as Qualcomm and MediaTek are also starting to provide 5G solutions for mid-range and high-end smartphones, the share of 5G models in the annual total smartphone production is projected to grow rapidly to 192% for 2020 This penetration rate is equivalent to around 238 million units

Press Releases
Yearly 5G Smartphone Production Projected to Exceed 200 Million Units Thanks to Smartphone Brands’ Proactive Push in 2H20, Says TrendForce


Consumer Electronics

5G remains a hot topic in the smartphone market this year, as smartphone brands and mobile processor manufacturers, such as Qualcomm and MediaTek, strive to expand their shares in the 5G market According to the latest investigations by TrendForce, the Chinese government’s 5G commercialization efforts have been particularly aggressive, leading the country’s 5G base station deployment and network coverage to each score first place in the global 5G industry As such, Chinese brands, which were ahead of their competitors in 5G strategies, occupied a 75% share in the global 5G smartphone market in 1H20 TrendForce indicates that, aside from the various Android-based smartphone brands, Apple’s new models will also join the ranks of 5G smartphones Given the total smartphone production forecast of 124 billion units in 2020, 5G handset production is expected to reach 235 million units, an 189% penetration rate Chinese brands are expected to occupy four out of the top six spots of 5G smartphone brands ranked by production volume An analysis of the projected top six smartphone brands ranked by 5G smartphone production volume shows Huawei firmly sitting in first place Huawei has shifted its focus to the domestic Chinese market under the impact of US sanctions and in preparation for China’s active 5G commercialization efforts The company is expected to produce about 74 million 5G smartphones this year Apple’s yearly 5G smartphone production is expected to total about 70 million units in 2020, which lands the company in second place However, 5G functions will increase the production cost of smartphones accordingly If Apple decides to directly reflect this added cost on the retail prices of the iPhone 12 series, it may lower its consumers’ willingness to purchase, in turn affecting the sales performances of the new iPhones Samsung has been experiencing setbacks in the Chinese market in recent years Although these setbacks have not seriously affected its global market share and revenue, they have considerably slowed Samsung’s growth in the 5G smartphone market Samsung’s 5G smartphone production this year is forecasted at 29 million units, placing the company in third place globally Vivo, OPPO (including OnePlus, OPPO, and Realme) and Xiaomi are tied for fourth place As Huawei’s aggressive domestic expansion in the past few years has compressed the market shares of the three brands in the Chinese market, they have been actively focusing on increasing overseas market shares to maintain their yearly production performances Vivo, OPPO, and Xiaomi’s yearly 5G smartphone production volumes are projected to reach about 21 million, 20 million, and 19 million units, respectively Mid-to-low end 5G chipsets released by AP suppliers are expected to raise the penetration rate of 5G smartphones in 2021 TrendForce’s analysis of future developments in the 5G market shows that an aggressive push by mobile processor manufacturers will lead to the rapidly increasing presence of 5G chipsets in the mid-to-low end market, driving 5G smartphone production to surpass 500 million units in 2021, which will potentially account for about 40% of the total smartphone market Once 5G chip prices reach a stable level this year, smartphone brands may look to gain additional shares in the 5G smartphone market by sacrificing gross margins In doing so, they are likely to accelerate the drop of 5G smartphones’ retail prices, and the market may see the arrival of 5G smartphones around the RMB 1000 price level by the end of this year Incidentally, it is worth noting that the penetration rate of 5G smartphones does not equal the usage rate of the 5G network, which depends on the progress of base station construction Since the current 5G infrastructure build-out is pushed back as a result of the pandemic, the global 5G network coverage will be unlikely to surpass 50% before 2025 at the earliest, with complete coverage taking even longer

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