Worldwide notebook shipments (not including 2-in-1 devices) surpassed 40 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, dropping only 1.2% on year. Shipments from Taiwan-based ODMs even achieved on-year shipment growth in the quarter thanks to strong demand from the US and Europe due to seasonality and US-based brand vendors expanding their presence in the market despite component shortages. In the first quarter, worldwide shipments will also enjoy on-year shipment growth as enterprises' adoption of Windows 10 grows steadily, while Microsoft's new free Windows licensing plan is growing popular among notebook vendors.
Hewlett-Packard (HP) was the largest vendor in the fourth quarter of 2016 and its shipments in the consumer and enterprise sectors as well as non-US markets all achieved better-than-expected results, allowing the vendor to widen its shipment gap with the second-place Lenovo to nearly two million units, according to Digitimes Research's latest figures.
However, Lenovo is expected to be able to narrow the gap in the first quarter thanks to increased demand during the Lunar New Year holiday period. The third-largest Dell will see limited on-quarter drop in first-quarter shipments because of its Chromebook and enterprise product shipments.
Apple is expected to place strong orders in the first quarter as demand for its new MacBook Pro will remain strong. Asustek Computer and Acer's first-quarter shipments will both be impacted by seasonality.
As for ODMs, Compal Electronics' notebook shipments accounted for over 30% of Taiwan's overall volume in the fourth quarter of 2016 as the top-3 vendors all increased their orders to Compal. Quanta Computer saw its shipment share drop in the quarter because of decreased orders from Lenovo. Compal's shipment gap with Quanta is expected to shrink to below 300,000 units in the first quarter.