Tech Market Snapshot: 3D printer market up, semiconductor revenue down, ‘huge opportunity’ for mobiles

We roundup the latest news from IT analysts and firms to see which tech categories have been doing well, which haven’t, and what’s forecast to be big in the near future.

Global 3D printer market up 19% in Q4 2015
Worldwide shipments of 3D printers rose 19 per cent in Q4 2015 compared to a year ago, according to Context.

Of the total 73,012 units shipped in the final quarter of last year, 96 per cent of these were desktop/personal printers, mostly priced below $5,000, representing a 22 per cent year-on-year growth rate.

Shipments of 3D printers in the industrial/professional segment declined 24 per cent over the same period with 2,907 printers shipped.

"This nascent side of the 3D printer market again saw great changes in 2015,” noted Chris Connery, VP for Global Analysis at Context.

"Companies with a long standing presence in the additive manufacturing market scaled back their expectations for this newer, desktop side of the market, retooling to concentrate more on their core B2B competences.

He added: “Other brands look to capitalise on these refocused efforts, however with start-ups, toy companies, IT companies and tool companies all competing in the market from different angles, yet all looking to get a piece of the continued strong demand for these devices.”

Worldwide semiconductor revenue declined 2.3% in 2015
Worldwide semiconductor revenue totalled $334.8 billion in 2015, a 2.3 per cent decline from 2014, according to final results by Gartner.

The combined revenue of the top 25 semiconductor vendors fell by 0.5 per cent during 2015. This was a better performance than the rest of the market, however, which saw a 6.9 per cent revenue decline.

The top 25 vendors accounted for 73.5 per cent of the market, down slightly from 74 per cent in 2014.

“The worldwide semiconductor market declined in 2015 as slowing demand for key applications combined with strong currency fluctuations to subdue the market," said Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner.

"2015 saw a mixed performance by the different device categories, unlike 2014 when all categories posted positive growth. Nonoptical sensors performed best due to increased usage of fingerprint sensors in smartphones, while discretes saw the strongest decline due to a mix of weak demand and currency issues.”

LTE-capable mobile phones to account for half of all shipments in 2016
Over the next five years CCS Insight expects smartphone sales to grow from 1.5 billion units in 2016 to 2 billion units in 2020. Furthermore, as smartphones continue to displace non-smartphones, over two billion new smartphone owners will emerge over the next five years, taking the number of smartphone users from 3.1 billion in 2015 to 5.4 billion in 2020.

Jasdeep Badyal, analyst for smart devices at CCS Insight, commented: "Despite a popular misconception that mobile phone growth has ceased, there remains a huge market opportunity. Adoption of new technology is also being boosted as users upgrade to increasingly affordable LTE-capable smartphones."

The new research confirms that LTE device shipments doubled between 2014 and 2015, rising from 443 million units to 900 million units. China accounted for much of the growth, seeing LTE-capable device shipments more than triple from 93 million to 317 million.

Badyal continued: "LTE momentum shows no signs of abating. In 2016 we expect LTE-capable devices to account for 50 per cent of all smartphone shipments; and we expect that to rise to 72 per cent of the market by 2020.”

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