Why are PC sales falling and when should we expect market to recover?

October 24, 2022  14:45

The demand for PCs has fallen noticeably in recent months – and continues to do so.

According to the estimates of some experts, the demand for computers today is at a record low, approximately at the level of the mid-1990s. Moreover, specialists have no grounds for optimistic forecasts for the near future. At least in 2023, the market situation is unlikely to improve.

The anti-record of the decade

According to Gartner, the global market for personal computers (including desktops, notebooks, nettops, and other devices) in Q3 2022 decreased by 19.5% compared to the same period in 2021. This is the most significant decline in the last decade, a kind of anti-record in this area.

Sales fell at all manufacturers, but HP seems to have been the hardest hit, selling 5 million fewer computers this year than last year. The company's revenues fell 4.1% year over year to $14.7 billion.

The company IDC provides similar data: according to their experts, in 2022 the world market of personal computers will shrink by 12.8%, and the supply of computers for that year will be 305.3 million units. The supply of tablets, according to the company, too, will decline by 6.8% (to 156.8 million units).

The most significant decline in the PC market over the past 10 years was recorded in 2015: then sales declined by 10.4%. From 2012 to 2018, the traditional PC market did not register growth in annual terms, but in 2019, IDC specialists noticed an increase in PC shipments by 2.7%.

And in 2021, the global PC market showed a 15% rise: this is considered the best result in the last 10 years.

In Russia, personal computer sales for 6 months of this year fell by 20% compared to the same period last year. According to Marvel Distribution, only 1.8 million PCs were sold in Russia in the first half of the year, 20.3% less than in the same period last year.

Why is the PC market falling?

Experts explain the fall of the market for several reasons, among which an important place belongs to the level of inflation, the weakening of the global economy, and the effect of a high base. According to them, during the COVID-19 pandemic, people bought up a huge amount of equipment, and now there is no need to buy new ones. For the same reason, experts also predict a decline in smartphone sales.

As for Russia, according to Vedomosti, the most noticeable decline was in sales of models of American manufacturers HP Inc. and Dell, which in the past led the Russian market. The situation changed after the events in Ukraine: some direct purchases became unavailable, and problems with parallel imports appeared as well, especially since some transport companies refused to cooperate with Russia.

In Q2 2022, the drop in the global PC market could have been facilitated by the mass withdrawal of manufacturers from the Russian market. However, the results of Q3 are unlikely to have been affected by low sales in Russia.

When can we expect the market to recover?

According to the estimates of many experts, the recovery of the market should not be expected before 2024. In 2023, the PC and tablet market will continue to shrink - by 2.6% in total.

But it is unlikely that in 2024 it will change much. According to Lynn Huang, vice president of research at Devices & Displays, IDC, PC sales are unlikely to reach the level of the coronavirus pandemic. He predicts that from 2022 to 2026, the PC and tablet market will cumulatively grow at an average of 0.8% per year, with the best sales performance coming from devices for the corporate and small business sectors and the worst from devices for the education and government sectors.

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