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April 14, 2020

COVID-19 Rocks PC Shipments, But Silver Linings Abound

'Causing enterprises to shift their IT budgets away from PCs and toward strategic business continuity planning.'

By CBR Staff Writer

The COVID-19 pandemic has knocked PC shipments and sales growth into a tailspin that has caused the most severe decline since 2013.

According to Gartner’s Worldwide PC market research out today, shipments of PCs have dropped by 12.3 percent in the first quarter of 2019, following a period of strong growth over three consecutive quarters.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has caused a slump in PC sales not seen since the global economic crisis in 2012, which saw many buyers tighten IT budgets to weather the economic hardship.

Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner commented: “The single most significant influencing factor for PC shipment decline was the coronavirus outbreak, which resulted in disruptions to both the supply and demand of PCs.”

“Once coronavirus-related lockdowns expanded to other regions, there were new, sudden pockets of PC demand for remote workers and online classrooms that PC manufacturers could not keep up with.”

PC shipments

Credit: Gartner

Vendor Market Share

While all vendors have experienced a slump in sales entering into 2020, the decline did not affect the market share of the top three PC shipment vendors; Lenovo (24 percent), HP (21 percent) and Dell (19 percent).

Out of the three, HP appears to have been hit the hardest by the crisis as its shipments saw a 12 percent decline in the first quarter of 2020, dropping from 13,026 units to 12,613. Dell saw a small rise in shipments of 2.2 percent from 9,944 to 10,158 units.

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Kitagawa commented that: “This quarter’s vendor results underscore the growing economic uncertainties that are tightening PC spending, especially among small and midsize businesses. This uncertainty, coupled with the end of the Windows 10 upgrade peak, is causing enterprises to shift their IT budgets away from PCs and toward strategic business continuity planning. We will start seeing enterprises and consumers alike extending their PC life cycles on a more permanent basis as they focus on preserving cash.”

Apple has a market share of 6.9 percent with 3,555 shipped units, but saw growth fall by 6.4 percent in the first quarter of 2020.

However, Gartner’s research is based on a preliminary study that does not include the sale of the company’s Chromebooks or iPads.

In what may be a warning for future market conditions, the worst decline in PC shipment occurred in the Asia Pacific region, which saw a year-over-year decline of 27 percent. China — the epicentre of the outbreak — saw its overall PC shipments drop by 30 percent compared to the same period in 2019. Desktop PCs account for 40 percent of lost sales as government and educational organisations shutdown across the region.

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