Hardware industry executives and analysts said the world hoarded laptops and desktops in 2020 at a level not seen since the iPhone debuted in 2007, and manufacturers are still months away from fulfilling pending orders.
Remote learning and work has transformed the computer market during the Coronavirus pandemic, which has led to an increase in smartphone sales with an increase in interest in larger devices, which has become an afterthought for iPhones and Android devices over the past decade.
Greg Prendergast, President of Pan-America at Acer Inc. For Hardware Manufacturing: “The entire supply chain has been strained like never before.
Annual global shipments of computers, the industry’s collective term for laptops and desktop computers, exceeded around 300 million in 2008 and recently decreased around 250 million. Few expected a resurgence.
But some analysts now expect to close in 2020 at around 300 million shipments, about 15% more than last year. Tablets are seeing faster growth.
By the end of 2021, installed computers and tablets will reach 1.77 billion, up from 1.64 billion in 2019, according to research firm Canalys. The virus has pressured families to expand from a single home computer to a computer per student, video player or home bound worker.
To meet the sudden demand, a large group of PC vendors in the world have added their suppliers, speeded up the shipping process, and sparked the introduction of better models to be launched next year. It was not enough.
Brindergast said Acer is absorbing the cost of transporting laptops directly to its education customers, and abandoning boats and trains to cut off freight for a month. But with assembly lines in the back, some customers have to wait four months to get shipments.
Components including displays and processors are hard to come by, analysts said, even with many factories that have long since stopped stopping viruses. They added that the sales forecast for 2021 would be higher if not for supply issues.
Ishan Dutt, a Canalys analyst, recalls a customer who told a vendor in April that any device with a keyboard would be sufficient as long as shipments arrived within a week. Dutt said that urgency has vanished, but now people want to upgrade, while maintaining pressure on the industry.
Ryan Reith, vice president of analyst firm IDC, said additional government stimulus money for schools and companies in several countries could add to the crisis through 2022.
Some of the computers that will hit the market in the next few months meet new needs. Analysts said it features better cameras and speakers for video conferencing. More models will have a cellular chip, which helps users who can access 4G or 5G mobile phone signals but not the traditional Wi-Fi network.
Sam Bord, president of computer maker Dell, said this month that the “renaissance” of the industry will soon bring devices equipped with artificial intelligence software to simplify tasks such as logging in and shutting down cameras.
Dell’s online orders from consumers increased 62% in the third quarter compared to a year ago. During Black Friday, the teams that usually ring the bells gathered at Dell’s Texas headquarters to celebrate the big sales like many others in 2020 – via Zoom from computers at home.