COVID-19 Boosting PC Sales


Add makers of personal computers to the short list of companies that are seeing a net benefit from the COVID-19 crisis.

IDC reported that worldwide sales of PCs surged in the quarter ended June 30, 2020, with U.S. sales growing the most.

Analysts at Framingham, MA-based IDC wrote, “Traditional PC shipments posted double-digit growth in the second quarter of 2020 compared to the same period a year ago. While the first quarter was record breaking for the lowest PC shipments seen in over a decade, the second quarter was record breaking for the opposite reason. With volumes expected to surpass 21 million units, the U.S. has not seen such volume since the end of 2009. Inventory replenishment and record demand from stay-at-home orders can be attributed what is expected to be another record-breaking quarter.”

According to IDC, whose research is preliminary, worldwide PC sales were led by Hewlett-Packard, followed by: Lenovo, Dell Technologies, Apple and Acer Group.

“The strong demand driven by work-from-home as well as e-learning needs has surpassed previous expectations and has once again put the PC at the center of consumers’ tech portfolio,” Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers report, said in a prepared statement released by the company. “What remains to be seen is if this demand and high level of usage continues during a recession and into the post-COVID world, since budgets are shrinking while schools and workplaces reopen.”

Added Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices and Displays, at IDC: “Early indicators suggest strong PC shipments for education, enterprise, and consumer, muted somewhat by frozen SMBs,” said . “With inventory still back-ordered, this goodwill will continue into July. However, as we head deeper into a global recession, the goodwill sentiment will increasingly sour.”

At Stamford, CT.-based Gartner, Research Director Mikako Kitagawa also reported high second-quarter sales, but sounded a cautionary note.

“The second quarter of 2020 represented a short-term recovery for the worldwide PC market, led by exceptionally strong growth in EMEA,” said Kitagawa, research director at Gartner. “After the PC supply chain was severely disrupted in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the growth this quarter was due to distributors and retail channels restocking their supplies back to near-normal levels.

“Additionally, mobile PC growth was particularly strong, driven by several factors including business continuity for remote working, online education and consumers’ entertainment needs,” he added. “However, this uptick in mobile PC demand will not continue beyond 2020, as shipments were mainly boosted by short-term business needs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The strong sales also follow Microsoft Corp.’s termination of support for its Windows 7 operating system. Such changes often prompt users of an out-of-favor operating system to replace older machines.