For much of last year the word on the street was that PC sales were running hot. Brands and stores reported shortages of certain models as the pandemic bit and New Zealanders were sent home to work or study online.
Now IDC Research has the numbers to back that up. The latest IDC Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker says 826,000 units shipped in 2020. That’s 12.3 percent higher than the year earlier and an all-time record in New Zealand.
The biggest demand was for notebooks. Sales were up 21.7 percent on the year earlier. Desktop PC sales were down 15.1 percent year-on-year. Commercial PC shipments were up 18.3 percent, consumer PC sales climbed 5.2 percent.
These figures are broadly in-line with worldwide trends. Global PC shipments were up 13 percent.
HP top, Acer second
Back to New Zealand where IDC says HP was in top spot with Acer in second place, thanks to strong Chromebook sales as the demand for educational computers surged. Lenovo was third. Both HP and Lenovo struggled at times to meet the extra demand. It didn’t help that global supply chains and electronics manufacturing were both disrupted in 2020.
Last year’s growth comes after eight years of steady decline.
The surge in sales is not likely to persist. Although sales in 2021 should remain above the 2019 level, the recent burst of activity may not last. IDC forecasts as 5.5 percent decline from the 2020 level for 2021. It says the commercial market will decline while consumer sales will grow.
IDC says the market is restrained by limited supply and that will put something of a brake on sales. Meanwhile many companies will be more cautious about spending if they have seen or anticipate falling revenue or profits.
Shift to mobile
There’s been a long-term shift from desktop PCs to laptops or notebook computers. This accelerated last year. One reason for this is that companies and schools have traditionally been desktop buyers, but with workers logging on from home it is easier to give them notebooks than desktops.
At the same time, space is often at a premium in homes. A notebook can be used on the kitchen table in work hours, then put aside at dinner time. Another point is that for companies who anticipate workers spending time in the office and at home, having a device that moves between the two makes sense.