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After a stellar period, PC monitor sales reaching inflexion point

IDC has warned the industry to expect sales to start to dip from the end of this year as pandemic-fuelled buying patterns change

The demand for desktop monitors has almost hit its peak, fuelled by high sales of the products during the pandemic, but there are reasons for those selling the hardware to be positive.

Even with IDC forecasting sale declines through the next couple of years, the impact of Covid and the shift to home working and studying has meant that there is a larger installed base for monitors. This should translate into more of a target for the industry to go after when refresh cycles kick in and customers look to upgrade existing models.

According to IDC, PC monitor worldwide shipments were just over 35 million units in the second calendar quarter of 2021, which represented a 11.2% improvement over the same period a year earlier.

The second quarter featured many of the market conditions that have been around in the past few months with supply constraints, particularly around panels, transport cost rises and order backlogs.

That might have contributed to the consumer market taking more of the share of sales, with the commercial space still largely focused on buying PCs themselves to facilitate hybrid working models.

“The second quarter capped five consecutive quarters of positive year-on-year [YoY] growth, four quarters of which were growth in the double digits. Such momentum has never been seen in the history of our monitor coverage,” said Jay Chou, research manager for IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly PC Monitor Tracker.

But he warned that those sort of sales were not going to last forever and that the industry needed to prepare itself for a changing narrative.

“We believe the market will soon reach an inflection point. Demand will begin to cool in the latter half of 2021, with small declines in 2022 to 2024. Nonetheless, long-term assumptions have already shifted for the better compared to pre-Covid times as location-agnostic modes of work/study become more popular, thus enlarging the installed base,” he added.

In terms of vendors, Dell sat at the top of the shipments pile, with a 21.5% market share, followed by Lenovo (11.9%), TPV (10.6%) and HP (10.1%).

IDC is expecting the component prices to settle down in the next few months, and shipments should peak at 147 million units, which would be the highest since 2012.

There are fears that some of the shortages and increased shipping prices could lead to price hikes and undermine growth in the PC and accessories market.

Sohjin Baek, GfK’s expert for the global IT hardware industry, expressed a similar view recently when the firm updated its analysis of the global retail IT market.

“As the pandemic situation was becoming long-term, we observed a strong demand for IT products in the first six months of 2021. This trend since the onset of the pandemic last year is expected to continue throughout the second half of the year,” said Baek.

“However, with raw material prices increasing, as well as component shortages, the price level of PCs and PC accessories has also grown strongly and could become a hurdle to further growth, especially in regions with lower purchasing power.”

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