Gifting a PC this Holiday Season Could be Tricky

Supply chain issues snarl PC and tablet market, but forecast shows long-term growth ahead

(Source: IDC.)

(Source: IDC.)

Despite growth in shipments of traditional PCs in 2021 by 13.5 percent, holiday shipments are expected to drop by 3.4 percent as global supply chain challenges continue to impede the timely flow of goods. This comes during a year when the global chip shortage—also caused by supply chain woes—drove up the price of many PC brands.

According to the International Data Corporation’s Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, the holiday shortfall will be followed by a decrease in PC demand in 2022, although the longer-term forecast is robust.

The IDC estimates that about 344.7 million units of PCs will be shipped this year, with 2021 demand for tablets on par with a 4.3 percent growth rate and a parallel 8.6 percent decline expected for fourth-quarter shipments.

Next year, the coming drop in demand for PCs follows two consecutive years of double-digit growth. Yet, looking farther out, the IDC forecasts a five-year compound annual growth rate of 3.3 percent, mainly due to demand for notebook PCs. At the same time, the agency expects the demand for tablets to continue to languish due to competition from both larger and smaller devices.

“While we have seen some slowing of consumer demand in certain segments and markets, demand for gaming remains an exception, and overall consumer demand is well above pre-pandemic levels,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. “Additionally, the onset of saturation in some education markets is another cause for lower expectations in the coming quarters.”

It’s not just consumer PCs that are projected on a longer-term growth trajectory. The global industrial PC market size is forecasted to balloon from the current $4.6 billion to $6.1 billion by 2026 with a 5.8 percent increase, according to a report from MarketsandMarkets. The outlook is based on the soaring demand for industrial IoT, the adoption of digital manufacturing, and the need for resource optimization in manufacturing. Over the next five years, industrial panel PCs used in rugged environments are expected to command the largest share of the industrial PC market.

Discrete industries that produce individual units with either low volume and high complexity or with high volume and low complexity are forecasted to drive growth for industrial PCs at a higher rate than other industries. The report also indicates that the Asia-Pacific region will lead demand for industrial PCs.

“With ongoing supply chain challenges, we have seen OEMs prioritizing commercial demand in recent months,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. “More often than not, the commercial dollars are larger and more guaranteed compared to the consumer and education segments. The recent slowdown in the consumer segment is expected to continue into 2022, but in the long run, we expect the consumer PC market will have a five-year growth rate similar to the commercial segment.”

Of the commercial, consumer and education market segments, Reith only expects the commercial segment to grow in 2022. He said it will take time for the consumer cycle to refresh after the high-buying period the past two years. After all, the average consumer doesn’t buy a new PC every year. Reith said that the education segment could also improve once supply catches up with demand.