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The monitor boom may have ended, says IDC

WfH kit has all been bought, but the pressure is now on to upgrade

For the first time since the global pandemic began, the PC monitor market has shown a year-on-year decline, according to analyst firm International Data Corporation (IDC) last week.

The 7.2 percent year-on-year decline in Q3 2021 resulted in a little over 34.8 million units making their way out of factories. The decline follows five consecutive quarters of year-on-year growth.

“While many countries, especially in the emerging economies of Asia/Pacific, continued to show solid demand and fulfilled backorders, key markets in North America and Western Europe saw sizable contractions mainly due to a degree of softening in consumer demand,” IDC stated.

The firm also cited lingering supply and logistic challenges amid rising prices.

A return to the office for some companies eased the decline as companies updated kit in preparation for in-person workers actually coming in to work. This was particularly reflected in the numbers seen for Dell and Lenovo. The two vendors bucked the trend for negative Q321 growth with a whopping 20.6 per cent year-on-year growth for Dell and a more modest 6.9 per cent year-on-year growth for Lenovo.

All other tracked PC monitor manufacturers experienced negative growth, with shipments of commercial kit down two points year-on-year.

Shipments of models aimed at consumers shrank an average of 12 per cent.

IDC predicts the market isn’t done with its downward slide - shipments are expected to slow for the remainder of the year. But to put all that into perspective, the growth the market already experienced has been so robust that even with the decline, 2021 shipment volume will likely come out 4.6 percent ahead of 2020.

“We expect the market to achieve peak volume as we end 2021 with the highest shipment levels since 2012," said Jay Chou, research manager for IDC's Worldwide Quarterly PC Monitor Tracker.

Chou reckons commercial segment will be the main driver, but consumer segments shouldn’t be overlooked – there’s now a much bigger customer base that will need regular refreshes.

“We believe the changes wrought by the permanency of hybrid work and flexible learning will enable faster refresh rates across all user segments,” said Chou.

Hybrid work arrangements are indeed likely to stay. More than half of UK workers said they would quit their job if a hybrid option were to be taken away. With "The Great Resignation" - unusually high resignation rates - playing out, it may not be an optimal time for companies to play chicken with their workforce.

A decent monitor is not expensive - $300 buys impressive kit - so perhaps wary employers will see them as a way to demonstrate admiration for their employees at home in the office.

Meanwhile, the PC market is also cooling after two straight years of double-digit growth. IDC predicted recent buying surges will smooth out to deliver five-year compound annual growth rate of 3.3 per cent with notebooks driving the increase. That's far better than pre-pandemic PC sales, which were in gentle decline.

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