TrendForce Expects Coronavirus to Hurt Supply of Notebooks, Monitors and More

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TrendForce said this morning that it expects the Coronavirus outbreak to cause lower-than-expected shipments of notebooks, monitors and other products in the first quarter of 2020 as manufacturers struggle to resume normal operations.

The research firm predicted that numerous product categories, from smartphones and smart watches to notebooks and monitors, will ship fewer units than originally anticipated. The actual change in its forecast varied from category to category.

Smart watches are expected to have it worst, for example, with a revised forecast of 12.1 million units shipped instead of 14.4 million. TVs are expected to have it better: TrendForce predicted a 4.5% drop from 48.8 million to 46.6 million units.

Other categories landed somewhere between those extremes. Of particular note are the declines for notebooks (12.3%), game consoles (10.1%) and monitors (5.2%). All three were expected to be hit by manufacturing delays or component shortages.

Here's what TrendForce had to say about notebooks:

"The downstream ODMs and brands in the supply chain are undoubtedly hit the most by the coronavirus outbreak. These companies lost precious working days after work resumption was postponed. After their production is resumed, on a whole, operators' work resumption rate is low. Besides, all types of materials and components are in shortage. Hence, productivity plummets. 

"To assemble a NB set requires complicated key components. At the current stage, NB's batteries, hinge, and PCB already experienced shortage or out of stock. This factor might cause some brands' shipment quantity to remarkably drop from previous prediction (35 million units) to 30.7 million units in 1Q20."

TrendForce wasn't alone in predicting supply issues for notebook makers. DigiTimes said last Friday that laptop (and smartphone and semiconductor) manufacturers were struggling to resume normal operations because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

The only category TrendForce didn't seem worried about was memory products. Companies stockpiled memory in anticipation of the Chinese New Year, which helps, as do the highly automated nature of these fabs and their shipping clearances.

Here's the good news: TrendForce currently believes that most of these product categories will be able to quickly recover from their problems in the first quarter. Assuming, of course, that the Coronavirus outbreak is resolved sooner than later.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.