PC market growth slows amid global chip shortages

The PC market is showing early signs of a slowdown in growth after posting impressive shipments throughout 2020. Both IDC and Gartner concluded that PC shipment growth slowed in the second quarter of this year. Demand for new PCs is still higher than we’ve seen before the pandemic, but a mix of declining demand and the effects of a global chip shortage isn’t growing fast enough.

“The market is facing mixed signals when it comes to demand,” said Neha Mahajan, Senior Research Analyst at IDC. “The demand potential in the commercial sector looks promising as businesses reopen. But there are also early indicators that consumer demand is slowing as people change their spending priorities after about a year of aggressive PC purchases.”

According to IDC, more than 83 million PCs were shipped in the second quarter of 2021, with Gartner’s own figure of over 71 million. Gartner didn’t include Chromebook shipments in its results, but the research firm says “Chromebook shipments were strong once again in the second quarter of 2021.” Either way, the two companies agree that year-over-year growth in this recent quarter is not as strong as the sharp growth in 2020.

That doesn’t mean PC sales are suddenly plummeting, but the first big growth we’ve seen in a decade could start to wane. Lenovo is still the world’s leading PC maker, and according to Gartner, Apple, Acer and Asus have grown faster than the overall market thanks to increased availability of consumer PCs. “The consumer PC market has been less affected by the shortage than the enterprise market, as vendors have more flexibility to address specific supply constraints in the system design of the consumer model,” says Gartner.

While there are clear early signs of slowing growth in the PC market, Microsoft and its OEM partners will hope to further revitalize PCs later this year. Windows 11 is due out in October, and Microsoft’s minimum hardware requirements will force many people to upgrade their PCs. New versions of Windows always come with big marketing campaigns, and so is Windows 11. This year is going to be an exciting year for the PC market, with Apple’s impressive M1 MacBook and Intel reviving Mac-to-PC commercials.

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