Commercial market continues to drive PC growth

Market analysis from Canalys and IDC shows business customers are continuing to spend, with desktops enjoying a decent quarter

Those worrying that the momentum the pandemic breathed into the PC market might start to run out of steam will take heart from the latest analysis of the market from Canalys.

The analyst house has found that the global PC market remained strong in the second quarter with a 13% rise in sales of desktops, laptops and workstations.

Notebook and mobile workstation shipments increased by 15% year on year, reaching 66.7 million units, with desktop and desktop workstation volumes improving by 6% at 15.6 million units.

The dynamics in the market are changing slightly, with some of customers’ urgency to get hold of laptops during the pandemic starting to decrease. As a result, the backlogs caused by component shortage problems have eased slightly.

But those shortages are set to be a feature of the year, with most manufacturers accepting that things will be slow to improve.

In the meantime, most of the manufacturers are focusing on ensuring they have the best supplies available and supporting distribution with stocks. The top five – Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple and Acer – all saw growth in Q2, although HP was the weakest, with a 2.8% annual rise.

“The PC market could not be in a better position,” said Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi. “The slowdown in consumer demand, stemming from fulfilment of backlogs and greater market penetration, has been nicely balanced by growing commercial demand as markets around the world limp back to normality.

“PC vendors now have two key business opportunities – first-time PC users and upgraders. With the installed base having blown up massively in the past year, upgrade opportunities will provide a strong long-term sales pipeline.

“Let’s not forget, some of the most exciting platform innovation is happening now. Apple with ARM and macOS updates, Microsoft with Windows 11 and Google with Chrome OS are poised to make PCs their next battlefield, which can only benefit vendors and their supply chain partners.”

IDC has also charted a similar, 13.2%, rise in global PC sales, with the analyst house noting that the easing of coronavirus restrictions meant the commercial market would continue to be in the driving seat when it came to hardware spending.

“The market faces mixed signals as far as demand is concerned,” said Neha Mahajan, senior research analyst with IDC’s Devices and Displays Group. “With businesses opening back up, demand potential in the commercial segment appears promising. However, there are also early indicators of consumer demand slowing down as people shift spending priorities after nearly a year of aggressive PC buying.”

It was always going to be hard comparing this year with Q2 2020, when lockdowns were in full force and customers were scrambling to get hold of kit, leading to a 55.9% growth rate.

IDC also noted that the health of the PC world had driven vendor investments and there had been some moves by players outside the top five to fuel innovation by introducing interesting features and niche designs.

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