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智能手机供应商被迫转向多元化

时间:2016-12-15 12:38 点击:

When the Apple tree is shaken, the effect is felt in the lower branches — the myriad companies supplying the hundreds of parts that go into a smartphone.

当苹果公司(Apple)这棵大树颤动时,下面的枝条——为智能手机提供数以百计部件的众多公司——都会受到波及。

The tree has taken some shaking this year. Of the two companies that dominate the smartphone sector, Apple last quarter reported the first annual decline in iPhone sales volumes. Samsung has been burnt by the furore around the exploding Galaxy Note 7.

今年,这棵大树出现了些许颤动。作为在智能手机领域占主导地位的两家公司,苹果上一季度报告iPhone年度销量首次出现下滑,而三星(Samsung)还在承受Galaxy Note 7爆炸所引发激愤的煎熬。

More broadly, Gartner, the consultancy, forecasts smartphone sales to rise just 7 per cent this year, half the rate of 2015, adding to worries that the vast industry formed about the production of smartphones will soon be starved of growth.

更广泛来看,咨询公司高德纳(Gartner)预测今年智能手机销量将只增长7%,仅为2015年增速的一半,加重了对于围绕智能手机生产形成的庞大产业很快将难觅增长的担忧。

“With sales of 1.5bn a year, smartphones are a monster market,” says Steven Pelayo, tech analyst at HSBC, who points to the relatively smaller PC and tablet markets. “It’s been a supercycle that has cannibalised everything. But what’s the next big driver?”

“一年销量达15亿部,智能手机是一个巨大市场,”汇丰(HSBC)科技分析师史蒂文.佩拉约(Steven Pelayo)说,他以相对较小的个人电脑和平板电脑市场为对比。“这是一个消化了一切的超级周期。但下一股巨大推力是什么?”

That question is ricocheting around the boardrooms and factory floors across Japan, Taiwan, South Korea and China. Apple alone relies on more than 200 suppliers for its products, the vast majority based in Asia.

这一问题正在日本、台湾、韩国及中国大陆的董事会会议室、工厂车间内回荡。仅苹果一家的产品就依赖超过200家供应商,其中绝大多数位于亚洲。

As chief executive of Japan Display, which generates 85 per cent of its revenues from smartphone makers and half from Apple, Mitsuru Homma knows the quandary only too well.

日本显示器公司(Japan Display, JDI)首席执行官本间充(Mitsuru Homma)最清楚这一窘境,该公司85%的收入都来自智能手机制造商,一半的收入来自苹果。

“If we stay with smartphones, then five to 10 years later JDI will probably no longer exist,” he says. “I feel very much the sense of crisis.”

“如果我们继续守着智能手机,那5到10年后,JDI很可能将不复存在,”本间充说,“我有很强的危机感。”

Even the Japanese government, JDI’s main shareholder, is in agreement, he adds. The display maker is looking to diversify into supplying the devices linked to the internet of things and artificial intelligence.

甚至作为JDI主要股东的日本政府也持相同看法,他补充说。这家显示屏制造商正寻求将业务扩展至供应与物联网和人工智能相关的设备。

Mr Homma sees opportunities in self-driving cars, which will require interactive screens and maybe entire smart dashboards as well as medical monitors where the highest resolution can be, literally, a matter of life or death, and virtual reality.

本间充在自动驾驶汽车、医用显示器以及虚拟现实领域发现了机遇。自动驾驶汽车需要交互式屏幕或者一整块智能仪表盘,医用显示器的最高分辨率实际上可能事关生死。

Cars also feature in Sony’s plans, along with the internet of things. The Japanese consumer electronics group staked its fortunes on image sensors and now boasts a 40 per cent market share by value. “Image sensors are input devices, so we believe there are new markets out there,” says Tsutomu Haruta, general manager.

在索尼(Sony)的规划中,汽车与物联网也占重要地位。这家日本消费电子集团将命运押在影像传感器上,如今自称按价值算占有这一市场40%的份额。总经理春田勉(Tsutomu Haruta)表示:“影像传感器属于输入设备,因此我们相信这里存在新的市场。”

Sony’s advantages, according to Shoichi Kitayama, general manager, are that its sensors can see bikes and people in the dark and pictures remain sharp even in high temperatures. Come 2025, he says, the average car will have two or three image sensors. At the top end that will stretch to 10.

索尼汽车团队负责人北山尚一(Shoichi Kitayama)认为,索尼的优势在于,其传感器能在黑暗中看到自行车和行人,且图像即便在高温环境中也能保持锐利。他说,到2025年,每辆汽车平均将配备两或三个影像传感器,最多的将配备10个。

“The economies of scale will be comparable to smartphones and will come close in terms of wafers used,” he says.

“其规模经济将可以与智能手机媲美,以所用的晶片衡量将接近后者,”他说。

But he concedes those markets are new and untested — and for now are going to be smaller than the smartphone bounty.

但他承认,这些新的市场还未经检验,目前看来要比智能手机市场小。

Quite substantially smaller on Mr Pelayo’s reckoning. The semiconductor content per car is forecast to double from $350 to $700 by 2020 — equivalent to adding more than two iPhones, with about $150 in chip content apiece, in the average car over the next four years, or roughly one-half of an iPhone every year.

根据佩拉约的估算是要小得多。到2020年,每辆汽车搭载的半导体的价值预计将从350美元翻倍至700美元——相当于未来四年平均每辆汽车增加两部iPhone多一点(每部iPhone的芯片部分价值约150美元),或者每年增加半部iPhone。

With about 80m cars shipped a year, this would equate to about 40m more iPhones “or less than two weeks of smartphone production”.

汽车每年的销量约有8000万辆,因此这相当于增加约4000万部iPhone,“或者不到两周的智能手机产量”。

The numbers pan out similarly miserably for other applications: the 2m virtual reality headsets expected to be sold this year; the 12m annual servers sold or even the 20m Apple watches.

其他方面应用的数字也同样惨淡:今年虚拟现实头盔的预计销量为200万套,服务器销量为1200万台,就连苹果手表的销量也只有2000万块。

Some are undeterred by the punier numbers, pointing out that smartphones are still in the picture for now, albeit growing slower and with an evolving modus operandi.

一些人并未被智能手机弱于从前的业绩数字吓倒,他们指出目前智能手机仍不容忽视,尽管增速放缓,且运作方式发生变化。

“You’ve got to look at what the smartphone brands are doing,” says Cherry Ma, tech analyst at CLSA. She spots two trends that will drive growth in certain areas: smartphone makers upgrading cameras, sound and aesthetics in an attempt to win share; and a consumer swing towards Chinese handset manufacturers.

里昂证券(CLSA)科技分析师Cherry Ma说:“你必须看看智能手机品牌在做什么。”她指出两大趋势将推动一些领域的增长:智能手机制造商升级摄像头、音效及外观,以图赢得市场份额;消费者转向中国手机制造商。

This year will see as many as 20 handsets featuring dual cameras offering better image quality, up from just one device last year. While global handset sales have grown 1-2 per cent this year, Chinese brands combined are growing at 20 per cent, she says.

今年将有多达20款手机配备影像质量更佳的双摄像头,而去年仅有一款。虽然今年全球手机销量仅增长1%至2%,但中国品牌手机总销量正在以20%的速度增长,她说。

“Even though the smartphone market is getting saturated, there is growth in dual camera phones so there are more image sensors in each phone,” says Sony’s Mr Haruta. He adds that while the number of smartphone players has been winnowed down, the top players are focused on cameras.

索尼的春田勉表示:“虽然智能手机市场正日益饱和,但双摄像头手机还在增长,因此每部手机都会有更多的影像传感器。”虽然很多智能手机制造商已被淘汰,但顶级厂商仍专注摄像头,他补充说。

“Requests have changed, even among the Chinese smartphone manufacturers. They all want special cameras,” he says. “Even among the cheaper makers, they are also looking to expand into high-end and are at the stage where they want to add more value.”

“要求已经改变,即便中国智能手机制造商也是。他们都想要特别的摄像头,”他说,“即使是生产较廉价手机的制造商,也在寻求进入高端产品,希望增加更多的价值。”

That trend, which has been detrimental to Apple’s sales in China in particular, is helping buoy some of the top suppliers: not just those with brand names such as Sony, but also the companies investing in research and development to gain market share in niche or proprietary hardware.

这一趋势对苹果的在华销售尤其不利,但正帮助支撑一些顶级供应商:不仅包括索尼等大品牌,还包括投资研发以图在利基或专利硬件领域获得市场份额的公司。

Ms Ma points to Sunny Optical, which is ramping up quantity and quality of its camera modules; while the desire for better sound plays to AAC Technologies, the Hong Kong-listed Apple supplier that is beefing up capital expenditure.

Cheery Ma提到了舜宇光学科技(Sunny Optical)和瑞声科技(AAC Technologies)。前者不断提升其摄像模块的数量和质量,后者则受益于人们对更好音效的追求,这家香港上市的苹果供应商正在扩大资本支出。

Higher resolution and sound quality, added to more complicated specifications, means higher average prices for suppliers as well as boosting quantity, says Ms Ma. “With acoustics, there is no one standard design. Vendors have to come up with their own design, so have to spend a lot on R&D,” she says.

Cheery Ma表示,更复杂的技术参数、更高的分辨率和更完美的音质,对供应商而言意味着更高的平均价格,还可以增加销量。“在音响效果方面,没有统一的标准设计。供应商必须拿出自己的设计,因此不得不在研发上花很多钱,”她说。

That — like the brave new world of self-driving cars and self-filling washing machines — may help but a gap remains. Tech analysts have identified a plateau in smartphone design outside more incremental updates in advanced imaging, which means that many people are now happy to keep hold of the smartphones already in their pockets for longer.

这——就像无人驾驶汽车和自动添衣洗衣机的美丽新世界——或许会有所帮助,但差距依然存在。技术分析师发现,除了在高级成像方面逐步升级之外,智能手机设计陷入停滞,这意味着如今许多人乐于更长时间保留已在他们口袋里的智能手机。

At least until they are given a new, good reason to upgrade. Suppliers to the once-unstoppable smartphone makers will need to tighten their belts as they wait for the next wave of popular consumer innovation.

至少留到他们有一个充分的新理由进行升级。一度势不可挡的智能手机制造商的供应商将需要勒紧腰带,等待下一波大众消费创新到来。

“Over time, we suspect supply chain growth will be driven by an ever broader array of products, but no individual segment will probably catch the smartphone market any time soon,” says Mr Pelayo.

佩拉约说:“我们预测,随着时间推移,供应链增长将受到更广种类产品的驱动,但可能没有任何一个领域能很快追上智能手机市场。”

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