The demand for PCs is still strong and should remain so in the coming months

After posting record sales last year, the popularity of PCs does not appear to be waning. New analysis from IDC shows desktops, laptops and workstations maintained impressive growth levels in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), throughout the first quarter of 2021 .

Shipments to the EMEA region increased just over 44% from the same period last year, to nearly 24 million units, according to IDC.

This trend is in line with statistics released throughout the past year, which saw global demand for PCs reach the highest levels the market has seen in a decade. Before the 2020 boom, the PC market had seen years of decline.

The impact of teleworking and e-learning

“This crisis has revived an industry which had been in decline for several years, from 3 to 4% per year overall,” observes Arnaud Lépinois, CEO of HP France, to .

Today, nearly a million machines are manufactured per day, argues Arnaud Lépinois, on the basis of estimates made by IDC. “Globally, approximately 240 million units were manufactured in 2019, nearly 300 million in 2020 and we are on a trend of 365 million units manufactured, all manufacturers combined and all platforms combined, for 2021 », He recalls.

Arnaud Lépinois affirms that a very clear switchover has occurred “from the desktop to the laptop.” With the sudden transition to teleworking and online learning, “the fixed workstation has transferred to mobility and ‘ultra-mobility,’ he explains. As desktop computer sales continued to fall, the downward trend in PCs in general was offset by a boom in devices more suited to the flexibility of distance learning and work. In Western Europe, for example, shipments of desktop computers were down 21 percent year-on-year, while demand for laptops jumped nearly 75 percent from the previous year.

More than teleworking, the education sector has also played a central role. “A lot of people are already equipped for remote work, and the bulk of the growth is distance learning,” Simon Thomas, research analyst for IDC, told ZDN. “That’s where the big business impact comes from. “

Consumer sales jumped over 65%

Although commercial sector transactions have played a major role in boosting PC sales, consumer demand has grown even faster. In EMEA, in fact, growth in commercial PC shipments has increased by about a third year-over-year, but consumer sales have jumped over 65%.

In Western Europe, the trend is even more striking: growth in consumer sales has increased by more than 75% compared to the same period last year. This is because consumers increasingly seek entertainment during successive lockdowns – and in this scenario, often turn to desktop computers. In fact, while the demand for desktop computers has declined in the commercial segment, it has increased by more than 46% year-on-year among consumers.

According to Simon Thomas, the surge in consumer demand can also be attributed to the gradual reopening of physical stores. “In recent months, if not weeks, people have finally had the opportunity to see the devices they plan to buy,” says Simon Thomas. “At the same time, they saved money, and are now spending it on devices. This allowed consumer demand to strengthen. “

Asked by , Arnaud Lépinois indicates that “France is not exempt from the great transformations which are seen in all the countries of the world”. Based on IDC figures, all manufacturers combined, Arnaud Lépinois specifies that “the French market is just over 2 million units in the last quarter”. If this number seems high, it is difficult to draw a reliable comparison with the figures of last year, since at the start of the pandemic and the first lockdowns, production collapsed, with the closure of factories in China. , in particular, warns the director of HP France. The important figure to remember, summarizes Arnaud Lépinois, is that the observed increase is “of the order of a third compared to last year”.

Acer and ASUS see their respective market shares increase

While household names still dominate the list of major PC vendors, IDC noted that major players are slowly losing market share. HP and Lenovo almost evenly share just over half of the market, led by HP, but both companies saw their shares decline slightly, by 0.6 and 1.2 percentage points, respectively. In third place, Dell is also losing part of its market share.

On the other hand, Acer (8.5% market share) and ASUS (7.3% market share) see their position on the market increase. The “other” PC suppliers are also experiencing rapid growth, particularly in sales of laptops, where competition is intensifying against players such as Microsoft, Huawei and Samsung.

All sellers, however, will have to deal with the supply chain issues that have plagued the industry for the past few quarters. Since the second quarter of 2020, global PC shipments have faced shortages of PC parts and components linked to the pandemic, which has meant that vendors have struggled to meet explosive demand for devices. “The first shortages appeared three or four quarters ago with processors,” explains Simon Thomas, “and since then they have moved between panels, integrated circuit boards or semiconductors, and have all posed big problems. . “

“We can imagine that in the space of 24 months, the industrial capacities of an entire industry (semiconductors, screens, chassis, integrated circuits, etc.) were not ready to manufacture so many devices in such a short time. time, ”said the director of HP France. Especially since compared to PCs, other sectors such as the automobile industry, smartphones or even household appliances consume the same types of components. In short, “in this crisis we had a digital boom, but also a boom in the consumption of electronic tools in the broad sense of the term,” he comments.

No significant change before 3 to 6 months

Arnaud Lépinois explains that “this shortage severely penalizes the delivery times and the manufacturing times” of HP. In addition, there is also the thorny issue of logistics. “The availability of a rail container in China today is extremely complicated,” continues the director.

Faced with this observation, Arnaud Lépinois does not expect a significant change before “the next 3 to 6 months”. The director of HP France specifies that if “certain components are available again”, others, such as semiconductors, “are still undergoing a severe crisis”. A shortage that affects HP all the more as printer platforms are also affected, adds the director. “It also affects the availability of the major players in printing, because we have seen a boom in printing at home. “

Without the supply chain challenges, says Simon Thomas, shipments in the last quarter could have been even higher – and that means the next few months shouldn’t see a reduction in PC sales, demand. referring to the quarters to come. “Despite the huge demand right now, we still believe there will be a lot of demand until the end of 2021,” says Simon Thomas. “It’s only by looking towards 2022 that we think we’ll see more slowdown. “

As demand slowly subsides, supply chains will also be able to catch up, Simon Thomas believes, but more constraints are to be expected throughout the remainder of this year.

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