Mobile phone IC sales will top personal computing in 2017

22nd June 2017
Joe Bush

Sales growth in both mobile phones and personal computing systems is being driven by higher memory prices, however, research by IC Insights claims that mobile handsets will become the largest application for ICs this year.

The ongoing slump in shipments of standard personal computers along with the drop-off in tablets are setting the stage for mobile IC sales to finally surpass integrated circuit revenues in total personal computing systems this year, based on new forecasts in the recently released update of IC Insights’ 2017 IC Market Drivers Report.

IC sales for mobile phone handsets are projected to grow 16% in 2017 to $84.4bn, as shown in Figure 1 (below), while the integrated circuit market for personal computing systems (desktop and notebook PCs, tablets and thin-client Internet-centric units) is now forecast to increase nine percent to $80.1bn this year, according to the 150-page update to the 590-page report, originally released in Q4 2016.

IC sales for both mobile phones and total personal computing systems are strengthening significantly in 2017 primarily because of strong increases in the amount of money being spent on memory, with the average selling price (ASP) of DRAM expected to climb 53% and NAND flash ASP forecast to rise 28% this year. In 2016, IC sales for mobile phone handsets grew two percent after rising one percent in 2015, while dollar volume for integrated circuits used in personal computing systems increased just one percent last year after falling six percent in 2015. Mobile phone IC sales are also getting a lift from a projected five percent increase in shipments of smartphones, which are being packed with more low power DRAM and non-volatile flash storage, while growth in personal computing is expected to be held back by three percent declines in both standard personal computer and tablet unit volumes in 2017.

Mobile phone IC sales will top personal computing in 2017

Shrinking shipments of desktop and notebook computers enabled mobile phone IC sales to surpass integrated circuit revenues for standard PCs in 2013. During 2015 and 2016, mobile phone IC sales came close to catching up with integrated circuit sales for total personal computing systems. In 2017, mobile phone handsets are now forecast to take over as the largest end use systems category for IC sales. The gap between IC sales for mobile phones and total personal computing systems is projected to widen by the end of this decade. Mobile phone integrated circuit sales are expected to increase by a compound annual growth average (CAGR) of 5.3% in the 2015-2020 forecast period to $92.1bn versus personal computing IC revenues rising by CAGR of just 2.9% to $83.8bn in 2020, claim the Update of IC Insights’ 2017 IC Market Drivers Report.

The refreshed forecast shows IC sales for standard PCs climbing 11.2% in 2017 to $67.5bn after increasing about four percent in 2016 to $60.7bn. Tablet IC sales are now expected to drop two percent to $11.8bn in 2017 after falling 11% in 2016 to $12.1bn, based on the updated outlook. IC sales for thin client and internet/cloud computing centric systems, such as laptops based on Google’s Chromebook platform design, are projected to rise 15% in 2017 to a $838m after surging 21% in 2016 to $728m. Between 2015 and 2020, IC sales for standard PCs are expected to grow by a CAGR of 4.1% to $71.6bn in the final year of the updated outlook, while table integrated circuit revenues are projected to fall by -3.9% annual rate in the period to about $11.0bn and ICs in internet/cloud computing are forecast to rise by CAGR of 13.8% to more than $1.1bn.

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