The increase in the number of employees working from home due to government-sanctioned lockdowns should have helped spike PC shipments. However, recent figures from market research firm International Data Corp. (IDC) show otherwise recording a decline of 9.8% year over year in the first quarter of 2020 (1Q20), reaching a total of 53.2 million shipments.
The reduced supply of PCs such as desktops, notebooks, and workstations is caused by the COVID-19 outbreak in China, where the virus originated, according to IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker.
While production capacity in January was pretty much on par with past years, the extended closure of factories in February and the slow resumption of manufacturing along with difficulties in logistics and labor toward the end of the quarter led to a reduction of supply.
However, demand rose during the quarter as many employees needed to upgrade their PCs to work from home and consumers sought gaming PCs to keep themselves entertained.
“Though the supply of new PCs was somewhat limited during the quarter, a few vendors and retailers were able to keep up with the additional demand as the threat of increased tariffs last year led to some inventory stockpiling at the end of 2019,” said Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “However, this bump in demand may be short-lived as many fear the worst is yet to come and this could lead to both consumers and businesses tightening spending in the coming months.”
“IDC believes there will be longstanding positive consequences once the dust settles,” said Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices and Displays at IDC. “Businesses that once primarily kept their users on campus will have to invest in remote infrastructure, at the very least, for continuity purposes. Consumers stuck at home have had to come to terms with how important it is to keep tech up to date. This should provide a steady, long-range tailwind for PC and monitor markets, among other categories.”
Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ): Traditional PC shipments posted a double-digit decline in 1Q20. The closure of factories in China due to the COVID-19 outbreak resulted in a supply-side disruption throughout the region, while demand was impacted severely in China due to the suspension of business activities in the most affected provinces. As the pandemic spread throughout the world, most of the Asia/Pacific countries progressed into a partial or full closure by the second half of March, with non-essential activities suspended and business operations halted. Even though there was a short-term spike in demand for PCs due to work from home and e-learning, IDC expects a significant negative impact on demand, extending several months or even quarters.