Gartner cuts forecast for 2015 chip market growth
Worldwide semiconductor revenues are forecast to reach US$354 billion in 2015, a 4% increase from 2014, according to Gartner. However, the prediction is down from Gartner’s previous estimate of a 5.4% increase.
“Concern is mounting about semiconductor revenue growth in 2015 as system suppliers start to grapple with the rapid depreciation in value of global currencies relative to the US dollar, excess inventories in the semiconductor and electronics supply chains, and the end of a PC upgrade cycle,” said Bryan Lewis, research vice president at Gartner. “The downward revision from last quarter’s forecast is due to these three factors combining to create a significant headwind for the semiconductor market in 2015.”
The strong dollar is causing system suppliers and system buyers to re-evaluate their strategies. System suppliers will raise prices in select regions such as Europe to keep their margins intact as well as de-feature some products to maintain current price points. System buyers will push out purchases in select regions, extending product life cycles as well as buying down the price curve. All this leads to reduced semiconductor growth in 2015, Gartner said.
From an application point of view, smartphones, solid-state drives (SSDs) and ultra-mobiles will see the largest semiconductor growth, while the traditional PC segment will experience the greatest decline, Gartner noted. The end of support for Windows XP, which lifted the replacement demand for traditional PCs, particularly in the professional market, faded out in late 2014. Through 2015, the replacement demand is expected to remain muted, as consumers delay migrating to Windows 10. The next critical season for the PC and ultra-mobile markets is in the third quarter of 2015, when Windows 10 and Intel’s Skylake products come to market.
From a device point of view, DRAM continues to be one of the primary growth drivers of the overall industry, Gartner indicated. DRAM revenues are expected to increase 7.9% in 2015, following a 32% increase in 2014. However, Gartner maintains its view that the good times in DRAM will come to an end in 2016 and 2017 when the DRAM industry revenues will decline 20.2% and 8.4%, respectively. While this may seem like a dire outlook, it is actually slightly better than the previous quarter’s forecast for 2016 and 2017 declines of 30.1% and 20.0%, respectively.