PC market grows but shortages remain a hinderance

Canalys analysis of third-quarter performance in the global PC market shows the dial kept moving, but things could have been better

Despite component shortages and some ongoing impact from the pandemic, the global PC market delivered growth in the third quarter.

Market analysis from Canalys indicated that over the course of the past three months, shipments of desktops, notebooks and workstations hit 84.1m units, translating to 5% growth. Had there not been shortages, the likelihood is that that figure would have been higher.

The analyst house held its Channel Forums EMEA event last week, with shortages being one of the major themes touched on by HP, Lenovo and Dell among others, with the consensus being that problems will be a feature of the market going into 2022.

“Disruption to the global supply chain and logistics network remains the key inhibitor of higher growth in the PC market,” said Ishan Dutt, senior analyst at Canalys.

“More than a year on from the onset of the pandemic, manufacturing continues to be hindered by lockdowns and other Covid-19 related restrictions, particularly in Asia,” he said. “This has been compounded by a huge slowdown in global transportation, with freight prices and delay times skyrocketing as a number of industries compete to meet unfulfilled demand.

“The shortfall in supply of PCs is expected to last well into 2022, with the holiday season of this year set to see a significant portion of orders not met.

“Vendors able to manage this period of operational upheaval by diversifying production and distribution, and having better visibility of orders to prioritise device allocation, will be equipped to ride out the storm,” said Dutt.

Volume growth

In terms of how the quarter went for vendors, everyone in the top five, except for second-placed HP suffering a 7% decline largely as a result of declining Chromebook orders in the US, saw post-shipment volume growth, with Lenovo still holding onto top position.

Dell, which held third position, saw the largest growth, with 26.7% and more than 15 million units shipped, and a market share gain of over 3% from the same time last year.

At the Channel Forum, there was a noticeable lack of noise around Windows 11, with shortages and potential price rises dampening the usual excitement that surrounds a major Microsoft OS launch.

Dutt also talked to MicroScope last week about the potential impact the launch of Windows 11 might have on the market, with it being more of an expected contributor to commercial PC sales in 2022.

“We aren’t expecting it to have a huge impact on PC shipments in the short-term, particularly as the main driver of demand in the market has switched back to the commercial segment, following the huge spike in consumer demand that occurred during the height of the pandemic and into Q1 of this year,” said Dutt.

“Windows 11 doesn’t offer any vital features or updates for business users, and accelerating the switch of the Windows 10 installed base onto 11 will not be an easy task,” he added.

“This is especially true when we think about shipments of new devices running Windows 11, given that so many users and businesses have already laid out money on a PC over the past 18 months, or are still awaiting backlogged orders.”

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