PC shipments plummet as macroeconomic worries bite

The global PC market saw its steepest decline on record as economic uncertainty and a glut of unsold inventory dented shipments for the fourth quarter in a row.

Worldwide shipments of desktop and laptop computers fell by 19.5 per cent in the third quarter of 2022 compared with the year-ago period, according to research firm Gartner. It was the biggest drop Gartner has documented in more than two decades of tracking the market, echoing a sentiment expressed by Canalys, which released similar figures showing double-digit drops.

PC vendors and major suppliers like Advanced Micro Devices have warned of a market slowdown this year, emphasising the need to look for new growth to replace demand from remote work and online learning as the pandemic eases. Although shipping volume remains comparable to pre-pandemic levels and robust hiring numbers suggest positive commercial demand, it's likely that economic headwinds will impact IT spending for both business and personal use into next year, according to Canalys.

"The rapid deterioration in demand across all segments is a worrying sign not only for vendors, but for stakeholders across the supply chain," Canalys senior analyst Ishan Dutt said. "Intel and AMD are facing headwinds from weakness in their PC businesses, and smaller makers of components from ICs to memory are cutting production and lowering earnings forecasts."

The market is likely to recover in the second half of 2023, Dutt added.

New curbs on chips and electronics trade with China from the Biden administration are likely to weigh on the prospects for a recovery for PC makers. They circumscribe the sorts of technology that US companies can sell to China and may lead to retaliatory measures from Beijing.

Lenovo Group remained the top global PC maker, although its shipments fell around 15 per cent, according to Gartner. Among the top five vendors, HP saw the largest decline in the third quarter with a 28 per cent drop. BLOOMBERG

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