Global PC shipments declined by 7.3% in the first quarter of 2022 with Chromebooks making up most of the decline. When Chromebooks are removed, the retail PC market actually grew by 3.3%.
According to a report from research firm Gartner, worldwide PC shipments totalled 77.5 million, a 7.3% drop when compared to the first quarter of 2021. Gartner cites pandemic related supply chain issues, changes in work behaviour and slowing consumer demand as reasons for the decline. The latter was particularly evident in eastern Europe where the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused demand in the region to collapse.
The drop in Chromebook sales was attributed to slowing educational demand in the US, where Chromebooks are widely used by teachers and students.
Though the Gartner report doesn't mention gaming specifically, if one removes the impact of falling Chromebook sales, it would appear as though gaming related sales remain strong. While GPU prices have dropped, their pricing remains elevated, indicating ongoing demand for gaming PC purchases.
The report shows that Lenovo remains the best selling PC vendor by shipments, followed by HP, Dell, Apple and Asus. If you're surprised by Apple sitting back in fourth, it actually saw its sales increase by 8.6% year-over-year, spurred on by the strengths of its M1 processors. In contrast, Lenovo and HP saw declines of 12.6% and 17.8% respectively. Asus saw a whopping 20.6% growth year-over-year.
Looking at the regional results, the US saw the largest drop as a result of the weak Chromebook sales, with a fall of 16.5% year-over-year. The EMEA market declined 6.3% year-over-year largely due to the effects of the war. In Asia, excluding Japan, the PC market grew by 4.1% year-over-year largely due to growth in mobile PC sales.
In summary, the PC market was generally expected to decline after the explosion in demand over 2020 into 2021, which included the huge shift to working from home, lockdowns, furloughs and reduced travel which meant more time for home entertainment (including gaming). Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner said: “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.”
It's actually surprising to see the robustness of the market in light of continuing supply chain issues, rising fuel and logistics costs and inflationary worries. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes, as worries over interest rate rises, ongoing inflation and wage growth issues will surely affect consumer spending. There's also the war in Ukraine. It will continue to ripple geopolitically and consumer sentiment in Europe in particular will definitely have an impact the worldwide PC market.