PC market posts strong Q1 despite chip shortages

Guide to Printed Circuit Board (PCB) fabrication

While 2020 was a year that most of us would like to forget. For the PC industry, however, it was one to remember. The COVID-19 pandemic and the virtual shift it caused resulted in significant demand for laptops and desktops.

Now, leading industry research firms report that demand for PCs has remained high in the first quarter of 2021. That’s significant since many believed the industry would start to experience correction after last year’s massive spike in sales.

That being said, the PC sector is currently experiencing between 32 and 55 percent growth compared to the same frame in 2020 depending on which research group’s figures you consider.

Consensus Growth

The PC industry’s hot start in 2021 isn’t just a quirk in the data. Although the numbers are slightly different, both Gartner and IDC agree that the first quarter is going well for PC manufacturers.

Of course, both firms also agree that the current rate of growth is not normal. Gartner notes that it is the fastest the industry’s growth has been since it started tracking that statistic in 2000. That’s extremely impressive considering the fact that the early 2000s were one of the biggest periods of PC adoption in history.

Meanwhile, the IDC found that the drop in PC shipments between the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of this one is the smallest since 2012. In other words, consumers didn’t stop buying new devices after the holiday shopping season ended. They are continuing to upgrade and purchase new PCs to start the year.

Although there is no way to attribute the industry’s hot start to one specific factor, the COVID-19 pandemic certainly continues to have an impact. Eventually, things will start returning to normal, and demand for PCs caused by reliance on virtual platforms will decrease. When exactly that will occur is unclear.

Facing the Chip Shortage

Despite the fact that the first quarter of the year was highly impressive for the PC industry, experts believe it could have been even better. Unfortunately, the global chip shortage continues to have an impact on every sector.

Manufacturers are finding it difficult to acquire the necessary components to make everything from cars to consumer devices.

No company, regardless of size, is immune to the problem. Even Apple is reportedly facing shortages for components found in its MacBook and iPad devices. When a company of that magnitude has issues, that’s a clear sign that the market is facing serious disruption.

In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how the PC industry responds. A decrease in demand is lurking somewhere on the horizon. Chip shortages will likely amplify that problem.

Even so, both Gartner and IDC have a hopeful outlook for the future. The two research firms project continued support for the PC industry with strong sales throughout the year.


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