According to some new numbers for iSupply, the total number of wireless subscriptions in the world will reach 5 billion this month. That's the equivalent of nearly three-quarters of the world's population. Of course, some people will have multiple lines, perhaps business and personal, but the number is still huge. “If the importance of an event can be measured by the number of people it affects, then the proliferation of wireless communications stands out as one of the most significant phenomena in the history of technology,” said Dr. Jagdish Rebello of iSupply.
Not all regions are equally saturated with mobile phones. Africa and the Middle East have the lowest penetration with only about 50%. On the high end is Western Europe where cell subscriptions out number people; about 157% penetration. Many Europeans have multiple low-cost subscriptions to enable calling when traveling to other countries.
It's often said that phones are the computing platforms of the future. These new numbers really drive the point home. People that could never hope to afford a computer can manage a cell subscription. iSupply feels this trend will continue to encourage the technology supply chain to shift away from traditional computer hardware, and toward mobile devices.
Trying to follow the ups and downs of the DRAM market is a crap-shoot at best, but market research firm iSuppli is doing its best and now believes we're in for a shortage.
There are two reasons for this. First, iSuppli says bottlenecks in the availability of tooling equipment are cause for concern, and secondly, challenges relating to immersion yield could throw a wrench into the whole operation.
On that second point, iSuppli says resource constrained companies could have trouble funding the transition to beyond 50nm and end up reducing their total output. Elpida, for example, is in the midst of moving from 6xnm to 45nm, but if the company should run into any unexpected yield issues along the way, bit production could be significantly disrupted, iSuppli said.
Or this could all be much ado about nothing. Stay tuned.
It's no secret that tablets are gearing up to become as popular as netbooks, but would you have guessed that the current and upcoming demand would push shipments of touchscreen displays up by 5,000 percent in 2010? First of all, that's not a typo, and secondly, that's the exact number market research firm iSuppli is predicting.
"The rising popularity of slates is setting off a conflagration in touch screen technology, firing up not only the long-dormant tablet computer market but also all-in-one PCs, desktops and monitors," said Rhoda Alexander, director of monitors and sustainability displays for iSuppli.
It's going to be a touchy-feely tech world in the coming years, iSuppli suggests. Global shipments of touchscreen tablets and tablet-like devices is expected to rise to 8.9 million units in 2010, up from only 176,000 in 2009. After than, touchscreen shipments will jump seven-fold by 2013 and reach 63.9 million units, iSuppli says.
Steve Jobs can say what he wants about tablets replacing PCs in the same manner that urban automobiles have replaced farm trucks in the past few decades (his comparison, not ours), the fact of the matter is the PC market is doing just fine, according to market research firm iSuppli. More than just fine, first quarter PC shipments skyrocketed by nearly 23 percent over the same period from last year, representing the highest annual surge iSuppli has ever recorded since it began keeping tabs on the market in 2003.
"Early 2009 represented one of the weakest periods in the history of the PC market, as consumer and corporate demand plunged due to the economic downturn," Matthew Wilkins, principal analyst for compute platforms at iSuppli, said in a statement. "With economic conditions improving, PC sales rebounded in early 2010."
PC makers shipped some 81.5 million units during the first quarter, driven in large part by high demand in Asian markets, iSuppli said. During the same period in 2009, shipments sank to just 66.5 million units.
While Hewlett Packard (HP) remains the market leader with a 19.6 percent share, Asus by far benefited the most from the increased demand, noting a whopping 136.2 percent year-over-year growth rate. The next closest was Lenovo, which noted a 58.5 percent growth rate, followed by Acer with 47.1 percent.
As they tend to do, iSupply has broken down the iPad and worked out just what all those magical components are. After compiling and pricing all the individual parts, iSupply has estimated that there are $259.60 in parts in each 16GB Wi-Fi only iPad. That model retails for $499 leaving Apple with a healthy 48% gross margin.
The components associated with the display accounted for the largest proportion of the price, over 40%. The flash memory was also a big contributor to cost, but the increased price of these models keeps the margins around 50%. Clearly these numbers don't include R&D costs, but Apple has a reputation for maintaining higher margins than other hardware makers, who try to make up for lower margins with more sales over time.
We may not know just how much Apple is making on each iPad, but it seems clear they aren't taking a loss. The upcoming release of that 3G edition (with an extra $130 charge) should help as well. We look forward to the iSupply teardown of that model so we can see just what sort of magical 3G chip it has.
The economic squeeze that has been choking the tech industry might be loosening its grip. How so? Following news that the GPU market skyrocketed 21 percent in the third quarter with a strong outlook ahead, iSuppli reports global semiconductor revenues are signaling the start of a recovery.
"The seeds of the current recovery were sown in the second quarter," said Dale ford, senior vice president, market intelligence, for iSuppli. "During that period, manufacturers began to report positive book-to-bill ratios, indicating future revenue growth. This was followed by another sequential increase in revenues in the third quarter."
After a 5.8 percent decrease in 2008, the research firm estimates global semiconductor revenues will grow by 16.5 percent in 2009. Part of the reason for this comes from chip suppliers "slashing costs dramatically" to clear out unsold inventory in the third quarter.
iSuppli did warn that the first two quarters of 2010 will see revenues that are slightly down compared to the fourth quarter of 2009, but added that the second half of the year should show a strong 13.8 percent growth rate, finally ending the two-year losing streak.