Wednesday, 02 December 2020 23:06

US $31.4b global PC sales revenue plunge due to COVID-19, industry to take 3 years to recover


Italian financial analyst site Finaria has pointed the finger at the COVID-19 outbreak triggering "the most significant fall in PC shipments since 2013, as pandemic affected supply chains and forced consumers to prioritise their spending".

In Australia, during the height of the pandemic, stores like Officeworks, JB HiFi, Harvey Norman and others were stripped of a great deal of computer equipment, monitors, iPads and more, as people raced to make sure their kids could study from home properly, and the adults had the right gear needed to work from home properly.

However, with the high number of tech sales, it became difficult to buy anything for several months, depending on where you were, as logistics suffered from 90% of the planes no longer flying, and boats filled to the brim with goods and in queues at ports globally as they tried to unload stock and get it to retail shelves.

While the situation seems dramatically better today in terms of stock availability, Italian market news and analysis site Finaria and article author Jastra Kranjec have looked at global figures, with the virus still rampaging in the US, Europe and elsewhere, says that "after a sharp fall in the first quarter of 2020, global PC shipments have grown in the last eight months. However, it wasn’t enough to alleviate the revenue loss of the entire industry this year".

Finaria says "global PC sales revenue is expected to plunge by $31.4bn amid the COVID-19 outbreak, falling to $202.2bn in 2020".

Laptop Sales to Plunge by $19.4B YoY, 60% of the Entire Industry Loss in 2020

Finaria's analysts tell us that "the rise in smartphone usage and the global shift from hardware to cloud solutions had been driving a downturn in global PC sales for years. Between 2011 and 2017, PC shipments dropped by 30% to 262.7 million sold units. The 2018 shortage in Intel central processing units cut global shipments to 259.7 million, under 2007 levels.

"The entire PC industry’s revenue amounted to $231.3bn that year, revealed the Statista Technology Market Outlook. In the next twelve months, this figure modestly increased to $233.6bn. However, the coronavirus pandemic triggered the worst market contraction in years, despite the rising demand for PCs and laptops due to remote working and distance learning".

The analysis continues: "Statistics show the laptop segment is expected to witness the biggest sales drop amid the COVID-19 crisis, with revenues falling to $116.3bn by the end of 2020, a 14.3% decrease year-over-year.

"The sales in the desktop PC segment is forecast to plunge by 13.4% YoY to $50.2bn. Global tablet sales are expected to generate $35.6bn in revenue in 2020, 10.7% less than a year ago.

"Statista data also indicate it will take three years for the PC industry to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, revenues are projected to grow by 8.5% YoY to $219.5bn, $14bn below 2019 levels. By the end of 2023, global PC sales revenues are expected to rise to $235.2bn."

US PC Industry to Lose Almost $10B in Revenue

Finaria explains that "statistics show the COVID-19 outbreak caused a huge financial hit to even the largest companies and markets in the PC industry. The revenues of the United States PC industry, as the largest globally, are forecast to drop by 17.2% YoY to $46.5bn in 2020.

"The PC sales in the Chinese market, the second-largest globally, is expected to plunge by 5.9% YoY to $34.1bn. Japan ranked as the third-largest market in the PC industry with $14.6bn in revenue in 2020, a 13.5% decrease in a year.

"Besides substantial revenue losses, the PC industry also witnessed a decrease in PC shipments this year. Statistics show that 187.8 million PCs were shipped worldwide in the nine months of 2020, a 1.6% drop YoY.

Well, after all of that Finaria analysis, you do wonder just how much of that slack will be made up with purchases of Apple Macs driven by M1 SoCs, which are, by all reports, a dramatic improvement on the Intel processors of old, along with Windows, the operating system that ransomware writers love!

Next time around, global PC shipments may still be down, by I suspect Apple's M1 system sales will be the brightest spot in the entire "PC" sales landscape. 


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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

Alex Zaharov-Reutt is iTWire's Technology Editor is one of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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