Analysts at IDC have dropped their year-end analysis of where the personal computer market ended up in 2021, and overall it’s a mixed bag. Despite seeing strong growth this year that was partly fueled by the pandemic and people being at home more, supply chain problems will be paramount in the fourth quarter’s holiday season, and will put a dent in the overall growth pattern, according to the forecast.
IDC’s report, which is based on data gathered from 90 countries, predicts the PC market will see a growth rate of 13.5 percent this year, as it’s anticipated to ship 344.7 million units globally. However, supply chain issues and increased prices for logistics and shipping will likely result in a small decline in the final quarter, with shipments declining 3.4 percent. The same pattern exists this year for tablets too, which grew overall by 4.3 percent, but will likely also decline in the fourth quarter by 8.6 percent.
Big picture, the forecast predicts that despite two back-to-back years of incredibly strong growth and continued high demand for gaming PCs, the market will likely start to cool off a bit in 2022. “The market has pulled past peak pandemic PC demand,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers. “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. Additionally, the onset of saturation in some education markets is another cause for lower expectations in the coming quarters.” Despite supply chain setbacks and chip shortages, it’s still predicted that by 2025 the PC category as a whole will have grown 3.3 percent, with most of the growth driven by demand for notebooks. That’s in contrast to the tablet market, which is predicted to continue to decline as the handheld devices face increasing pressure from smartphones and notebooks.
Rounding out the report, it’s predicted that commercial segment is the only one that will see any growth next year, as OEMs have to prioritize right now and that’s where the money is due to the size of contracts and the reliability of the arrangements. That stands in stark contrast to the consumer and education markets, where supply cannot keep up with demand, and won’t be able to until sometime next year, most likely.
If these predictions turn out to be accurate, it’ll be quite the about-face for an industry that has seen unprecedented growth for almost two years straight. Interestingly, this does track a bit with what Nvidia’s CFO said earlier this month, which is that she expects GPU prices to begin to stabilize in the second half of 2022. However, a lot of the future outlook seems like it will hinge on what happens with the pandemic in the near future, which nobody can predict.
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