Computer Sales Have Suddenly Sunk To Frighteningly Low Levels For All But One Company?

The vast majority of major tech companies, with the exception of Apple, have been posting record declines in overall PC sales with an industry-wide third-quarter dip of 18%.

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Computer sales plunged across the globe in the third quarter with the overall figure falling 18%, as weakness in consumer and education segments was exacerbated by cautious IT spending. Adverse macroeconomic and industry factors like high inflation, rising interest rates, and bloated channel inventories also dented the market’s momentum. The only company with positive year-over-year growth was Apple with a modest increase of 1.7% increase, according to Canalys.

Speaking about the drop in computer sales, Senior Analyst at Canalys Ishan Dutt said, “Following a slowdown in the first half of the year, the PC market has now posted a record year-on-year decline.” He added that while third-quarter shipment volume remains comparable to pre-pandemic figures, the rapid deterioration in demand across all segments is a worrying sign for vendors and stakeholders across the supply chain.

Intel and AMD are experiencing severe weakness in their PC businesses, and smaller component manufacturers are cutting production and lowering earnings forecasts. While retailers’ promotional computer sales activities have helped clear some inventory ahead of the holiday season, overall enthusiasm for PCs among has dwindled due to rising costs across other goods and services. Education deployments, which were an important new source of growth in 2021, have also been reduced as public sector funding is directed toward more immediate needs.

According to TechCrunch, notebook shipments suffered the most, posting a year-on-year decline of 19% with 54.7 million units shipped. But desktop shipments proved stronger due to less reliance on consumer spending, falling 11% year-on-year for a total of 14.7 million units. IDC had similar findings with computer sales numbers down worldwide by over 15% with comparable losses for competitors. However, there was a big difference in Apple’s gains with the firm reporting that the iPhone maker had a 40% increase in shipments.

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Meanwhile, Gartner said that worldwide computer sales were down 19.6% with comparable losses for competitors. This time the discrepancy in Apple numbers saw the figure falling 15.6% year over year. It’s hard to account for the differences in the tech giant’s numbers among the three firms, as all appear to have similar methods for tracking this information. Regardless, the overall numbers are due to an unstable global macroeconomic and geopolitical situation and softer demand from several sectors.

While supply chain issues appear to have eased somewhat, slow computer sales have led to stagnant inventory levels for many manufacturers. Interestingly, Apple seems to be enjoying M1 and M2 sales as it continues to refresh the MacBook and MacBook Air with new chips custom-built for their machines. IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani says that the easing of production in China and markdowns on older models could be the reason for the tech company’s positive quarter.

“It’s tough to speak to Canalys’s numbers,” he told TechCrunch. From IDC’s perspective, Apple’s second-quarter numbers were hurt by the lockdowns in China, therefore production increased in the third quarter. Additionally, there were also several promotions on M1-based products that helped drive volume. While it’s hard to account for the differences in the Apple numbers among the three firms, it seems like the decline in computer sales could continue for some time.