PC Sales Plummet Following Pandemic High

PC Sales Plummet Following Pandemic High

Some in the personal computer industry hoped the back-to-school season would increase sales, but the results were disappointing.

While shipments of personal computers surged during the coronavirus pandemic and for a while after, those increases are a thing of the past. Shipments actually fell by double digits in the third quarter of 2022, according to a pair of reports released this week by Gartner Research and IDC. 

The Gartner report found that worldwide PC shipments dropped 19.5 percent year over year in the third quarter of 2022 to  68 million units. IDC said shipments dropped 15 percent in the quarter, to 74.3 million units. The numbers are different because the two firms use different methodologies. 

“This quarter’s results could mark a historic slowdown for the PC market,” Mikako Kitagawa, Director Analyst at Gartner, said in the release. 

“While supply chain disruptions have finally eased, high inventory has now become a major issue given weak PC demand in both the consumer and business markets. Back to school sales ended with disappointing results despite massive promotions and price drops, due to a lack of need as many consumers had purchased new PCs in the last two years. On the business side, geopolitical and economic uncertainties led to more selective IT spending, and PCs were not at the top of the priority list.”

“Consumer demand has remained muted though promotional activity from the likes of Apple and other players has helped soften the fall and reduce channel inventory by a couple weeks across the board,” Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobility and Consumer Device Trackers, said in their release. “Supply has also reacted to the new lows by reducing orders with Apple being the only exception as their third quarter supply increased to make up for lost orders stemming from the lockdowns in China during the second quarter.”

In terms of market share, the two reports were less in agreement than usual. Gartner had Lenovo in first place in the third quarter of 2022, with 17.1 million shipments, followed by HP and Dell (12.7 million and 12 million, respectively), Apple with 5.79 million, and Acer with 4.49 million. 

IDC had the same top four, yet it had Apple shipping 10 million units, nearly double what Gartner said, and it had Asus in fifth place with 5.5 million. Both firms saw the "other" category with significant numbers of shipments. 

“In addition to shipment volumes, we’ll be keeping a close eye on how average selling prices (ASPs) trend this quarter,”  Linn Huang, vice president for research, Devices & Displays at IDC, added in the release. “Shortages over the last several years have aggressively driven product mix shifts towards the premium end. This, coupled with cost increases of components and logistics, drove ASPs up five quarters in a row to $910 in 1Q22, the highest since 2004. However, with demand slowing, promotions in full swing, and orders being cut, the ASP climb was reversed in 2Q22. Another quarter of ASP declines indicates a market in retreat.”

Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters.