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Third quarter was a stonker for laptops

Evidence of a resurgence in the hardware market continues with the latest quarterly analysis from Context

It is turning out to be quite a year for those selling laptops, with the coronavirus pandemic driving a surge in demand for the products.

Home working and learning has led to many users opting to invest in laptops and for many enterprises to upgrade their fleets to help staff cope with the demands of video collaboration.

At the recent Canalys Channels Forum (CCF), the view was that this will be the most profitable year in the PC world and more evidence of the market’s momentum has come from fellow analyst Context.

An analysis of sales of notebooks through Western European distributors has shown a 40% year-on-year increase in the third quarter.

Sales to corporate resellers and those focusing on the SME market were up by 35%, with commercial, public sector and educational buyers all keeping the spending going.

When it came to comparing countries, the UK delivered a respectable 46% growth in Q3. Italy led the way with 85%, then Spain with 52% , while Germany and France both saw 41% growth.

“The high level of demand for mobile devices has led to a significant reduction in notebook stock across most Western European countries – particularly in the entry-level segment, which caters for the budget-conscious education, public administration and home-learning sectors,” said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context.

“While demand for notebooks is expected to stay healthy for the remainder of 2020 and growth rates should be strong, the year-on-year performances in individual segments could be impacted by low product availability.”

The picture for desktop PCs was not so good, with volume sales down by 22% year on year. The continuing trend towards home working has not helped that form factor.

Speaking at CCF earlier this month, Gianfranco Lanci, corporate president and chief operating officer at Lenovo, said its channel had seen growth in recent months.

“The pandemic has created a huge shift in how people are working, learning, socialising and consuming products,” he said. “It does accelerate the remote working revolution and it does lead to big demands in computing and technology. Over the past several months, we’ve seen a resurgence in PC sales. Talk of the PC dying and being taken over by tablets and smartphones is over.”

Lanci added: “I believe we are on track for a nearly 300 million total PC market in 2021. That’s about 20-30 million of additional growth, and this number is significant as we haven’t seen growth like this in over 10 years. The PC-installed base is growing, and the refresh will be a lot quicker.”

He said Lenovo had seen a 40% increase in growth into the small and medium-sized enterprise market this year, and its datacentre business had achieved a 10% improvement in the first half.

“I believe we will continue to see demand beyond 12-18 months as people continue to work from home,” he added.

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