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Despite coronavirus-caused surge in PC demand, industry sees largest shipments drop in four years

Chinese PC manufacturer Lenovo leads the industry with a 23.9% global market share, while Apple sales fell over 20%.

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In the first quarter of 2020, the worldwide coronavirus crisis has caused severe delays in shipments of PCs, leading to the largest year-on-year (YoY) fall in shipments (8%) since 2016, despite soaring demand driven by remote work and education, a report from research institution Canalys shows.

PC vendors shipped 53.7 million units worldwide in the past quarter, a figure that includes desktops, notebooks, and workstations, the report found.

Among manufacturers, Chinese firm Lenovo’s shipments were down 4.4% YoY to 12.8 million units, topping the list with a market share of 23.9%, followed by US-based Hewlett-Packard (HP) with 11.7 million units shipped during the same period and a market share of 21.8%, but with shaper annual decline of 13.8%. Dell took the third position, with 10.4 million delivered units which represent a 19.6% market share, up 1.1% YoY.

Apple, and Acer, followed with a share of 6.0%, and 5.8%, respectively. Among the top five PC vendors, Apple was impacted the hardest, as its shipments fell by over 20% to 3.2 million units.

“PC makers started 2020 with a constrained supply of Intel processors, caused by a botched transition to 10nm nodes,” said Rushabh Doshi, research director at Canalys. “This was exacerbated when factories in China were unable to reopen after the Lunar New Year holidays.”

A process node refers to guidelines on the size of a given chip’s features in semiconductor manufacturing, measured in nanometers (nm). A step down in size is generally seen as a step up in technology, but Intel’s long-awaited transition from 14nm to 10nm CPUs has been fraught with delays and lackluster results.

Meanwhile, the slowdown in supply met with accelerated demand, as social distancing and quarantine implemented measures lead millions of enterprises and schools to take their activities online.

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

Moving into the second quarter, production constraints in China have eased. At the end of  March, Levono said one of its plants, based in Wuhan, where the outbreak originated, would be able to resume full production capacity by early April. Foxconn, Apple’s main manufacturing partner for the iPhone, has also resumed its manufacturing in China.