The big picture: PC shipments along with many other electronics are set for a slower than expected year. Not only is general demand down due to market saturation and slowing innovation in the case of PCs, but present delays caused by the coronavirus may reduce manufacturing capacity by as much as two-thirds.
If everything goes okay from here on in – which is not a guarantee, but is reasonably likely, according to analyst firm Canalys – then PC shipments will fall by 3.4% this year. If things continue on their path to hell and the coronavirus deals more damage, then global shipments will fall by 8.8%.
China would suffer the most in such a situation, as one would expect. In a worst-case scenario, Chinese sales will fall by 12.2%, or by 3.8% in a best-case scenario.
To put some numbers to it, the overall volume of PCs sold in 2019 was about 396 million according to Canalys. This year that could be between 362-382 million units.
The impact will be the most dramatic in Q1 and Q2, with shipments down by 10% and 9%, respectively. The numbers are still coming in for February, but manufacturing capacity could be between 30-35% of maximum in a best-case scenario and 20-25% in the worst case. Things are expected to stabilize in March if the coronavirus is dealt with, or in May if it hangs about.
As the year comes to a close, however, the market conditions will improve significantly as both demand and manufacturing capacity increase. Canalys predicts a bustling 17% year-on-year growth in Q4, followed by a gentle 0.3% growth throughout 2021.
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