There has been a surge in demand for consumer electronics in the past few weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic that is gripping our world. The need for both entertainment devices like TVs and consoles as well as productivity tools like phones and computers have never been higher during periods of quarantines and lockdowns. That situation should be a boon to the ailing PC industry and, to some extent, it did have some positive impact. Ironically, the same situation that has caused a spike in demand is also causing a big dip in shipments as well.
PCs were flying off the shelves, IDC reports, and sales may have been briefly boosted because of that. However, while the demand has been and continues to be high, manufacturers are unable to keep up and ship enough inventory to supply that need. It turns out, COVID-19 is the cause of both situations.
PC makers and retailers were caught unprepared by what would become a pandemic and started 2020 with a low supply of processors, particularly from Intel. When the novel coronavirus hit, it was too late for Chinese factories to supply needed parts and manpower. Even when businesses in China reopened, the slower pace meant PC makers have fewer computers to sell than what consumers wanted to buy.
All OEMs except Dell suffered a loss in Q1 2020’s shipment figures, though Lenovo still remains at the top with 12,830 million units shipped, keeping a 23.9% share of the market. The hardest hit was apparently Apple who saw a 21% drop compared to the same period last year. Its luxurious pricing may be working against it during situations like these.
Sadly, IDC doesn’t have high hopes for the PC market in the coming quarters. Although production will finally be able to pick up the pace, the spike in demand is unlikely to carry over as companies make fewer purchases and households settle down with what they have. Worse, a global recession will mean businesses might go bankrupt and both people and companies will choose the spend their remaining finances on other priorities.