PC sales slump to pre-pandemic level in Q4. 'Boom' is over, says IDC
Vendors lower prices to stimulate demand but inflation, fears of recession trump discounts
Global PC shipments – desktops, notebooks and workstations – saw out 2022 with something of a whimper as sales volumes crashed to levels last seen before the pandemic.
According to IDC, 67.2 million traditional computers were shipped in calendar Q4, down 28.1 percent on the prior year, on a par with the number of boxes sold to resellers and retailers in the final quarter of 2018 when the sector was constrained by Intel's CPU shortages. Remember them?
There can be no doubt that the "pandemic boom is over for the PC market," said the market researcher. Sales are waning and demand is a worry for manufacturers as many users have already a relatively new machines and gloom in the global economy is deepening.
Still, for those in need, now might be a good time to buy a PC. "Average selling prices across many channels also fell as excess channel inventory over the course of the past few months triggered discounting in an effort to spur demand," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC.
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He added: "Despite these efforts, inventory management of finished PCs as well as components will remain a key issue in the coming quarters and has the potential to further affect ASPs."
All of the major vendors experienced declines: market leader Lenovo was down 28.5 percent to 15.5 million units, HP fell 29 percent to 13.2 million, Dell dropped 37.2 percent to 10.8 million, and ASUS was down 20.9 percent. Apple was also down 2.1 percent to 7.5 million.
This was the fourth straight quarter of decline in the PC industry, and for the year shipments were down 16.5 percent to 292.3 million. For context, this is still higher than pre-pandemic volumes but the direction of travel is obvious.
Apple was the only top five player with shipment growth for the year, up 2.5 percent to 28.6 million units, we're told, and at least one rival, HP, is preparing to clean off the redundancy cannon in a nod to falling business.
Data compiled by Canalys indicates shipments for 2022 shrank 16 percent year-on-year to 285.1 million. This followed a crappy Q4 when units dived 29 percent to 65.4 million, including a 30 percent slump in notebooks to 51.4 million and 24 percent in desktop to around 14 million.
Ishan Dutt, senior analyst at Canalys, said efforts to stimulate demand with lower prices failed to drive significant sell-in.
"With rising costs for energy and basic goods in key markets like the US and Europe, expenditure on big-ticket items like PCs has taken a back seat as consumers are prepared to delay refreshes."
He added: "On the commercial front, both public and private sector budgets faced tightening amid rising interest rates, slowdowns in hiring and expectations of a recession early next year."
Both IDC and Canalys opted to take the glass half full approach, expecting some activity later this year and more momentum next. The PC market isn't dead, it's just resting. ®