Working from home means we’re still buying PCs. Lots of them

The continued need for many of us to work, study and be entertained while at home is leading to increased demand for PCs.

The PC market has been in long-term decline, largely thanks to the rise of the smartphone and other devices that make the PC less attractive to many, particularly consumers, who have been upgrading much less often.

However, the COVID-19 pandemic has lead to a huge increase in home working which, has in turn created big demand for business laptops, plus consumer devices for watching video and playing games while at home. 

According to research by IDC, shipments of traditional PCs – made up of desktops, notebooks, and workstations – in EMEA will total 82.1 million in 2020, a 12.7% year-on-year increase. The tech analyst said that demand will continue to be strong throughout 2020 and into the first half of 2021.

The Western European commercial market is expected to return to growth (up 7.1% year-on-year) in the fourth quarter of this year as lockdowns and restrictions accelerate the transition toward mobility, further skewing the product mix in favour of notebooks. The Western European consumer market could grown 28.0% year-on-year in the same period, its third consecutive quarter of substantial growth

“The second wave of the pandemic, allied with businesses still shifting to an indefinite remote working environment, will continue to erode demand for stationary devices,” said Liam Hall, senior research analyst, IDC Western Europe Personal Computing. The ongoing rollout of laptops across education – as schools and colleges wrestle with remote learning – is also likely to boost sales.

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Image: IDC

While longer term sales of desktops is likely to contract further (they only account for 20% of the market now) in the short term desktops sales will actually see something of a boost, thanks to demand from gamers for powerful machines. For price-sensitive consumers, desktops also provide the best specification-to-cost ratio, IDC noted.

“Notebooks will remain the preferred form factor and will continue to experience exceptional growth driven by the need to equip every household member with a device for remote learning, as well as entertainment, during the ongoing lockdown periods,” it said.

Longer term there is little prospect for growth – IDC predicts sales will be significantly lower again by 2024, with traditional desktops and notebooks bearing the brunt of the decline.

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