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Rising PC market pulled to earth by supply chain issues

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The semiconductor market is booming. Intel, AMD, Nvidia and related companies all record huge profits, but actual PC shipments to North America fell in the third quarter of 2021, while global sales only rose five percent.

In a market as mature as PCs, five percent growth would generally be a great result, but these are no ordinary times. Ongoing pandemic shortages may explain at least part of the decline in the United States, although the shift from remote work and schooling explains the rest.

“Congested supply chains and ongoing logistical challenges have driven the US PC market into its first quarter of annual drop in shipments since the start of the pandemic,” said Neha Mahajan, senior research analyst, Devices and Displays at IDC. “After a year of accelerated purchasing driven by the shift to work and distance learning, there has also been a comparative slowdown in PC spending and that has caused the US PC market to slow down somewhat today. Yet supply clearly remains below demand in key segments with inventories still below normal levels. “

Even with this slower growth, the compound annual growth rate of the PC market has reached 9% since the third quarter of 2019. This is according to Canalys, which reports that shipments of desktops and laptops have increased. increased year on year, but that the market remains overwhelmingly oriented towards laptops. Shipments of laptops and mobile workstations grew 3% year-on-year to 67.4 million units while shipments of desktop computers grew 12% to 16.6 million of units. The desktop market has shrunk significantly to include PC gaming, workstations, and low-end systems. During the pandemic, total unit shipments increased sharply to laptops, in large part thanks to the overwhelming popularity of Chromebooks.

The question of what the long term future of the PC market looks like varies depending on who you ask the question. Companies like Intel, AMD and Nvidia have been bullish on the prospect of long-term demand, while analysts have more bearish expectations. While no one expects the growth of the pandemic era to continue in the long term, the question is whether or not the market will remain as active as it is now, or whether consumers will move away from them. PC and will revert to other devices in the long run. term.

Moreover, according to Canalys, no one should expect the current supply chain situation to improve anytime soon. The analytics company says, “The PC supply shortage is expected to last until 2022, with this year’s holiday season expected to see a significant portion of unfulfilled orders. Vendors able to manage this period of operational upheaval by diversifying production and distribution and having better visibility of orders to prioritize device allocation will be equipped to weather the storm.

Shipments fell to countries like the United States, Canada, and Japan, but those declines were offset by strong growth in Latin America, EMEA, and Asia-Pacific with the exception of Japan, where shipments increased by 17%, 16% and 13% respectively.

Much would seem to depend on what happens to the Chromebook market over the next year or so. Demand for Chromebook drove a gigantic share of the growth in the PC market during the pandemic, so whether or not it declines will likely depend on long-term demand for Google’s platform. This, in turn, can be shaped by how countries around the world continue to cope with the pandemic. Intel, TSMC and Samsung have all embarked on aggressive capacity expansion plans over the next several years, signaling where they think the market is heading.

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