COVID-19 results in sharpest PC shipments decline in Q1 since 2013

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The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted several industries in only a couple of months, and the latest to be effected is PCs, with research firm Gartner, releasing its PC shipments report for Q1 of 2020.

It makes for some pretty grim reading, especially as it saw the sharpest decline for Q1 since 2013. Added to this is that the market had previously seen three consecutive quarters of growth, despite increasing tensions between the United States and China.

Diving deeper into the numbers, Gartner notes that total PC shipments for the quarter amounted to 51.6 million units, with it resulting in a decline of 12.3 percent.

“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,” says Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner.

“Following the first lockdown in China in late January, there was lower PC production volume in February that turned into logistics challenges,” she adds.

COVID-19 has had an influence on the market in other ways too, with more countries imposing lockdowns and resulting in an increase in people working remotely. This put a demand on PCs in order to facilitate working from home that the industry simply was not able to respond to.

Factors like these will see businesses and consumers look to keep their PCs for longer, according to Gartner.

“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 businesses to shift their IT budgets away from PCs and toward strategic business continuity planning. We will start seeing businesses and consumers alike extending their PC life cycles on a more permanent basis as they focus on preserving cash,” Kitagawa explains.

Looking at Gartner’s numbers (featured below), only Dell saw a growth of 2.2 percent year-on-year, compared to the other top vendors. Lenovo was able to retain its top spot, but was hit hard in the Asia/Pacific region, with a decline of 22.6 percent year-on-year.

A bit closer to home, the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region declined 7 percent year-on-year to 16.8 million units and will likely continue to decline through 2020, according to the research firm.

“The end of the first quarter saw a dramatic drop in both business and consumer PC purchases due to intense COVID-19 related lockdown measures across various countries in the region,” Gartner adds.

As such the outlook for the PC industry for the rest of 2020 is not good, and should more countries enter into lockdown, or a second wave of infections happen globally, the number of shipments will likely continue to decline.

It therefore remains to be seen how severely tech distributors in the country will be effected by COVID-19.

[Image – Photo by Olena Sergienko on Unsplash]

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

When he's not reviewing the latest smartphones, Robin-Leigh is writing about everything tech-related from IoT and smart cities, to 5G and cloud computing. He's also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games.