Global Notebook Market 1Q Not So Bleak After All


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TrendForce, a global market research institute, revealed in its latest notebook shipment report that although CPUs continued their trend of undersupply in 1Q19, it didn't cause too big of an impact on the notebook market as a whole. Global notebook shipments for the first quarter came up to 36.97 million units, a miniscule 0.8% decline compared to the same quarter last year, which registered 37.27 million units.

TrendForce asserts that the outlook for the market was originally unoptimistic due to CPU undersupply, the reduced number of workdays from the lunar year holidays, and the weak sales in the market. Yet thanks to extensive preparations by American brands, shipments fell only by a margin compared to the same period last year. Due to priority differences in CPU supply, American brands did not suffer as much from this wave of CPU undersupply, while the effects felt by Taiwan's double aces, Acer and Asus, were more noticeable. Shipments are predicted to grow significantly entering the second quarter, in no small part due to the Chromebook tender. YoY growth may even get a chance to rise above 10%.

HP Sits the Throne for 12 Seasons Straight; New Apple Notebooks Make a Belated Appearance and Bolster 1Q Shipments 

Viewing brands individually, we see that HP has held first place for 12 seasons straight, shipping 9.23 million units in the first season and registering a 2.6% growth YoY. Apart from Apple, shipments from some among the top six notebook brands were impeded by CPU undersupply, causing most orders to be diverted to American brands. HP, through the support of Intel, emerged as the greatest beneficiary of this wave of undersupply.

Dell came in second. Back in 2Q18, Dell began to actively raise market sales in order to pave the way and get their stocks back on the market, growing their shipments for the entire last shipment year by 12.5%. Despite the offseason, Dell still took large amount of orders in anticipation of and preparation for the US-China trade war in 1Q this year, reaching 7.57 million units in shipments 1Q, bringing both QoQ and YoY growth upwards of 22%. Furthermore, Dell's efforts to expand the number of sales channels into Europe last year began to pay off starting at the end of 1Q this year. If Dell manages to maintain this strong performance, it may reach a new height in annual shipments.

Lenovo's shipments for the first quarter had suffered from CPU shortage and stood at 6.67 million units, a 15.5% YoY decline. In an attempt to boost 1Q shipments, Lenovo adopted AMD CPUs in nearly 30% of its new notebooks and is currently the brand that has made the greatest transition to AMD CPUs. However, the market's low acceptance of AMD CPUs and the question of whether end customers are buying remains to be a great challenge for Lenovo.

Though fourth place Apple performed somewhat unimpressively in recent years, shipments for the first quarter rose upwards by 10% compared to the same period last year, reaching 3.15 million units. This was mainly due to the CPU shortage at the end of 2018, which delayed market appearance of Apple's new notebooks, moving the “honeymoon period” down to 1Q19. Furthermore, Apple will be discontinuing the outdated 13.3-inch Air and 15.4-inch Pro notebooks and release the new and improved 13.3-inch Air/Pro and 16- inch Pro models. These new Air models may push 2Q shipments further up.

Taiwan's double aces did not receive as much support in CPUs as American brands did, and thus felt the effects of undersupply more strongly. ASUS reached 2.54 million units in shipments and landed at 5th place, while Acer reached 2.51 million and took 6th. ASUS' shipments dropped 23.3% YoY in 1Q, the largest decline registered among all brands. ASUS sought to maintain basic operations since its reorganization at the end of last year, thus despite the effects of CPU shortage, the main reason for their gloomy shipment decline was actually the readjustment of brand strategies. Acer, on the other hand, had the largest supply gap in CPUs, which affected notebooks from the high end i7 series all the way down to low-end Chromebooks, preventing assembly and, hence, shipment.

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