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Global PC market falls at fastest rate in 9 years

Nothing shiny about US Chromebook sales anymore, plus war in Ukraine and inflation hits EMEA shipments

A collapse in Chromebook demand along with conflict in Europe and a worrying rise in inflation have led to the steepest decline in PC shipments in nine years.

According to preliminary data for calendar Q2, Gartner estimates worldwide sales-in – products taken in by retailers and distributors – at 72.011 million, down 12.6 percent year-on-year.

"The decline we saw in the first quarter of 2022 has accelerated in the second quarter, driven by the ongoing geopolitical instability caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, inflationary pressure on spending, and a steep downturn in demand for Chromebooks," said Mikako Kitigawa, research director.

Apple was the only major top five vendor to report an expanding sales ledger, up 9.3 percent globally to 6.365 million. Gartner said, somewhat unsurprisingly, this was "driven by the popularity of the M1 device."

The M2 is out now for those who want to spend a couple of hundred more on extra features that didn't truly impress, as we revealed last week.

As for the others, global market leader Lenovo was down 12.5 percent to 17.863 million units, HP was down 27.5 percent to 13.5 million, and Dell was down 5.2 percent to 13.298 million. Behind Apple was Acer with shipments of 5.09 million, down 18.7 percent.

In terms of regions, some 4 million fewer PCs were shipped into US channels during Q2 – and the blame was mostly apportioned to the less and less loved Chromebook form factor.

Some 20.5 million units were shipped in the US, down a whopping 17.5 percent year-on-year. Again, Apple was the only top five player to report expansion, Gartner said.

"Although the [US] market experienced shipment growth in both desktop PCs and laptops, this growth was offset by a 50 percent year-on-year decline in Chromebook shipments," said the market researcher.

As previously noted, the Chromebook revolution ended in the third quarter of last year and shipments have declined ever since. Some 70 percent of all these sales came from the US but the consumer and education markets are saturated, and future sales will likely be tied to Chromebook refresh cycles.

The Europe, Middle East, and Africa region was the worst performing in the quarter, with PC shipments down 18 percent to 17.8 million devices.

"This is a major setback in total volume after two years of very strong growth stimulated by COVID-19 and refreshed interest in PCs among consumers and the education segment," said Kitagawa. "Abandonment or complete relinquishment of operations in Russia due to war in Ukraine had an even bigger impact on the PC market, as Russian PC shipments for leading PC vendors used to contribute between 5-10 percent the total EMEA PC volume."

Unlike the US, the EMEA declines included a 20 percent fall in laptop shipments, as well as a 50 percent crash in Chromebooks. Consumers are wrestling with inflation, especially on fuel and energy. Inflation in Britain, for example, was more than 11 percent higher in June than it was a year earlier.

Asia Pacific was down 5.4 percent, driven by a 16 percent decline in China, and the Japanese PC market shrank by 10.8 percent.

Gartner's view of the PC industry was quite different from IDC's retelling yesterday, although both concurred that Chromebook sales are sinking fast. ®

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