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Apple's 2020 iPhone Delay - Impact On The Mobile DRAM Market

Jun. 08, 2020 10:07 PM ETApple Inc. (AAPL)AVGO, MU, SSNLF, HXSCL15 Comments


  • Apple's 2020 iPhone introduction may be delayed for 1-2 months because of supply chain cycle delays.
  • Smartphones shipments have been decreasing since they peaked in 2016, but more DRAM content per phone is a headwind for the mobile DRAM market.
  • Apple's iPhone DRAM demand represents only 12% of mobile DRAMs and its iPhones have less DRAM content than Android phones.
  • Huawei's smartphone shipments in 2019 demanded twice the DRAM content of Apple, but U.S. Commerce restrictions could be a headwind.
  • This idea was discussed in more depth with members of my private investing community, Semiconductor Deep Dive. Get started today »

Broadcom's (AVGO) CEO Hock E. Tan in his FYQ2 (ending May 3, 2020) earnings report on June 4, stated:

we are designing obviously in those flagship -- big flagship phones in our large North American OEM phone makers. We are, there is no question. The question is the timing. And you're right. In the past years, seasonally -- the business is seasonal and the trough of every fiscal year has been Q2. We believe, because of product cycle delays, the trough for our fiscal year will be Q3, this coming quarter. And that's why we reflected -- in our forecast that's reflected in our number and in the way we are guiding Q3.”

This product cycle delay by “our large North American OEM phone maker” implies Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) will delay the introduction of its 5G smartphone beyond its typical September introduction.

This article presents an analysis of the mobile DRAM market and the impact of Apple's 2020 iPhone introduction delay.

Chart 1 shows my forecast for 5G smartphones, growing from just 19 million units in 2019 to 1,042 million in 2024, driving demand for mobile DRAMs. China’s Huawei, which sold 7 million 5G phones in 2019, is forecast to sell 214 million in 2023. I forecast Apple will ship 40 million iPhones in 2020, assuming the delay will last 1-2 months.

Mobile DRAMs have been impacted by slow smartphone sales since they peaked in 2016. Table 1 shows that the average content per smartphone increased from 1.4 GB in 2015 to 3.9 GB in 2019. I forecast that amount to grow to 5.6 GB/phone in 2021, driven by 5G phone content.

Interestingly, Apple has less DRAM content per iPhone than the competitor's Android phones. This is part of the iPhone design, as the way iOS is coded makes a huge difference. In Androids, all processes

This free article presents my analysis of this semiconductor sector. A more detailed analysis is available on my Marketplace newsletter site Semiconductor Deep Dive. You can learn more about it here and start a risk-free 2-week trial now.

This article was written by

Robert Castellano profile picture
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Dr. Robert N. Castellano, is president of The Information Network www.theinformationnet.com. Most of the data, as well as tables and charts I use in my articles, come from my market research reports. If you need additional information about any article, please go to my website.

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I received a Ph.D. degree in chemistry from Oxford University (England) under Dr. John Goodenough, inventor of the lithium ion battery and 2019 Nobel Prize winner in Chemistry. I've had ten years experience in the field of wafer fabrication at AT&T Bell Laboratories and Stanford University.

I have been Editor-in-Chief of the peer-reviewed Journal of Active and Passive Electronic Devices since 2000. I authored the book "Technology Trends in VLSI Manufacturing" (Gordon and Breach), "Solar Panel Processing" (Old City Publishing), "Alternative Energy Technology" (Old City Publishing). Also in the solar area, I am CEO of SolarPA, which uses a proprietary nanomaterial to coat solar cells, increasing the efficiency by up to 10%. I recently published a fictional novel Blessed, available on Amazon and other sites.

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