Hangover-time for PC makers after the explosion of demand during the pandemic.
By Wolf Richter for WOLF STREET.
The explosion in demand for consumer electronics, including computers and smartphones, was a big part of the explosion of demand for goods in general during the pandemic, that caused all kinds of things to go haywire, from supply chains to transportation networks, triggering long delays, chaos, shortages, and massive price spikes. But then it settled down with a vengeance, as everyone who’d ever wanted to buy this stuff had bought this stuff, and demand plunged.
And so it went with demand for PCs and laptops, that had been massively boosted by the shift to working-from-home and to learning-from-home in 2020 and in 2021. And now is hangover time.
Global shipments of PCs – includes desktops, laptops, and workstations, but not tablets and servers – plunged by 29% in Q1, after having plunged by 28% year-over-year in Q4, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).
The number of units shipped plunged to 56.9 million in Q1 2023, from 80.2 million units in Q1 2022. Shipments were also well below the pre-pandemic first quarters of 2019 (59.2 million units) and 2018 (60.6 million units).
Though inventory has come down some, it remains high. “Even with heavy discounting, channels and PC makers can expect elevated inventory to persist into the middle of the year and potentially into the third quarter,” IDC said.
Apple’s global shipments of Macs plunged 40.5%, according to IDC, out-plunging with ease the other four of the big PC makers. During a February earnings call, Apple said that Mac revenues – so that’s unit sales times prices – would see a double-digit decline in Q1.
Apple global market share dropped from 8.6% in Q1 2022, to 7.2% in Q1 2023. Data via IDC:
|Company||Q1 shipments, million units||YoY % change||Q1 Market Share|
Prices of PCs have dropped from the crazy stuff going on in 2020 and 2021. The Consumer Price Index for computers, peripherals, and smart home assistants spiked during the buying binge in 2020 and peaked in September 2021. Then they began to soften. By May 2022, the index fell on a year-over-year basis, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By December 2022, the index had fallen 9.1% from the peak in September 2021.
In January and February, the CPI for computers, peripherals, and smart home assistants ticked up, which left it down 7.4% from the September 2021 peak and down 5.6% from a year ago.
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