Sustained demand for PCs continues, at least for another 12 months

Digitisation and the return to work, albeit in a hybrid fashion, are driving demand for PCs – but supply is plagued by component shortages

Latest quarterly PC sales figures from Canalys show continued growth in demand for PCs. The analyst firm reported that Western European PC shipments of desktops, notebooks and workstations reached 16.1 million units, up 48% year on year. HP, with a 26% market share, shipped the most PCs during the quarter, just ahead of Lenovo, which had a 25% share.

But according to Canalys, component supply shortages are still impacting PC shipments, although the situation has improved. 

Discussing how manufacturers responded to the component shortages, Canalys research analyst Trang Pham said: “In Q1, several PC distributors and resellers reported strong supply of HP devices, especially for AMD models. And in cases where shipment delays were inevitable, HP managed its channel well, being transparent about shipment timings and giving assurances to customers, which discouraged them from seeking alternatives.

“Lenovo also had an exceptional quarter, with particular success in Chromebook sales as Google continues to spend big to push its platform with enterprise customers. Its new manufacturing facility in Hungary will also speed up order fulfilment in Europe.”

In terms of market share for the quarter, Dell came in at number three with 14% and Apple was number four with 10%. Both Apple and Acer saw phenomenal growth in the quarter, according to Canalys. Pham attributed Apple’s success to its new family of PCs, which use its new M1 processor, based on technology from ARM, replacing Intel-powered Apple devices. 

“Apple’s recent move to design its own processors shows its ambition,” she said. “It also reflects Intel’s lagging SoC process with 5nm and 3nm chips. By working with TSMC directly, Apple has been able to bring 5nm to Mac much sooner. But the move is about more than specifications. It shows absolute commitment to Apple’s ethos, that hardware, software and services work best when created together.”

However, the introduction of the M1 chip has the potential to cause headaches in IT departments that are used to managing Intel-powered devices. Pham said enterprise IT managers may look at M1-based Macs as a complex addition to their estate, adding: “Apple must now ensure clear communication about the ease of device management.”

The analyst firm expects demand for PCs to continue as the economy opens up. Canalys research manager Ben Stanton said: “Digital transformation has accelerated, apps and workloads are increasingly cloud-based, and employees will now expect remote and hybrid working options. It is extremely unlikely that PC supply will match this sustained demand surge over the next 12 months. If a vendor can supply, the product will fly.”

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