World and Regional Monthly Electronic Equipment Shipments

Electronic equipment shipments are still declining compared to similar months in 2012.

  • Based upon the latest available data Chart 1 shows 3/12 growth rates of electronic equipment shipments for the USA, Europe, Japan and Taiwan (often with manufacturing in China). 3/12 growth is the ratio of the sum of 3 successive months to those same 3 months the prior year. In this chart a 3/12 value of 1.0 indicates zero growth with values below 1.0 indicating declines. All regions had "negative growth" (3/12 < 1) for the most recent months in 2013.
  • Combining the 3/12 regional growth rates in Chart 1 with a base year estimate yields monthly electronic equipment shipments in US dollars by month (Chart 2).
  • Chart 3 sums the values in Chart 2 to yield total world electronic equipment shipments by month. The downturn in early 2013 was significant with the current seasonal recovery not very robust.

Regional data interpreted by Custer Consulting Group

U.S. May Electronic Equipment Shipments, Orders and Inventories

Based on the U.S. Durable Goods report released this past week U.S. electronics demand is improving but it remains below 2012 levels.

  • The electronic equipment book/bill ratio rose to 1.04 on the strength of stronger communication equipment orders (Chart 4).
  • Despite an improving book/bill ratio electronic equipment order and shipment growth remains negative (3/12 < 1.0) compared to 2012 (Chart 5).
  • Electronic equipment orders rose sequentially in May driven by communication equipment (Chart 6).
  • The ratio of electronic equipment inventory/orders declined due to stronger orders (Chart 7).
  • Defense capital goods orders improved but remained below the shipment trend line (Chart 8).
  • Defense and commercial aircraft/parts shipments grew sequentially in May (Chart 9).
  • Communication equipment demand improved (Chart 10) but computer equipment sales remained flat (Chart 11).
  • Semiconductor shipment growth to North America is negative following a buying "bubble" in late 2012 (Chart 12).


Japanese April Electronic Equipment, Device and Component Shipments

JEITA just released Japanese electronic equipment, component and device shipments by type for April:

  • Electronic equipment shipments declined sharply in April following a strong increase in March (Charts 13 & 14).
  • PCB shipments declined slightly from March (Chart 15) as their 3/12 "growth" was 0.76 (24% decline in Feb-Apr 2013 vs. 2012 per Chart 16).
  • Component (-11%) and device (-7%) shipment remained 2012 levels (Chart 17).
  • Semiconductor shipments to Japan exceed electronic equipment shipments on a 3/12 growth basis (Chart 18).


Worldwide PC, Tablet and Mobile Phone Shipments to Grow 5.9% in 2013 as Anytime-Anywhere Computing Drives Buyer Behavior (Charts 19-21)

Traditional PC Shipments to Decline 10.6% in 2013, While Tablet Shipments Increase 67.9%

Worldwide devices (the combined shipments of PCs, tablets and mobile phones) are projected to reach 2.35 billion units in 2013, a 5.9% increase from 2012, according to Gartner, Inc. The market is being driven by sales in tablets, smartphones, and to a lesser extent, ultramobiles, as PC shipments are on the decline.

Worldwide traditional PC (desk-based and notebook) shipments are forecast to total 305 million units in 2013, a 10.6% decline from 2012, while the PC market including ultramobiles is forecast to decline 7.3% in 2013. Tablet shipments are expected to grow 67.9%, with shipments reaching 202 million units, while the mobile phone market will grow 4.3%, with volume of more than 1.8 billion units. The sharp decline in PC sales recorded in the first quarter was the result in a change in preferences in consumers’ wants and needs, but also an adjustment in the channel to make room for new products hitting the market in the second half of 2013.

"Consumers want anytime-anywhere computing that allows them to consume and create content with ease, but also share and access that content from a different portfolio of products. Mobility is paramount in both mature and emerging markets," said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner.

Demand for ultramobiles (which includes Chromebooks, thin and light clamshell designs, and slate and hybrid devices running Windows 8) will come from upgrades of both notebooks and premium tablets, such as the Apple iPad or Galaxy Tab10.1. Analysts said ultramobile devices are gaining in attractiveness and drawing demand away from other devices. This will be even more evident in the fourth quarter of 2013 when the combination of new design based on Intel processors Bay Trail and Haswell running on Windows 8.1 will hit the market. Although these devices will only marginally help overall sales volumes initially, they are expected to help vendors increase average selling prices (ASPs) and margins.

The tablet and smartphone markets are facing some challenges as these devices gain longer life cycles. There has also been a shift as many consumers go from premium tablets to basic tablets. The share of basic tablets is expected to increase faster than anticipated, as sales of the iPad Mini already represented 60% of overall iOS tablet sales in the first quarter of 2013.

"The increased availability of lower priced basic tablets, plus the value add shifting to software rather than hardware will result in the lifetimes of premium tablets extending as they remain active in the household for longer. We will also see consumer preferences split between basic tablets and ultramobile devices," said Ranjit Atwal, research director at Gartner. "With mobile phones, volume expectations for 2013 have been brought down as the life cycles lengthen as consumers wait for new models and lower prices to hit the market in the fall and holiday season. The challenge in the smartphone market is also that, as penetration moves more and more to the mass market, price points are lowering and in most cases so do margins."

"Although the numbers seem to paint a clear picture of who the winner will be when it comes to operating systems (OS) in the device market, the reality is that today ecosystem owners are challenged in having the same relevance in all segments," said Milanesi. "Apple is currently the more homogeneous presence across all device segments, while 90% of Android sales are currently in the mobile phone market and 85% of Microsoft sales are in the PC market."

Additionally, with enterprises’ growing acceptance of bring your own device (BYOD); there is an increase in consumer-owned devices in the computing world. Gartner forecasts that computing devices bought by consumers will grow from 65% in 2013 to 72% in 2017. This signifies the growing importance of designing for the consumer inside the enterprise.


Walt D. Custer

Walt Custer

Walt Custer is an industry analyst focused on the global electronics industry. Prior to forming Custer Consulting Group he was Vice President of Marketing and Sales for Morton Electronic Materials, a global supplier of specialty chemicals and process equipment for the PCB industry.

Custer has been a member of the IPC trade organization since 1975 where he received both the President's and the Raymond E. Pritchard Hall of Fame Awards. He is currently a member of the IPC Executive Market & Technology Steering Committee. Custer is also a Director of the EIPC European PCB trade organization.

He authors regular “Market Outlook” columns for Global SMT & Packaging magazine, the Journal of the HKPCA and the TTI MarketEYE website.

View other posts from Walt D. Custer. View other posts from Walt D. Custer.
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