Wait, what? Workstation sales set new record in 2022?

Then they plunged properly like all other client devices

PC sales may have slumped during 2022, but a record number of workstations – 7.7 million – were snapped up by buyers, delivering 2.1 percent year-on-year growth.

The news wasn't all good, because sales settled sharply in the final quarter.

"The global desktop and mobile workstation market began 2022 with strong momentum but ultimately faced saturation and economic realities near the year's end," stated analyst firm IDC last Friday.

Research manager Jay Chou said the four consecutive quarters in which workstation shipments exceeded two million units was "well above historical norms and proved unsustainable in the face of tightened budgets and ongoing inflation."

Which handily explains why Q4 saw year-on-year unit shipment decline of 22.2 percent, thanks to economic concerns and backlogs finally being filled.

2021 was a bumper year for mobile workstations thanks to certain events that made working from home fashionable, while 2022's return to the joys of office life brought an end to the mobile surge in favor of desktop workstations. But although companies invested heavily in desktops in 2022, IDC reckons mobiles will continue to thrive – at least in markets friendly to hybrid work arrangements. Gartner has predicted 39 percent of orgs will continue with hybrid work in 2023 worldwide.

The top three companies in terms of workstation market share remained the same in 2022, 2021 and Q4 2022. Dell came up on top and was the only company in the top five that grew market share between 2021 and 2022.

"The vendor's measured approach to inventory management helped it weather the sector downturn better than others," noted IDC.

In second place was HP Inc, which IDC said did well thanks to continued focus on mobile form factors, but was hurt "by earlier aggressive channel shipments." Lenovo took third place, but experienced slowing demand for premium models.

NEC was in fourth place in 2021, but was overtaken by ASUS in 2022. ASUS stayed in fourth place in Q4, benefitting from its niche in desktop workstations. While the other four top companies were in the red – shrinking between -13.1 percent to -31.1 percent year-on-year – ASUS actually grew by more than 54 percent.

The analyst firm predicted 2023 will bring a further decline in global shipments of around 4.2 percent year-on-year, while markets cool, inventories clear and companies sweat existing tech in favor of budgets. The next years are expected to bring some recovery, as workload requirements expand.

But the overall PC market looks bleak. In January, IDC declared the pandemic-induced global PC shipment boom officially over, as all major vendors experienced sales declines. ®

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