In a surprising, yet not so surprising turn, the global PC market grew in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic in Q2, when many countries went into various degrees of lockdown.
It is precisely the closure of businesses and schools that has driven the growth of the market, spurring demand for PCs and notebooks as more people work from home and turn to home-based learning.
Both Gartner and IDC have reported encouraging growth figures though each defines the market in its own way.
According to Gartner, worldwide PC shipment was 64.8 million units in Q2, a 2.8 percent increase from the same quarter last year. Its data covers desktop PCs, notebook PCs and ultramobile premiums, but not Chromebooks or iPads.
“After the PC supply chain was severely disrupted in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the growth this quarter was due to distributors and retail channels restocking their supplies back to near-normal levels. Additionally, mobile PC growth was particularly strong, driven by several factors including business continuity for remote working, online education and consumers’ entertainment needs,” said said Mikako Kitagawa, Research Director of Gartner.
IDC’s numbers were more impressive — 11.2 percent increase with 72.3 million units of desktops, notebooks and workstations shipped in Q2.
“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 centre of consumers’ tech portfolio. What remains to be seen is if this demand and high level of usage continues during a recession and into the post-COVID world since budgets are shrinking while schools and workplaces reopen,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Research Manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers.
Amid this sliver of sunshine, both research firms set a pessimistic note for the coming quarters.
“Early indicators suggest strong PC shipments for education, enterprise, and consumer, muted somewhat by frozen SMBs. 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,” said Linn Huang, Research Vice President of Devices and Displays at IDC.
Gartner’s Kitagawa cautioned that this uptick in mobile PC demand will not continue beyond 2020, as shipments were mainly boosted by short-term business needs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.