Fast approaching the size of major international brand vendors, smartphone maker HTC said it expects to ship upwards of 6.5 million handsets in the third quarter of 2010. If HTC reaches its goal -- and there's every reason to believe the company will -- it will represent a 132 percent increase from the same quarter one year ago.
HTC's rise as a dominant handset maker has come seemingly overnight. The reason, says company CFO Cheng Hui-ming, is that HTC thrived largely as a niche player, riding the waves of a single hot product every year. In more recent times, HTC has been able to pump out several popular smartphones simultaneously, and that's made all the difference in the world.
As Cheng sees it, HTC will continue to be a major force rather than this being a temporary upswing in shipments. The company plans to increase monthly capacity at both its Taoyuan and Shanghai plants to two million and one million units, respectively, in 3Q10, Cheng said.
Chalk it up to successful marketing or a genuine desire to consume 3D content in the home, goofy looking glasses be damned, but according to DisplaySearch, 2010 will come to an end having seen 3.4 million shipments of 3D TVs. And that's just the beginning. By 2014, that number will skyrocket to 42.9 million, more than a 12-fold increase.
"TV manufacturers have managed to launch products very rapidly. We have seen a full range of 3D TVs in sizes from 40 inches to 63 inches already available, and without a doubt, there will be another wave of new products at the IFA show in Berlin in September," noted Paul Gray, DisplaySearch Director of TV Electronics Research.
DisplaySearch feels pretty confident this is much bigger than a passing fad and predicts that the 3D TV market penetration will grow from 5 percent of total flat panel TVs in 2010 to 37 percent in 2014. That's more than a third of all flat panel TV shipments.
"Based on early indications, the launch of 3D TVs is similar to Samsung's rollout of LED LCD TVs at the beginning of 2009, albeit at a slightly slower pace," said Paul Gagnon, Director of North America TV Research at DisplaySearch. "This would be in line with our forecast of just over 2 million 3D TVs shipped in North America for 2010.
Despite all this, DisplaySearch points out that the electronics industry is outpacing content availability, which so far is limited to a handful of movies and sports events on pay TV.
We don't know if the Consumer Electronics Association is playing the part of Captain Obvious by saying that tablet shipments will double in the U.S. in 2011, or Captain Conservative considering how well this emerging segment has been performing as largely a one-man show.
"Considering these products weren't on the market a year [ago], it's staggering how fast they are developing," said Steve Kidera, a CEA spokesman.
According to Apple, the one-man show shipped its three millionth iPad just 80 days after its introduction in the U.S., and that number is even higher here a month later. Other companies are planning to join in the fun, however, and the CEA predicts we'll see U.S. tablet shipments reach 6.9 million units by the end of the year, generating revenue of $4.3 billion.
Impressive as all this is, CEA may be underselling the tablet market a bit. Apple's iPad has been on the market for less than four months, and we've yet to see all these promised slates materialize. But they're coming, and combined with a possible iPad refresh as early as April 2011, there's certainly potential for the tablet market to more than double in size next year.
After a rough start to the summer, motherboard manufacturers are seeing sales pick up this this month and have turned optimistic about the third-quarter. Shipments are on pace to grow 20 percent on month in July, and if things continue this way, shipments will grow 15-20 percent sequentially for the quarter.
This is a far different picture than the gloom and doom scenario top-tier motherboard makers were painting just a short time ago. But as demand has started to pick up in Europe and China, so has their confidence that they'll be able to move more boards than previously thought.
So far this year, Asus has shipped roughly 10.3 million of its own-branded boards, followed by Gigabyte with 8.4 million units. ECS shipped the third most boards with 4.4 million units, followed by MSI and ASRock (a subsidiary of Asus) at 3.8 million and 3.9 million units, respectively.
Nope, the PC still isn't dead. But don't just take our word for it, market research firm IDC, which spends its time tracking these sort of things, indicated that the PC market grew by 22.4 percent in the second quarter of 2010 despite lingering concerns over the economy.
"The PC market remains robust, and in a recovery phase, despite challenges to a broader economic recovery, such as slow job growth and a more conservative outlook in Europe and Asia Pacific," said Jay Chou, research analyst with IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker. "The factors which led to the recent PC rebound, an aging commercial installed base, a proliferation of low-cost media-centric PCs, and low PC penetration through much of the world, remain key drivers going forward."
Nobody's benefiting more from this than Asus, who noted an 83.6 percent year-over-year growth rate, nearly double that of Lenovo, which had the second highest growth rate at 47.3 percent.
The bean counters at Asus, Gigabyte, MSI, and every other first-tier motherboard maker are working overtime crunching numbers and trying to get a pulse on the mobo market.
June hasn't been kind to any of the motherboard makers except MSI, which saw revenues jump 13.05 percent over the previous month. ECS took the biggest hit, recording a drop of 17.73 percent, followed by Asus at 5.53 percent. Gigabyte, Pegatron, and ASRock also skidded backwards to the tune of 5.48 percent, 3.1 percent, and 0.94 percent, respectively.
But while June wasn't particularly kind to most of the major motherboard players, they've all seen positive gains for the year, except for ASRock, which is down 11.94 percent. Asus is the biggest winner, having increased its revenues to 68.62 percent on year, while Pegatron and MSI recorded gains of 20.4 percent and 19.03 percent, respectively. Everyone else saw double digit gains as well.
IBM isn't the only one setting records this week. Quanta Computer, the biggest contract laptop maker in the galaxy, set the record for both shipments and revenue in June, Infoworld.com reports.
"We expect July to slow down a little bit from June, but [shipments] should come back in August," a Quanta representative said.
What makes these record highs even more impressive is the ongoing bond crisis in Europe, which has negatively affected demand in the tech sector. Even still, Quanta managed to ship 4.8 million laptops in June and take in NT$100.2 billion (US$3.12 billion) in revenue, the company said. The record before then was 4.5 million units and NT$97.0 billion (US$3.02 billion).
The number of iPads flooding the market speaks of two things. First, the lack of Flash support and other key features (USB, microSD card slot, multitasking, camera) hasn't hurt Apple nearly as much as some might have anticipated. And secondly, the competition needs to step up to the plate and offer a better tablet, because buyers are obviously out there.
It's turning out to be a banner year for TV makers, who according to market research firm DisplaySearch, will ship more than 242 million TV sets globally in 2010. That number marks a 15 percent on-year growth rate, made even more significant when you consider shipments only grew by 2 percent in 2009.
Not surprisingly, LCD displays are performing exceptionally well with a 29 percent growth rate to 188 million units, but don't go counting out plasma and CRT TVs just yet. DisplaySearch says both have a better outlook in 2010 than previously expected. Plasma TV shipments, for example, rose 24 percent on-year in the first quarter of 2010, driven by demand for high value-per-inch.
On the LCD side, LED-backlit displays are quickly gaining ground. While only 3.9 million LED-backlit LCD TVs were shipped around the globe in the 2009, DisplaySearch expects that number to jump to 37 million units in 2010.
"Most of the top LCD TV brands are strongly emphasizing LED technology in an attempt to offset declining profits and prices fo CCFL-backlit models," said Hisakazu Torii, VP of TV market research for DisplaySearch. "This has led to a shortage of critical LED backlight components, and the lofty goals for LED market share in 2010 have been tempered somewhat by the reality of supply constraints."
By the end of the year, DisplaySearch reckons LED-backlit displays will account for 20 percent of total LCD shipments.
Hard drive makers living high on the hog will find themselves in a bit of rut in the second half of 2010, which sources say is the result of Europe's ongoing bond crisis. Both third and fourth quarter HDD shipments are now expected to be 5-10 percent lower than originally forecast.
This is the same time period that's traditionally been considered the peak season for the IT industry, but hard drive makers are already starting to feel the pinch. Citing a research firm's figures, shipments once expected to reach 165 million units in the second quarter have now been reduced to 152-155 million.
If there's a silver lining, it's that 2010 has been particularly strong overall. Even though none of the HDD players are likely to reach their original shipment goals for the second half of 2010, shipments for the entire year should still end up seeing growth compared to 2009.