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"Although notebook manufacturers are now at the end of their preparation for the year-end holiday season, they are still active in production planning in order to achieve the shipment goal this year", says Kou-Han Tseng, TrendForce notebook analyst. However, 4Q18 shipments are estimated to drop by 1.9% YoY as the below-expected supply continues, with almost no inventory of CPU, and the shortage of mainstream CPU is expected to retain in 1H19.
In addition, with the China-US trade dispute simmering, there are concerns about the trade tariffs on goods imported to the U.S. from China. It is said that notebooks may be included in the new tariff list, but it is still not clear whether the list will come into effect.
However, notebook brands and ODMs have been considering strategies to cope with the situation. Relocating the production facilities appear to be a feasible solution so far, but it will result in higher costs, re-verifying of products and factories, as well as longer lead time. Another solution will be starting notebook production in advance, which may increase the inventory level, but could lower the risks compared with the former solution.
In terms of the shipment ranking, HP stays in the lead in 3Q18, with 10.8 million units shipped. For the whole year of 2018, the shipment is expected to rise 5% YoY to arrive at around 42 million units, better than the average shipment level in the industry.
Lenovo remains the second largest notebook manufacturer in 3Q18, shipping 8.44 million notebooks (excluding shipments from brands that Lenovo acquired). The shipments dropped 1.6% YoY due to the slowdown in Chinese domestic market.
Dell ranked the third with shipments of 7.18 million units, an increase of 8% YoY. Due to rising commercial notebook sales, Dell’s shipments for the whole year are projected to increase by over 12% YoY, the highest among the top six notebook makers. The company’s annual shipments are expected to reach 28 million units.
Asus, ranking the fourth, shipped 3.58 million units. While the whole notebook market gains growth momentum from the commercial segment, Asus chooses to focus on niche products with better profitability. As the result, Asus has seen YoY declines in shipments for eight consecutive quarters. For this year, the YoY decline in Asus’s annual shipments may become steeper, exceeding 10%.
Apple and Acer showed similar performances in Q3, shipping 3.36 million and 3.35 million units respectively. Compared with their performances in the same period of last year, however, Apple post significant declines but Acer registered growth. Apple this year adopted a new processor in its high-end MacBook Pro with OLED Bar, but the performance improvements hardly attract more customers due to the series’ high price tags.
Moreover, the launch of new MacBook Air was delayed to Q4, and Apple’ Q3 shipments turned out to fall by 24.3% YoY as the result. As for Acer, who focuses on both profitability and shipment volume, its Q3 shipments grew by 1.4% YoY. Particularly, its Chromebook series became an impetus for the shipment growth, while its niche gaming notebooks also registered outstanding performance.
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