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Context: PC market showing signs of recovery

After a tough year, there are indications that 2024 is going to go better for those selling hardware

Those hoping for a recovery in the PC market will be scrutinising the latest analysis from Context.

The firm said 2023 ended with the demand for hardware rising, and has previously highlighted the reasons for customer upgrades, including adopting the latest version of Windows and embracing artificial intelligence (AI)-capable devices.

Context’s analysis of the first couple of months of the year has shown that optimism was not misplaced.

“For the first quarter of this year, our market insights predict a year-on-year performance in unit sales of mobile computing devices between −2.5% and 7.1%,” said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at Context. “The first half of the year is expected to see improvements, driven largely by low base lines, but also by local pockets of growth and a much-improved inventory situation.”

The expectation is that interest rate cuts in economies including the UK should help drive an improving second half of the year.

“This could spur demand, addressing previously delayed purchases,” added Pygott. “The commercial market is poised for new momentum with the inevitability of refresh cycles, expiring warranties and the transition to Windows 11. The introduction of new technologies, including AI-based PCs, is anticipated to make waves towards the end of the year.”

There has been progress in Q1, fuelled by some public sector and education spending, with some Western European countries showing pockets of growth.

Year-on-year growth

Context’s Q1 2024 predictions for desktop computers indicate a growth range between –8.9% and 0.6% compared with a tough 2023. Although there has been an ongoing shift to mobile computing, those figures indicate there should be a slight year-on-year growth.

Any positive growth would be a reverse in the trend of last year, which according to Gartner was the worst in PC history, declining 14.8%. It also marked the second year in a row of double-digit decline.

PC suppliers are readying launches of AI-capable PCs to encourage some fresh spending, but at the same time, there is an increasing focus on making it easier for the channel to sell refurbished kit.

Given the pressure on sustainability targets, there have been calls for the industry to embrace the second life market. There is evidence that has started, with Lenovo providing an example last week, with the launch of its Certified Refurbished offering.

Accredited partners will be offering the refurbished products in the UK, France, Germany and Denmark.

“Environmental sustainability is a leading concern for businesses of every size, in every sector,” said Claudia Contreras, executive director of global sustainability services for Lenovo.

“Lenovo Certified Refurbished extends the lifecycle of our technology to improve ROI and help reduce waste, offering a solution that provides customers a purchase option to help support a more sustainable future,” she said. “Certified Refurbished will help reduce e-waste, give devices new life and positively contribute to the circular economy.”

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