The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the shift to telecommuting, learning and entertainment have driven high demand for laptops. It started to grow in the second quarter of last year, so there was a deficit in the third and fourth quarters that has not yet been eliminated. According to analytical company TrendForce, high demand for laptops will lead to the fact that in the current quarter will be recorded a historical maximum of shipments – 65.3 million units. This is 3.5% more than in the fourth quarter, which is contrary to seasonal patterns. Growth in annual terms is 46.5%.
TrendForce estimates panel suppliers increased shipments by more than 20% quarter-on-quarter over the same period last year, but laptop demand grew faster. The result was a worsening of the shortage. Currently, orders for panels from laptop manufacturers exceed the capabilities of panel suppliers by about 30-50%. Lack of certain semiconductor components is hindering the expansion of panel production.
The predictable reaction of the free market has been soaring prices for laptop panels. Significantly, 11.6-inch panels, commonly used in Chromebooks, now cost about the same as 14 and 15.6-inch panels.
TrendForce predicts that increased demand for laptop panels is likely to continue throughout the second and third quarters. In part, it can be supported by the desire of some laptop manufacturers to secure excess stock for themselves due to fears of further shortages.