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PC sales suffer worst decline since 2013 due to coronavirus outbreak

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A Dell laptop computer is seen in Charleston, South Carolina, Monday, August 15, 2006. Dell Inc., the world’s largest maker of personal computers, is recalling 4.1 million notebook PC batteries that may burst into flames.

Adam Berry | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Global sales of PCs in the first quarter suffered a sharp slump, according to preliminary findings from two industry research firms, as supply chains were hit by the coronavirus outbreak.

According to Gartner, 51.6 million PC units were shipped in the first three months of the year, down 12.3% from the previous year. It marks the biggest fall in shipments since 2013, and follows three consecutive quarters of growth for the market.

“The single most significant influencing factor for PC shipment decline was the coronavirus outbreak, which resulted in disruptions to both the supply and demand of PCs,” said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner.

“Following the first lockdown in China in late January, there was lower PC production volume in February that turned into logistics challenges.”

It’s estimated that about a third of the world’s population is under some form of restriction due to the Covid-19 pandemic, as governments across the globe race to contain the spread of the disease.

China recently lifted Wuhan’s lockdown after the city closed its borders on January 23. Wuhan had been the epicenter of the pandemic, with more than 80,000 reported cases and 3,000 deaths.

Despite the need for remote working and online education increasing as more countries imposed lockdown measures, Gartner’s Kitagawa said that PC manufacturers had struggled to meet the demand.

‘Longstanding positive consequences’

IDC put the figure for first-quarter global PC shipments at 53.2 million, representing a 9.8% slump year over year. Excluding Japan, Asia was among the hardest-hit regions, with PC shipments posting a double-digit decline.

Though the economic impact of Covid-19 will likely continue to weigh on PC sales in the short term, IDC expects the sector’s outlook to improve as companies invest more in telecommuting hardware.

“IDC believes there will be longstanding positive consequences once the dust settles,” said Linn Huang, IDC’s research vice president of devices and displays. “Businesses that once primarily kept their users on campus will have to invest in remote infrastructure, at the very least, for continuity purposes.”

Gartner said the top three PC makers, Lenovo, HP and Dell, held their position in terms of market share, though HP saw a dramatic 12.1% drop in global shipments. Dell was the only vendor to report growth, with the manufacturer’s PC shipments climbing 2.2% in the first quarter.



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