PC 'price hike' coming as cost of memory soars – analysts

Scores are on the doors for Q4, as after 2 years shipments grow again... by 0.3%

The PC industry has ended a two-year run of declining shipments, by growing 0.3 percent in Q4 of 2023, amid a warning that the cost of components will rise this year, as will the cost of laptops and desktops.

This is according to analyst Gartner's figures, but other analysts have a different view of proceedings: IDC reckons this was the eighth straight quarter of "sales-out" shrinkage - meaning sales to retailers and distributors - and Canalys estimates the market actually grew three percent.

We've chosen on this occasion to go down the middle and mostly focus on the data emitted by number crunchers at Gartner, which calculates that some 63.37 million PCs were shipped in the three months.

“The PC market has hit the bottom of its decline after significant adjustment," said Mikako Kitagawa, director analyst at Gartner. "Inventory was normalized in the fourth quarter of 2023, which had been plaguing the industry for two years.

"This subtle growth suggests that demand and supply are finally balanced. However, this situation will likely change due to the anticipated component price hike in 2024, as well as geopolitical and economic uncertainties."

Talk in the Asian supply chain is that SSD prices could jump 50 percent this year due to rising NAND and DDR costs, with an 18 to 23 percent impact forecast for this quarter alone, according to analyst TrendForce.

There was mixed trading performance among the six biggest vendors: Lenovo grew 3.2 percent to 16.2 million; HP grew 5.6 percent to 13.95 million; Dell declined 8.3 percent to 9.98 million; Apple grew 7.2 percent to 6.35 million; ASUS shrank 9.4 percent to 4.4 million; and Acer was up 11.1 percent to 3.98 million.

The US market expanded 1.8 percent; EMEA grew 8.7 percent - the first growth since Q4 2021; and Asia Pacific declined on the back of a depressed market in China.

Over at IDC, the analyst estimates that PC shipments were down 2.7 percent to 67.1 million, and also said the market has "bottomed out." Canalys was more bullish, and reckons shipments were up three percent to 65.3 million.

Things certainly seem to be improving but those heady days of the pandemic, when the total available market swelled to 350 million in 2021, seem like a long time ago. ®

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