Pandemic-related supply issues send US PC market into decline

Shortages are still at play.
Enlarge / Shortages are still at play.

It could be harder to get a new PC this holiday season, as supply chain issues continue to hinder the market. Numbers shared by analysts today show that component shortages related to the COVID-19 pandemic are still very much affecting PC supply—and demand.

“The shortfall in supply of PCs is expected to last well into 2022, with the holiday season of this year set to see a significant portion of orders not met,” Ishan Dutt, senior analyst at Canalys, said in a statement. 

The biggest factor slowing the growth of desktop, laptop, and workstation shipments is disruption to the global supply chain and logistics network, Dutt said. Manufacturers are dealing with restrictions and even lockdowns, especially in Asia. This situation is leading to backlogs for PC-makers and their partners.

Global growth, US decline

Around the world, Q3 2021 was a time of growth for the PC market, according to Canalys, which reported 5 percent growth compared to Q3 2020, and IDC, which saw 3.9 percent growth. However, the US actually saw a decline. Canalys reported the decline at over 9 percent year over year (IDC didn’t disclose the figure in its announcement). This was partially due to the components shortage, which has been affecting various parts, like integrated circuits used in power management and Wi-Fi modules, for example. However, another contributor was simply that many Americans had already recently bought a new PC by then.

“Bottlenecked supply chains and ongoing logistic challenges led the US PC market into its first quarter of annual shipment decline since the beginning of the pandemic,” Neha Mahajan, senior research analyst of Devices and Displays at IDC, said in a statement.

“After a year of accelerated buying driven by the shift to remote work and learning, there’s also been a comparative slowdown in PC spending, and that has caused some softening of the US PC market today. Yet supply clearly remains behind demand in key segments, with inventory still below normal levels,” Mahajan said.

Some PC-makers are deprioritizing mature markets like the US in favor of markets with more accelerated growth.

Lenovo on top

Both IDC and Canalys found that in Q3 2021, Lenovo shipped more PCs than any other brand, followed by HP, Dell, and Apple. Lenovo represented about 23 percent to 24 percent of marketshare, depending on which analyst’s numbers you look at, and was followed by HP (about 20-21 percent), Dell (around 18 percent), and then Apple (approximately 9 percent).

Dependence on Chromebooks hurt HP, which has seen its growth plummet (by 5.7 percent in Q3, Canalys said) as more students return to in-person learning.

Lenovo tops HP, Dell, Apple, and others.

Lenovo tops HP, Dell, Apple, and others.

Pushing volume

Q3 2020 growth peaked at about 55 percent.
Enlarge / Q3 2020 growth peaked at about 55 percent.

There were 86.7 million PCs shipped in Q3, according to IDC, while Canalys reported 84.1 million. Desktops and workstations reportedly showed the most growth (12 percent compared to 3 percent for laptops and workstations, as per Canalys, but there were more laptops and workstations shipped (67.4 million versus 16.6 million).