PC shipments soar as more people work from home

midian182

Posts: 6,005   +50
Staff member
In a nutshell: While the coronavirus has decimated many industries, some managed to weather the storm. With so many people working and studying from home, the PC market grew during the second quarter following a sharp decline in Q1.

With Intel experiencing CPU shortages and factories in China closing due to lockdown requirements, PC shipments were down between eight and twelve percent in the first quarter of the year, marking the worst quarter since 2013. But as the manufacturing plants reopened and more people began working remotely, the market saw an upturn.

Analyst firms IDC and Gartner have both reported growth in PC shipments during Q2. IDC places the increase at 11.2 percent, reaching 72.3 million units, while Gartner has it at 2.8 percent and 64.8 million units.

It's worth noting that Gartner does not include Chromebooks in its figures, whereas IDC does. Another analyst firm, Canalys, reports that notebook shipments (including Chromebooks) grew 24 percent year-on-year while desktop shipments were down 26 percent YoY. It has the global PC market growing by 9 percent in Q2.

"Notebooks have singlehandedly pulled the PC market out of depression," said Rushabh Doshi, a research director at Canalys.

As for which is the number one PC vendor, it depends on who you ask. IDC and Canalys both name HP, while Gartner places Lenovo slightly ahead. All firms agree that HP had the larger growth, over 17 percent. Apple also saw significant YoY growth, and is fourth on all analysts' tables.

The surge comes as Microsoft reported an increase in demand for PCs in April, followed by a huge increase in Windows usage in May. Windows and Devices chief product officer Panos Panay said that "over 4 trillion minutes are being spent on Windows 10 a month, a 75% increase year on year."

The question now is whether the strong performance can continue or if the looming recessions will hit the industry.

"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," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "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."

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slamscaper

Posts: 273   +80
By PC's I assume you are referring to laptops that run the Windows OS. As much as I would love to see desktop PC's survive, nearly everyone other than enthusiasts seem to be retiring their desktops for powerful laptops, Chromebooks, or in some cases smartphones. Guys at work (I'm a Machinist and CNC programmer) all keep saying all they really need is their smartphone. Even the guys that program only want to have a laptop and don't want a desktop anymore.

I can't deny that you can indeed get "real work" done on a powerful laptop, assuming of course it runs Windows 10 and is not a Chromebook (not a fan of Chromebook's because they just seem like a smartphone hooked up to a larger display).

It'll be a long time before I myself will ditch the workstation desktop with large monitors. I still believe it to be the BEST configuration for getting real work done, plus having a nice gaming platform as well. Laptops are still just secondary devices to me, but I admit they are getting so powerful that it's starting to make sense to use them as your primary device.
 

Uncle Al

Posts: 7,392   +5,830
While the laptop is getting more powerful, it simply has a few essential limitations that will cause the desktop to survive. While not the majority, there are still a lot of people that enjoy working on their computers with upgrades and other improvements and still, even today, you can build a desktop cheaper than a laptop and be assured you'll have an upgrade path in the future. I love my laptop but if I had to choose I'll take the desktop every time ....
 

Reehahs

Posts: 935   +585
People are finally succumbing to shell money out for upgrade/replacements that they ought to have done a long time ago after their old PCs couldn't cut the mustard.
 

dotnon

Posts: 36   +48
As much as I would love to see desktop PC's survive, nearly everyone other than enthusiasts seem to be retiring their desktops for powerful laptops, Chromebooks, or in some cases smartphones.
Laptops can be primary devices depending on your needs, but there will always be a market for a high-powered computing devices tethered to the mains with a large cooling capacity. Gaming, content creation, software development and data-crunching all spring to mind.

Why use a laptop when a desktop can do it faster and with better ergonomics? Separate keyboards and monitors are far better for extended periods of work, and if you tether a laptop that's half a desktop already. Many people would happily trade the ability to take the device everywhere for much higher performance, which is essentially the trade-off between the two.

So comparing desktop to laptop to tablet to smartphone makes no sense - they are different devices for different use-cases.

The worst that could happen is that the use-cases become more niche, and thus average price goes up as the low-end falls away, but I don't really see that happening either. We're ~15 years into affordable laptop territory and PCs are as affordable as they've ever been. So don't fear the demise of the desktop PC - new uses for that computing power are being found all the time.
 

slamscaper

Posts: 273   +80
So comparing desktop to laptop to tablet to smartphone makes no sense - they are different devices for different use-cases.
I agree with everything you said except this. The reason it makes sense to compare them is because the "average Joe" compares them all the time. I have heard the phrase "you can do it all on this nowadays" in reference to some average Joe telling me about how their smartphone does everything their PC used to do for them.

As I said earlier, only enthusiasts or the people that really need a proper keyboard and perhaps dual monitors (for CAD/CAM, photo and video editing, programming, etc...) really feel a NEED for desktop PC's, but even a lot of them are totally fine with using a powerful laptop and connecting it to external monitors when they absolutely need more screen real estate. I don't think the smartphone will ever replace the "PC" as we know it, because smartphones just don't have enough screen real estate, inputs, or processing power to compare. However, there IS a good chance that the IBM PC as we know it (x86 AMD64) may end up falling by the wayside completely in favor of ARM devices. When you look at progress of CPU's and SoC's in general, the ARM architecture is simply leaps and bounds ahead in terms of growth, while x86 remains a bit stagnate. Ryzen is the best thing to happen to x86-AMD64 in a long time, but IDK if it's enough to keep it around as ARM becomes the norm for so many devices.

I myself will ALWAYS prefer a traditional desktop. There will never be any changing my mind on that. But at the same time, I can see how the landscape is changing in favor of ARM based devices.
 

dotnon

Posts: 36   +48
I have heard the phrase "you can do it all on this nowadays" in reference to some average Joe telling me about how their smartphone does everything their PC used to do for them.
"All" for average Joe is arguably just browsing and communication with a bit of online banking thrown in. Smartphones excel at these, but they're just as much distinct use-cases as content creation is. I maintain that comparing different form-factors makes little sense; it's almost always obvious which one best suits a given application. The rest is down to individual means and cost-effectiveness.

Statements like:
nearly everyone other than enthusiasts seem to be retiring their desktops for powerful laptops
seem far too broad. If you'd widened it to "professionals and enthusiasts" I'd be more inclined to agree, but that's a pretty huge market, and even then it seems about 10 years too late. The trend of moving from desktops to laptops reached its peak around the time that laptops became the cheaper option (so, 2008!?).

However, there IS a good chance that the IBM PC as we know it (x86 AMD64) may end up falling by the wayside completely in favor of ARM devices.
Yeah I can agree with this, but we were talking about desktops, not x86 PCs specifically. And you seem to be assuming that all future ARM devices will be energy-efficient mobile form-factors. I don't share this view; if the x86 PC declines, it'll be because there's an open, high-performance and superior ARM workstation architecture to replace it.

You can actually buy an ARM desktop today, but superior it is not.
 

slamscaper

Posts: 273   +80
Yeah I can agree with this, but we were talking about desktops, not x86 PCs specifically. And you seem to be assuming that all future ARM devices will be energy-efficient mobile form-factors. I don't share this view; if the x86 PC declines, it'll be because there's an open, high-performance and superior ARM workstation architecture to replace it.

You can actually buy an ARM desktop today, but superior it is not.
You misunderstood me regarding the ARM statement here, which is likely my fault because I really didn't elaborate enough. What I expect to see happen (or at least thing it's very likely to happen) is that the good Ol' IBM x86/AMD64 architecture will start to fade away in favor of both power efficient AND enthusiast\Professional grade ARM chips. I think ARM can indeed compete with Intel and AMD in that sector and the fact that a big name like Nvidia may scoop them up only makes this more feasible. ARM is already supported far and wide so jumping to it for high-end desktop, workstation, and server chips isn't so much of a stretch. I mean with ARM not having to worry about power consumption, the sky is the limit. They are doing WONDERFUL even when they have to worry about power consumption.

AMD is making waves though. It may be too little too late, but I'm very interested to see where AMD is headed. They are really innovating like crazy. Eventually, if they keep it up and ARM doesn't take over completely, I think AMD is poised to actually start really eating into Intel's dominance of the server market. Intel's 7nm problems are FAR WORSE than most people are making them out to be, hence the reason they are rearranging their top guys.

Of course, you can NEVER count Intel out. They are a JUGGERNAUT and if their top guys can't get the 7nm process working you can be DAMN sure they will find people that can. Intel has been in this situation before when Athlon 64 was crushing their Netburst architecture by an order of magnitude. I mean back then AMD's performance lead was much more pronounced than it is now, since Intel still has the crown for IPC for the most part, not to mention gaming (even if it is only by a hair). Intel cannot ever be counted out. They will bring it, sooner or later. That said, they are at a critical point right now and really need to make some good moves to keep their market share.

I myself am running an OC'ed 8700K and I really have not had the itch to upgrade it. I'm much more inclined to upgrade my 1080Ti to Nvidia's new GPU when I see how well it performs in the end. The 8700K still shreds, but I'm not saying I wouldn't like a lot more threads with Ryzen 3. All I'm saying is that Intel's 8th and 9th gen CPU's are still very much viable today, even if their resale value has tanked thanks to word of mouth regarding Ryzen's success. But people that aren't super knowledgeable hear "Ryzen is the best" and that spreads, but no one really looks at what the advantages are to each platform. Only the truly informed among us understand that going either Intel or AMD will get you a great system, although AMD's will definitely edge out Intel overall. Time will tell if this gap will widen.
 
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