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Lockdown leads to soaring demand for laptops


Demand for PCs, laptops and tablets has skyrocketed in recent weeks as the coronavirus pandemic has forced thousands of people to work or study from home.

At the same time, however, supply chain constraints related to COVID-19 mean that retailers and distributors have struggled to restock.

In the first quarter of the year, vendors shipped 53.7 million desktops, notebooks and workstations, according to the latest research from Canalys. Demand also increased for related products, including headphones, webcams, printers and monitors, as well as office, collaboration, virtual desktop, remote access and security software.

“The PC industry has been boosted by the global COVID-19 lockdown, with products flying off the shelves throughout Q1,” commented Rushabh Doshi, research director at Canalys. “But PC makers started 2020 with a constrained supply of Intel processors, caused by a botched transition to 10nm nodes. This was exacerbated when factories in China were unable to reopen after the Lunar New Year holidays.

“The slowdown in supply met with accelerated demand, as businesses were suddenly forced to equip a newly remote workforce, placing urgent orders for tens of thousands of PCs. Children, too, needed their own PCs, as schools closed and lessons went online.

“The urgency of demand from both the consumer and commercial sectors, combined with the shortage of supply, meant device cost was no longer the key consideration. Instead, speed of supply was the most important factor.”

A separate report from IDC suggests that demand for notebook computers and tablets in Europe grew by about one-third as COVID-19 lockdowns were imposed.

But disruption to the supply chain in China cut deliveries into the European market by approximately 15-20% in the first quarter.

“More than 90% of the portable PCs and tablets imported into Europe are manufactured and assembled in China,” said Malini Paul, research manager at IDC EMEA.

“As we look into the second quarter, we see the production sector in China is largely back on its feet but disrupted international logistics and border closures in Europe are contributing to extended delivery lead times.”

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