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The big picture: Worldwide PC shipments are expected to grow 14.2 percent to reach an estimated 347 million units in 2021 according to International Data Corporation. While that might sound impressive at first, the figure is actually down from the research firm’s May forecast of 18 percent growth for the full year due to sustained supply chain and logistics challenges stemming from the global pandemic.
It’s a similar story on the tablet side, as the market is also expected to grow this year, albeit at a much slower rate of just 3.4 percent.
Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, said the lengthening of the supply shortages combined with ongoing logistical issues are presenting some pretty big challenges for the industry.
That said, IDC maintains that the vast majority of PC demand is “non-perishable, especially from the business and education sectors.” In other words, the demand isn’t likely to diminish anytime soon. That’s good news for PC makers (at least in the short term), and goes against what was expected before the pandemic.
In its last pre-pandemic forecast from November 2019, IDC projected roughly 367 million units would be shipped in 2023. Today, that figure now sits just north of 500 million units.
“So how much is that compute centricity worth?” asked Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices & Displays at IDC. “A simplified view would suggest about 135 million units or 37% more than the original market forecast” Linn said.
Ultimately, IDC is expecting consumer spending to rebalance by 2025. Areas that saw lowered spending during lockdown, like travel and leisure, should grow over the coming years as spending on technology regresses. This will inevitably lead to a market slowdown, although shipments are still expected to be higher than forecasted before the pandemic.