FRAMINGHAM, MA – The continuation of the global Covid-19 pandemic has led to double-digit growth in the traditional PC market, comprised of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, with global shipments up 14.6% year-over-year to 81.3 million units in the third quarter, according to International Data Corp.
"Consumer demand and institutional demand approached record levels in some cases," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "Gaming, Chromebooks, and in some cases cellular-enabled notebooks were all bright spots during the quarter. Had the market not been hampered by component shortages, notebook shipments would have soared even higher during the third quarter as market appetite was yet unsatiated."
Shortages of multiple components, such as processors, panels, and other subcomponents, led to missed opportunities for many vendors, IDC says.
"The PC industry rode into the third quarter with a sizeable backlog of unfulfilled orders," said Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices and Displays at IDC. "And it appears the quarter will end under the same auspices. Given that the shortages have been due more to a shortfall of business planning than a technical glitch, we do not anticipate a sudden surge in capacity. Consequently, this backlog will likely carry into 2021."
In Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ), the traditional PC market posted a single-digit increase, with results coming in above IDC's forecast. Shipments were driven by inventory replenishments and strong demand for notebooks, as end users across the region continued to purchase devices for work-from-home, online learning, and entertainment purposes.
The traditional PC market in Canada remained active, posting the 17th consecutive quarter of gains. This is the second quarter in which Covid-19-related restrictions were in effect, continuing to boost demand from Canadian households and from organizations looking to ensure business continuity through stay-at-home situations. The need for computing devices in Canada should remain high throughout the winter, but spending might be impacted by the macroeconomic situation, increasing pressure on average selling prices for the foreseeable future.
In Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EMEA), traditional PC shipments achieved high single-digit growth in the third quarter, as another exceptional quarter of growth for notebooks outweighed heavy desktop declines. The ongoing lockdowns continued to drive high demand for notebooks to enable entertainment, working, and studying from home. However, with offices largely remaining closed, there was limited demand for stationary devices.
In Japan, the GIGA project through which students receive PCs and tablets for online learning, as well as strong work-from-home demand, helped maintain flat growth in the traditional PC market. The consumer segment declined year-over-year due to the high baseline set last year by the consumption tax hike and Windows 10 migrations.
In Latin America, the traditional PC market posted double-digit growth for first time in five years. Despite price increases and economic contractions in many countries, the demand for portability continues to rise. Higher notebook demand due to work-from-home and online learning sustained the region's growth, which is expected to continue in most countries into early 2021.
The traditional PC market in the US witnessed yet another extraordinary quarter, posting strong double-digit shipment growth. Preliminary results reflect continued strong buyer sentiment fueled by stay-at-home PC needs and resultant inventory replenishment. While notebook shipments strengthened further due to sustained demand from the consumer and education segments, the desktop market declined year-over-year but found some respite as gaming systems remained in demand.