Channel sees supply issues ease in PC market

The second quarter proved to be a good time for those selling PCs, particularly those handling laptops

The fortunes of the PC market have improved in the second quarter, with the channel taking advantage of easing supply issues.

Not only were resellers able to tap into some of the pent-up demand from the first quarter, but the impact of the coronavirus also drove demand for laptops to support people working or being educated from home.

The first quarter saw a PC industry still recovering from Intel chip supply issues finding life even more difficult once the Chinese factories closed in February and remained shuttered for weeks.

An analysis of Q2 from Canalys showed that the worldwide PC market grew by 9% year on year, giving the industry a chance to bounce back from a sluggish start to 2020. That compared to an 8% decline in Q1.

“Notebooks have single-handedly pulled the PC market out of depression,” said Rushabh Doshi, research director at Canalys. “They have been crucial in ensuring that the service, government and education sectors can continue to function in the face of unprecedented disruption and uncertainty. Vendors and the channel made the necessary changes to ramp up production and delivery of notebooks to the highest level in years.”

Canalys expects demand to remain for a while as customers continue to make investments to support the “new normal”, which is expected to see rates of home working remain higher than pre-pandemic levels.

“The extraordinary demand has driven shifts in strategy across the industry,” said Doshi. “Chrome OS and AMD are making inroads into the commercial sector, while Apple MacBooks now run on ARM chips.”

The impact of the changes could have long-lasting implications in the development community, with the PC category attracting the sort of attention that other formats have dominated for the past few years.

“After years of smartphone-centred innovation, application developers, too, are turning their attention to the PC, where productivity and performance take precedence,” said Doshi.

Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) and North America drove the growth in Q2, with those regions having the infrastructure to support a shift to home working while also encouraging more businesses back to work as lockdown restrictions ease.

Meanwhile, IDC’s analysis of the second quarter found that global shipments in the PC category, which includes desktops, laptops and workstations, grew by 11.2% year on year.

The analyst house described the growth across EMEA as exceeding “already optimistic expectations, posting strong double-digit growth in 2Q20”. The firm echoed the comments from Canalys.

“The strong demand driven by work-from-home as well as e-learning needs has surpassed previous expectations and has once again put the PC at the centre of consumers’ tech portfolio,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “What remains to be seen is if this demand and high level of usage continues during a recession and into the post-Covid world, since budgets are shrinking while schools and workplaces reopen.”

Both Canalys and IDC agreed that HP was top of the pile when it came to PC vendors, followed by Lenovo and then Dell.

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