Mobile computing prospects looking solid

Research from Context and Canalys should provide some cheer for those in the channel that handle mobile computing hardware

Life should soon start to improve for distributors of mobile computing devices, with supply issues expected to ease in the second half of the year.

Market watchers at Context have been peering into the crystal ball and have come up with a couple of scenarios that factor in component supply constraints and the impact of cost-of-living challenges.

In terms of supply, analysts expect continued improvement as the industry moves deeper into the second half of 2022.

“Some products that have been in transit for many months are outdated by the time they arrive. Russia’s war in Ukraine and additional Covid lockdowns in Asia have added to supply chain headaches and costs,” said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context.

“However, there are some positives. Windows 11 migration will drive more PC sales in the second half of the year, as may an increased appetite for more sustainable and secure products,” she added.

The “glass half full” scenario drawn up by Context has supply improving but gains offset by the impact of inflation on demand and a gap between the products available and those in demand by customers. In that situation, the mobile segment would produce low positive growth by the fourth quarter, while desktops would improve, but not manage to break through to positive growth this year.

The other, more positive, scenario outlined by Context would witness improvements in supply and demand, price drops and excess stocks selling out. Economic factors would not destabilise mobile computing growth, which would see unit sales possibly going from -7.1% in the second quarter of 2022 to 10.9% in the third quarter, before stabilising in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile, second-quarter figures from Canalys indicated that the global PC market, which includes tablet shipments, fell 3% annually in the first quarter of 2022 to 118.1 million units. That dip was good when compared with pre-pandemic numbers, and shipments are still in a good position, with a three-year compound annual growth rate of 12% from the first quarter of 2019.

Commercial demand has remained solid, but there has been a slowdown in the education space and the consumer side remained weaker.

On the tablet front, Canalys analyst Himani Mukka said the latest numbers showed that mobile products were holding up.

“The market has now posted eight consecutive quarters of shipment numbers greater than in the fourth quarter of 2019, before the pandemic,” she said. “Increasing commercial deployments are now helping to offset the softening of consumer demand that has followed the large build-up of the tablet installed base over the past two years.”

When it came to Chromebooks, a drop in educational spending hit shipments, but again the noises from the analyst group remained positive.

“The global Chromebook market has undergone an expected slowdown,” said Brian Lynch, Canalys research analyst. “The saturation of the Japanese and US education markets, and a slowdown in consumer spending following the Covid-19 demand spike, have brought inevitable declines in shipments. Nevertheless, Chromebooks still had an impressive first quarter when viewed in the wider context of historical performance, and growth is set to return as developed markets undergo refresh cycles in coming years.”

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