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Analysts: PC Shipments Beginning to Slow After Two Years of Record Pace

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It’s been one heck of a ride for the PC industry over the past two years. With everyone stuck at home during the pandemic the industry saw record breaking sales quarter-after-quarter. As a person who writes articles about this, I can’t even count the number of times I wrote about it. However, as we ease into 2022 the tide might be starting to turn. According to industry analysts at IDC, Q1 2022 sales were still quite good, but they declined 5.1 percent from January through March. This is a sharp reversal of a trend that saw double-digit growth in the sector every quarter for the past two years.

News of the slowdown comes via IDC’s quarterly report on the PC industry. The company’s Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker states that even though shipments declined, it “doesn’t mean the industry is in a downward spiral.” As an example, vendors still shipped 80.5 million PCs in the first quarter. That marks the seventh quarter in a row the number has exceeded 80 million. The last time that happened was way back in 2012. For a walk down memory lane, in 2012 a high-end PC was rocking an Intel 3770K quad-core CPU. It was mounted to an LGA1155 socket with DDR3 memory. The GPU de jour was an AMD HD 7970 “Tahiti” card built on the 28nm process. If you were really ballin’ you’d get two of them for Crossfire. Another classic upgrade was using an OCZ Vertex 4 128GB SSD for your boot drive. But we digress… (preferably before any more rumination on the joy of owning an OCZ product – Ed)

The report highlights the fact that the industry moved a ton of PCs despite the supply chains still being a mess. “Even as parts of the market slow due to demand saturation and rising costs, we still see some silver linings in a market that has reached an inflection point towards a slower pace of growth,” said Jay Chou, research manager for IDC’s Quarterly PC Monitor Tracker. Chou noted that despite the chip shortage and the supply chain situation “higher end consumer demand also has held up.” Overall, the report states, notebooks saw a drop year-over-year while desktop sales grew slightly.

The top PC vendors remained unchanged from the last quarter of 2021. Lenovo is still the leader with 22.7 percent of the market. HP is nipping at its heels though with 19.7 percent market share. These two are followed by Dell and Apple, with Asus and Acer tied for fifth place overall. It’s interesting to note only Dell, Apple, and Asus saw year-over-year growth compared to Q1 2021.

Despite the somewhat surprising turnaround in PC sales, IDC’s year-end analysis of 2021 predicted it with scary accuracy. We described it at the time with the following caption: “IDC predicts the PC market will slow considerably in 2022.” This slowdown is also arriving as GPU continue to drop, so maybe we’re starting to see it with our own eyes. GPUs are generally in-stock as well, which is also a recent development.

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