IDC sees 12% drop in PCs and tablets despite better supply chain

laptop user
IDC says the work and study from home impact on PC and tablet purchases will be short-lived, contrary to what some other analysts believe. (Pixabay)

Analyst firm IDC said Thursday that the global supply chain for tablets, laptops and PCs  has mostly returned to normal levels of production even though the company once again lowered its forecast for 2020 to reflect a decline in the category of 12.4%.

At that level of decline, global shipments for tablets , laptops, desktop PCs and workstations will reach just above 360 million units for all of 2020.  The biggest decline for such devices will come in the consumer segment in the third quarter, down by more than 20% when compared to third quarter 2019, IDC noted.

The company had estimated a decline for the combined segment of 9% for all of 2020 back in March when COVID-19 mainly affected China and had a November forecast of a 6.8% decline before anybody knew about the virus.

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Even with the supply chain returning to normal levels, IDC said logistics remain a major hurdle with fewer flights that often carry cargo and lower availability of ocean freight. Closed retail stores have also lessened demand.

Some economists see an uptick in demand for PCs and tablets with more work from home (WFH), but IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani said the increase will be short-lived.  “We’ve all seen news about increased demand for WFH and while we see that too, our view is slightly different,” he said in an email to FierceElectronics.  “Looking ahead, we believe WFH will become part of most businesses as they need to ensure continuity and that will likely accelerate the transition from desktops to notebooks.”

But in the second half of 2020, he said that small and medium businesses will struggle to keep the lights on, while consumers will focus on buying staples rather than seeking new computing devices.

Over five years, IDC projects a small compound annual growth rate of 1.3%, which would have been 1.9% if slate tablets were removed.   “The decline in slates is dragging down the entire CAGR,” Ubrani said.

Earlier in the week, analyst firm Gartner forecast that 368 million units of PCs and tablets would ship in all of 2020, down about 9.4% from 2019 levels.  That compares roughly to IDC’s report of 360 million units and a 12.4% decline for all of 2020.

RELATED:  COVID-19 forces phone, PC decline of nearly 2 billion units

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