Laptops in a modern technology store. Department of computers in the electronics store. Choosing a laptop in the store
Image: BodnarPhoto/Adobe Stock

The first quarter of 2022 showed a downturn in worldwide PC shipments for the first time since the start of the pandemic. Eyeing desktops, notebooks, and workstations, research firm IDC estimated a decline of 5.1% versus the first quarter of 2021, while fellow firm Canalys pegged a 3% drop over the same period. The dip showed a reversal from the double-digit quarterly growth seen over the past two years.

Image: IDC

IDC blamed the downturn on supply chain and logistics issues as well as the ongoing pandemic. Both IDC and Canalys also cited weak consumer demand for PCs and geopolitical concerns amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. However, both firms pointed out that overall shipments still hit more than 80 million, a positive sign in the face of the many challenges, and the seventh consecutive quarter in which they surpassed that number.

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“The focus shouldn’t be on the year-over-year decline in PC volumes because that was to be expected,” Ryan Reith, group vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, said in a press release. “The focus should be on the PC industry managing to ship more than 80 million PCs at a time when logistics and supply chain are still a mess, accompanied by numerous geopolitical and pandemic-related challenges.”

The PC industry also enjoyed first-quarter revenues of $70 billion due in large part to rising prices amid supply-chain issues and consumer demand for more expensive computers, Canalys said. Though notebook shipments fell by 6% to 63.2 million, desktop shipments jumped by 13% to 16.8 million.

Research firm Gartner agreed that PC shipments fell last quarter, though its results differed. For the quarter, Gartner estimated shipments of 77.5 million, a 7.3% decrease from the first quarter of 2021, due in part to a huge drop in demand for Chromebooks.

Image: Canalys

“After an unprecedented Chromebook surge in 2020 and early 2021, driven by demand from the U.S. educational market, Chromebook growth has tempered,” Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner, said in a press release. “It was a challenging quarter for the PC and Chromebook market to achieve growth, as this time last year the PC market registered its highest growth in decades.”

Among the leading PC vendors, Lenovo grabbed the top spot with more than 18 million PCs shipped and a 23% market share. In second place, HP took home shipments of 15.8 million with a 20% slice of the market. Despite being the two top vendors, both Lenovo and HP saw their shipments decline for the quarter. Dell, Apple and Asus snagged third, fourth and fifth place, respectively, all of them scoring an increase in shipments for the quarter.

Despite the quarterly drop, analysts at IDC and Canalys see the PC market as healthy and expect demand and shipments to rebound.

“Even if customers are forced to delay purchases due to rising prices in the short term, a large wave of device refresh is inevitable, especially given that more than 50% of active devices are more than four years old,” Canalys principal analyst Rushabh Doshi said. “Meanwhile, commercial demand will remain strong this year even as consumer and education purchasing falters. The resumption of workplace activity at close to pre-pandemic levels coupled with hybrid and remote workers needing higher-specified PCs to maximize productivity means business IT expenditure will remain elevated in 2022.”