• IT Supply Chain Insights - May 2016


Executive Summary



The largest number of price increases happened on April 18, with 22,077 rises in a single day.

Jump to Monthly Stats
  • iPhone experiences worst ever quarterly decline
  • Virtual reality hardware set for global success
  • Industrial PCs enjoy positive growth

Results from Q1 2016 started to show this month, with the outcome proving the IT channel has an equal amount of positives and negatives. Although the euro had a strong start reaching impressive highs against both the GBP and US dollar, mid-month it experienced extreme instability with a surprisingly week end to the month.

Smartphones saw significantly low shipments down YoY, with Apple's iPhone shipments nearly halved. Semiconductors lost notable revenue and worldwide PC shipments continued their double-digit descend. As smartphone interest declines the anticipation for virtual reality hardware grows, with a prediction to reach a multi-billion-dollar revenue status with nearly 10m units shipped in 2016 while affordable large size and 4k resolution LCD panels are driving worldwide panel shipments.


Exchange Rate


A strong start, with an unexpected mid-month twist resulted in a terrible month for the euro in contrast to the GBP. Beginning at 0.7964 and climbing steadily to 0.8079 by 7th April, the euro then plummeted, first slipping to 0.7957 on 13th April. After a couple of days of relative security, the euro nosedived, resting only at 0.7789 by 23rd April and reaching its monthly trough of 0.7759 by 27th April. The final three days of relished in a small reprieve, listing to conclude the month out at 0.7831.

US Dollar (USD) per 1 Euro (EUR)

Exchange Rate Graph EUR vs USD for April 2016

The story for the US dollar was a different one altogether. Sitting motionless for almost two weeks, after starting the month at 1.1385, it wasn't until 12th April that the euro dropped significantly in contrast to the USD, falling from 1.1403 to 1.1264 by 14th April. A confident rise to 1.1349 on 20th April was short-lived when the euro hit is monthly low of 1.1220 on 23rd April. Then in an astonishing turn, the euro skyrocketed to conclude the month at 1.444.

British Pound (GBP) per 1 Euro (EUR)

Exchange Rate Graph EUR vs GBP for April 2016

The only really positive report to come out of the Eurozone this month was that the economy grew 0.6% across Q1 2016. That said, the region is burdened with debt and with deflation hitting again in April it has left the EU with even more of a headache. With the 'Brexit ', referendum due in June it continues to weigh heavily on the UK economy.

Euro (EUR) per 1 British Pound (GBP)

Exchange Rate Graph GBP vs EUR for April 2016

US Dollar (USD) per 1 British Pound (GBP)

Exchange Rate Graph GBP vs USD for April 2016  

Price Changes


Price Changes and News throughout April 2016

Phones and Tablets

Apple's iPhone released its largest ever quarterly shipment drop in Q1 2016, dropping 43.8% from 75m to 42m units QoQ, and contributing significantly to the 18.6% QoQ worldwide smartphone shipment reduction to 292m units. On the other hand, Samsung exceeded expectations with 82m units and 2.5% gain on the last quarter.

Based on the analysis by TrendForce, Chinese brands accounted for 42.9% of all Q1 shipments, reaching 125m units and exceeded Samsung and Apple's combined totals for the very first time.

According to the analysis by Trendforce, the rest of the year looks gloomy for Apple who do not expect to come back with any positive growth. Trendforce revised its estimate for iPhone sales down 10% from last year to 213m units.

IDC reported that tablet shipments dipped 14.7% YoY in Q1 2016 to 39.6m units, although they did include detachable units. A report from Trendforce highlighted a 35% reduction in tablet shipments for Q1 on the last quarter with 35.2m units and a YoY drop of 7.9%. The same report highlighted that Amazon made the headlines by shipping 2.2m units in Q1, representing a 47% drop on the Q4 2015 but up 337% YoY.

Traditional PCs

Unsurprisingly, Q1 2016 worldwide PC shipments fell, down 11.5% YoY to 60.6m units, reported the IDC. While deep-rooted 2015 issues, channels, vendors and users remain wary about new purchases. on a brighter note, inventory reductions seem to be wrapping up and with the corporate and education buying season historically starting in Q2, a reprieve is coming for the PC market. Gartner was a little bit more optimistic in its figures, reporting worldwide Q1 PC shipments fell 9.6% YoY to 64.8m units, taking note of the currency issues against the USD being the explanation for the impact on the industry. Whichever figures you choose to believe, it represented the market's sixth consecutive quarterly drop and the first time since 2007 that volumes fell below 65m.

Gartner reported, regionally, shipments to the Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) market had declined 10% YoY to 19.5m units, with the region proving to be somewhat dispersed. Shipments to the UK and Germany remained stable while France was hit by HD TV upgrades, the Middle East with oil prices and economical and political instability, and Russia and Ukraine with extended festive activities.

In a shining light, Q1 commercial notebook PCs growth returned in Western Europe (1.3%) and Central and Eastern Europe (0.7%) whilst the industrial PC market is predicted to increased and stabilise the industry by 2018. IHS predicts worldwide revenue to cultivate at a 6% compound yearly rate from 2014 to attain $4.3b in 2019.

Premium Ultramobiles/Wearables

Canalys reported, shipments of two-in-one tablet PCs increased 13% YoY in Q1 2016, with North America revelling in particular success with the iPad Pro and Surface Pro 4.

On the contrary, worldwide shipments of smartwatches, grew 223% YoY in Q1, reaching 4.2m units but falling 48% on Q4 (down from 8.1m) as a result of seasonal trends. Based on Strategy Analytics, Apple's market share dropped 11% on the quarter to sit at 52%.

Shipments of virtual reality hardware in 2016 will reach 9.6m units and generate $2.3b in revenue, reported IDC, with augmented reality hardware to follow suit in the next years.

IDC forecasts combined shipments of VR/AR hardware will reach 110m units in 2020, and in preparation has split the industry into different segments; screen-less viewers that use smartphones (such as Samsung Gear VR), tethered head mounted displays that use PCs and game consoles (like the Oculus Rift), and standalone head mounted displays with integrated processors, like the Microsoft HoloLens.

TrendForce is expecting VR to drive the worldwide market for gaming PCs and peripheral sales and will reach $24.35b for 2016.

Processors, MEMs, Semiconductors

Based on the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), worldwide semiconductor sales hit $26.1b in March, up 0.3% on February which the SIA also reported fell 3.2% on January and 6.2% YoY as a result of reduced demand, normal seasonal trends and macroeconomic conditions. Q1 2016 sales dropped 5.5% QoQ and 5.8 YoY to $78.3 billion.

Gartner's 2016 worldwide semiconductor revenue forecast suggests a 0.6% fall to $333b, after the 2.3% drop in 2015 and lowered PC, ultra-mobile and smartphone production estimates.

Without any significant near-term driver appearing to offset the reduction, the report noted there are emerging opportunities in IoT and wearables markets for semiconductors, but the existing early stages of development are too small to really have a significant overall effect on overall semiconductor revenue growth in 2016.


South Korea giant SK Hynix released its Q1 financial results, noting significant QoQ and YoY losses in both revenue and shipments. Based on SKHynix, shipments of DRAM fell 3% in Q1 in comparison to Q4, noting unit price has dropped 14% as a result of slowing PC, server and mobile DRAM markets. NAND flash shipments dropped 11% on the quarter and 12% in selling price as a result of weakening mobile device demand.

Meanwhile, Intel's reliance on the PC market and its unwillingness to bounce back has seen the business produce a well-defined decision to broaden into other markets including data centres and the IoT. It recently cut 12,000 jobs saving $750m.


Seagate was top of everyone's agenda for storage this month. It noted HDD shipments down 22% YoY with 39.2m units, and also anticipated that it would defy the industry movement by mass-producing its enterprise-targeted 10TB helium filled 3.5" HDD storage devices.

This announcement comes within the same time-frame that the Register reported disk drive spindle motor manufacturer Nidec's prediction of a decrease in demand. The firm anticipates 2016 shipments to drop 13% YoY to 400m units while the industry will continue steadily to decrease right through to 2020 with 333m units.

The report also highlighted enterprise HDD shipments will increase from 37m units in 2015 to 48m by 2020, a very different story from the April 2015 prediction of 44m in 2015 to 91m in 2020.


Large-size LCD panels are at the most affordable price they've ever been and are becoming the first choice for first-time buyers and older set replacement.

Based on TrendForce's report, competitively priced 65-inch panels made by Chinese brands for example Xiaomi and LeTV have end up being the economical choice for buyers, while demand for 4K resolution technology has additionally helped drive large-size LCD sales. TrendForce predicts 4K to achieve 23.8% of the market with 53m units shipped in 2016, up from 13.7% in 2015.

The report also predicts shipments by LCD panel size will discover 50+ inch grow 40% YoY, 46-50-inch will face constrained growth as a result of falling larger panel prices and 40-50-inch will increase 30% of the industry exceeding the 32-inch segment, which of the best 15 brands is anticipated to drop 4.7% to 26% of units shipped.

In another report, TrendForce noted Q1 shipments for LCD TVs fell 20.9% on Q4 and 6.3% YoY with 48.32m units.

Meanwhile, the sluggish mobile market has panel makers concentrating on new thinner, brighter and more flexible in-cell and on-cell touch-screens, which IHS suggests paired with some aggressive pricing will reach 50% share of most smartphone displays shipped in 2017. In addition, it reported the worldwide notebook PC display market fell 23% YoY in Q1, with falling notebook shipments driving higher-resolution display manufacturing.


Metal 3D printing has transformed into the fastest growing segment of 3D printing, PR Newswire reported, with metal printer sales up 48%. The report suggested 3D metal printing has become the way for the future, earmarking plastic 3D printers for prototypes and educational purposes.

The report also noted due to the cost to output ratio being high, aerospace and biomedical industries were early leaders. It noted companies for example GE Aviation with its $3.5b plant investment to print 100,000 fuel nozzles by 2020 and Arcam's 50,000 orthopaedic implants as the existing innovation leaders.

The report also forecasts dentists and jewellers to be the industries that will follow taking on and succeed with metal printing.


Monthly Stats


New products increased and decreased significantly consistently throughout the month, starting with a drop from 506 on 3rd April to 40 on 4th April, up again to 371 on 8th April, right down to 3 on 11th April and up again to the month's peak at 598 on 13th April 13. This trend continued until it reached stability at 177 on 22nd-28th April, with a leap up to as much as 394 on 29th April.

HP dominated new products by brand while Cisco led both price increase and reduction numbers by manufacturer. Total daily price increase started on a high and then sat comfortably at 19,637 until a decline to 12,052 on 6th April. An instant recovery to 21,853 stabilised movement for a week, although not before a drop to 9,879 on 12th April and another dramatic drop to 21 on 15th April. A sharp increase to 22,077 on 19th April did not last, with the remaining of the month moving between 1,000-5,000 until a jump to 9,302 came at the end of the month.

Daily price decreases were just as scattered, sitting at 4,007 until 3rd April and jumping to 17,561 on 4th April, with the rising and falling trend continuing through the month. Two key highlights such as the dramatic fall to 43 on 15th April where it sat for three days and a leap to 24,820 on 26th April before falling to conclude the month at 10,199.

Stock movements were also erratic, with the major highlights including stock down peaking at 34,951 on 11th April 11, dropping to 21 on 15th April and rebounding to 30,574 on 28th April, only conclude the month down at 11,304. Stock up started low, sat above 26,000 from 8th- 10th April, hovered at 3,000 from 19th-26th April, hit its monthly peak 27,750 on 27th April and finished down at 4,452.

New Products April 2016

New Products Graph for March 2016

Prices and Stock Movements April 2016

Prices and Stock Movements Graph for March 2016



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