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(Credit: HP)
After two years of record profits in the PC market, we’re seeing in real-time the old adage of “what goes up, must come down.” All of 2022 has been brutal for PC manufacturers, but they held a glimmer of hope that the holiday shopping season might turn things around. After all, we have never had as much new hardware to choose from as we did this year. However, it was not meant to be. The holiday numbers were not only bad but worse than expected. Taken as a whole, over time, the continued decline of shipments indicates the PC boom that was fueled by COVID-19 lockdowns is officially over.

The latest numbers are from IDC’s quarterly report with data from more than 90 countries. For the 4th quarter, PC shipments totaled 57.2 million units; a drop of 28.1% from Q4 last year. This number is similar to the amount of PCs shipped at the end of 2018 when Intel was struggling with supply chain issues. Previously in Q3, shipments declined 13.1%, so the drop-off in the final quarter was more than double that amount. Despite the sluggish sales, shipment totals for the whole year were still above pre-pandemic levels at 292.3 million computers. In 2019 there were 261 million PCs shipped according to both IDC and Gartner.

Sluggish Holiday PC Sales Suggest Pandemic Boom Is Officially Over

The report notes that average selling prices (ASP) of computers were slashed last quarter due to excess inventory. However, that was not enough to overcome the headwinds facing the industry right now. That includes both economic uncertainties and people who bought a new PC during the pandemic or upgraded their existing machine (*looks in mirror*). Since these issues will continue into 2023, the analysts describe the consumer PC industry this year as a “wildcard.”

Despite an uncertain outlook in the near term, IDC’s analysts believe things will begin to turn around in late 2023, with continuing momentum into 2024 due to several factors. The biggest is Microsoft will be ending support for Windows 1o Pro and Home in October 2025. In advance of that, many people will likely go out and buy a new PC. Also by that time, people who upgraded during the pandemic will be ready for a new computer. Maybe video card prices will have reached sane levels by then.

One interesting statistic from the report is out of all the PC manufacturers, only Apple showed growth for the year. Although, it was pretty meager at just 2.5%. That compares to overall losses across the board totaling 16.5% for the industry. HP was hardest hit year-over-year with a 25.3% decline in shipments. Lenovo held onto its top spot with a 23.3% market share.

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