The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has recently made it more difficult to buy a new laptop, and we are now beginning to see how PC shipments have been affected. While PC shipments fell sharply during the impact on production in Q1, both IDC and Gartner report shipments grew in the second quarter despite an economic slowdown.
Remote working and training are undoubtedly increasing the demand for PCs. Businesses and students have had to adapt to working and learning remotely, increasing the demand for laptops. IDC says PC shipments are up 11.2 percent year over year, while Gartner puts it at a more modest 2.8 percent.
Gartner doesn’t include Chromebooks in its PC shipments, but IDC includes them in its numbers. Clearly, Chromebooks help boost overall PC demand. IDC even points to “intense Chromebook demand from both consumers and institutions” in Canada, and “record demand from stay-at-home orders” for PCs in general in the US.
However, PC shipping numbers do not reflect actual sales. These are simply shipments to retailers such as Best Buy, who then sell the laptops to consumers. Sales are likely to be higher as consumers purchase existing inventory. We’ve seen long delivery times and inventory issues for laptops at some retailers in the U.S., and NPD reported an average 40 percent year-over-year increase in sales of Windows laptops and Chromebooks in May.
Microsoft also reported an increase in demand for PCs during the last profit in April and a big general leap in Windows usage. “The PC is back,” Jared Spataro, head of Microsoft 365, quipped in an interview with The edge at the beginning of the pandemic. “People recognize that … using an iPad to work from home won’t work. That PC form factor is huge, and you can see that data everywhere, from the supply chain and what happens to devices. ”
Microsoft is also adjusting its Windows 10X plans thanks to the pandemic. The 10X operating system variant now comes first on traditional single-screen laptop screens. Microsoft originally planned to introduce Windows 10X on dual-screen devices, but the pandemic changed the company’s priorities.