PC sales fall off pandemic highs as learning centres reopen, enterprise demand slows
ETtechSales of personal computers including laptops, tablets and notebooks will continue to decline in coming quarters as the market pulls back from highs fuelled by demand for remote learning and enterprise purchase over the last eight quarters, analysts said.
Multinationals including Dell, HP, Lenovo, and Apple, which continue to hold sway over the Indian personal computer (PC) market, sold a cumulative 3.9 million computers in the country in the third quarter ended September, down 11.7% decline year-on-year, according to market intelligence firm IDC.
“All segments declined except the government, which grew by 91.5% YoY (year on year) as government orders materialised, leading to strong growth for the third consecutive quarter,” IDC said in a note in mid-November. “While the desktop and workstation categories grew by 23.4% and 17.6% YoY, respectively, the notebook category declined by 19.5% YoY. The demand for notebooks has softened across segments, forcing vendors to clear inventory,” it said.
Demand for personal computers zoomed through the pandemic, after remote learning became the only medium of school education across cities and rural areas. Intermittent lockdowns and severe restrictions through the several waves of Covid-19 ensured remote learning firmly took root across metropolises as well as large cities and towns.
With schools and colleges reopening through 2022, demand has begun to soften, showing up as the first decline in eleven quarters, IDC analyst Bharat Shenoy told ET.
“We see negative momentum in the forthcoming quarters, but it’s not going to be steep,” he said. “We see a steady scale-down of the sales numbers but not down to pre-Covid levels. Over the last two years, many have understood the indispensability of personal computing devices.”
IDC’s Q3 report suggests that demand in the premium category – priced $1,000 (about Rs 80,000) and above apiece – remains strong as brands such as Apple have seen steady growth, while the reduction has been at the entry level segments.
Similarly, the commercial segments – businesses and corporate purchasers – have also shown weaknesses as enterprises get judicious on hiring, Shenoy said.
William Li, analyst at technology market analysis firm Counterpoint Research, said “expenditure adjustment” at enterprises may have weighed on the decline in personal computer purchase for employees, which is also a global trend as inflationary pressures and weakening market sentiment is pushing companies toward caution.
As the trend continues, PC brands would keep their product development and release schedules intact but focus mainly on clearing inventory, Li said.
A Counterpoint Research report suggested the decline in PC shipments in India follows a global trend on weak consumer sentiment. In the third quarter, global shipments of PCs fell 15.5% year on year to 71.1 million units following similarly strong year-on-year decline in the second quarter, Counterpoint said.
According to IDC, Indian market leader HP, with 23.9% share in the third quarter, suffered a 25% drop in shipments to the commercial sector even though it sold 940,000 pieces in the quarter.

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