The second quarter of 2020 (2Q20) ended well for the traditional PC market, comprised of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, with global shipments growing 11.2% year over year reaching a total of 72.3 million units, according to preliminary results from the International Data Corp. (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker.
As restrictions around the world tightened in the first few weeks of the quarter, demand for notebooks continued to grow to maintain continuity of business and schooling for many communities.
Despite logistics issues early in the quarter, the cost and frequency of both air and sea freight inched closer to normal (that is pre-COVID levels). This, combined with PC production ramping up (and in some cases surpassing previous levels), meant that retailers and other distributors around the world had ample supply and were ready to fulfill the surge in demand.
“The strong demand driven by work-from-home as well as e-learning needs has surpassed previous expectations and has once again put the PC at the center of consumers’ tech portfolio,” said Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “What remains to be seen is if this demand and high level of usage continue during a recession and into the post-COVID world since budgets are shrinking while schools and workplaces reopen.”
“Early indicators suggest strong PC shipments for education, enterprise, and consumer, muted somewhat by frozen SMBs,” said Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices and Displays at IDC. “With inventory still back-ordered, this goodwill will continue into July. However, as we head deeper into a global recession, the goodwill sentiment will increasingly sour.”
In the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) (APeJ), traditional PC shipments came in above IDC’s expectations with the market registering slight growth compared with the same quarter a year ago. Following a weak first quarter of the year, which saw the industry impacted by factories closures in China and supply shortages, Q2 shipments saw a significant improvement, driven by inventory replenishment and strong sales of notebook PCs, fueled by increased demand due to work from home and e-learning.
In Japan, the market declined in 2Q20 but achieved much better results than forecast in both consumer and commercial segments. The commercial segment was driven by work-from-home demand for notebook PCs and residual opportunities for Windows 10 migration while the consumer segment grew to address working and learning from home.
In the United States, the traditional PC shipments posted double-digit growth in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period a year ago. While the first quarter was record-breaking for the lowest PC shipments seen in over a decade, the second quarter was record-breaking for the opposite reason. With volumes expected to surpass 21 million units, the US has not seen such volume since the end of 2009. Inventory replenishment and record demand from stay-at-home orders can be attributed what is expected to be another record-breaking quarter.