The coronavirus and the ensuing need to work from home is creating skyrocketing demand for PCs, according to research firms.
Canalys attributes the surge to businesses upgrading their workforces with new laptops and IT equipment. At the same time, parents have been shopping for new PCs so their kids can attend classes online.
“The PC industry has been boosted by the global COVID-19 lockdown, with products flying off the shelves throughout Q1,” says Canalys Research Director Rushabh Doshi. Other products in demand include webcams, monitors, printers, and headphones.
Research firm IDC is also seeing a spike in laptop sales in Europe. “This has led to many retailers and distributors in Western Europe running out of stock,” IDC analyst Malini Paul writes in a research note.
Nevertheless, laptop vendors are struggling to capitalize on the demand. The pandemic has been disrupting the world’s electronics supply chain, particularly in China, which has been ground zero for COVID-19. Not helping the matter is how Intel’s lower-end PC processors have been in short supply for over a year now.
As a result, PC shipments for the first quarter reached only 53.7 million for an 8 percent year-over-year decrease, according to Canalys. Apple was hit hardest with shipments falling by 20 percent.
“PC makers started 2020 with a constrained supply of Intel processors, caused by a botched transition to 10nm (nanometers) nodes. This was exacerbated when factories in China were unable to reopen after the Lunar New Year holidays,” Doshi adds.
The good news is that laptop production in China is moving toward normal levels. However, Canalys doesn’t expect the coronavirus-inspired surge in PC demand to last. The pandemic is taking an economic toll, forcing buyers to tighten budgets.
“A global recession has begun — businesses will go bankrupt with millions newly unemployed,” says Canalys analyst Ishan Dutt. “Many parts of the tech industry have benefited from the early part of this extraordinary lockdown period, but we expect to see a significant downturn in demand in Q2 2020.”