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Gartner predicts 9.5% drop in PC shipments

Stark contrast to 11 percent increase year-over-year in 2021 shipments

The party is over for PC makers as figures from Gartner suggest the market is on course for a breathtaking decline this year.

According to the analysts, worldwide PC shipments will decline by 9.5 percent, with consumer demand leading the way – a 13.5 percent drop is forecast, far greater than business PC demand, which is expected to drop by 7.2 percent year on year.

The PC market in the EMEA region is forecast to fare even worse, with a 14 percent decline on the cards for 2022. Gartner pointed the finger of blame at uncertainty caused by conflicts, price increases and simple unavailability of products. Lockdowns in China were also blamed for an impact in consumer demand.

It all makes for grim reading from a channel perspective. While worldwide PC shipments fared the worst, tablet devices are forecast to fall by 9 percent and mobile phones by 7.1 percent. Overall, the total decline over all types of devices in the report is expected to be 7.6 percent. This is in stark contrast to a 11 percent increase year on year in the shipment of PCs in 2021 and 5 per cent for mobile phones.

Chromebooks worst affected – and 5G never saved the day

The Register spoke to Ranjit Atwal, senior director analyst at Gartner, who told us that Chromebooks were one of the PC categories worst affected. "That's really because of the uptick we saw around education buying - mainly in the US, but also in Europe to some extent. The expectation was that might continue ... but it didn't."

Atwal said he had been expecting a dip in the market to come in 2023 but "but that's been pulled forward dramatically" due to rapid drop in consumer shopping.

Citing issues such as the lingering pandemic, inflationary pressures squeezing margins and the impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine being felt in countries such as France and Germany, Atwal said there was "a general apprehension about what we do moving forward, and that apprehension normally turns itself into budget constraints..."

Slammed harder is the great hope of phone manufacturers – 5G. Shipments of phones with the technology grew at 65 per cent year on year in 2021, but is forecast to collapse to a decline of 2 per cent in 2022 for Greater China.

"At the beginning of the year, the Greater China 5G phone market was expected to show double-digit growth," wrote Atwal, "The impact of China's zero tolerance COVID-19 policy and resulting lockdowns have dramatically reversed this trend. Large numbers of consumers stopped buying non-essential items including 5G smartphones."

Worldwide, the expectation is that 5G phone shipments will continue to increase, although Gartner has revised down expectations of growth from 2021 from 47 per cent at the start of the year to 29 per cent. Still, it's not all bad news – demand is expected to pick up in 2023, although more as users replace 4G smartphones as they reach the end of their lifecycle with 5G.

Gartner's figures follow those from IDC, which similarly forecast a slowdown earlier this month. Then, representatives of the PC makers such as HP, Lenovo and Dell did not foresee a complete collapse in demand, but also reckoned that the growth of previous years was more of a blip than a trend.

One thing, however, is for sure. For now, the boom times are over. ®

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