Computer Class

Zig-zagging PC and laptop sales show there’s life in the old dog yet

The pandemic hardware bonanza is over for some - but not for others, says Jason Walsh
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Image: Ryutaro Tsukata/Pexels

13 April 2022

Global PC shipments have slowed down following two years of double-digit growth, declining by 5.1% year-on-year in the first quarter of 2022 according to a report published this week by analysts IDC. 

The explosive growth seen in 2020 and 2021 has a fairly obvious correlation with the pandemic: it turns out working from home isn’t easy if your kids need the only computer in the house for online schoolwork, leaving you to gawp at spreadsheets as if through a porthole using an iPhone. Cue the corporate credit cards…

There is some good news, however. First of all, sales for early 2022 have still exceeded expectations. Secondly, at least one PC manufacturer, HP, got a nice filip.

 

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Legendary investor Warren Buffett, boss of super-conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway who is noted for his ‘value investing’ style of buying undervalued companies, bought a chunk of stock. 

And when the ‘Oracle of Omaha’ acts, the market takes notice: HP shares shot up by 15 per cent. Likely annoying a few small time investors who were quietly buying up small amounts of HP stock after having noticed it was criminally undervalued in terms of free cash flow, yes, but still interesting, as it suggests there is still money to be made in the PC hardware business  in which HP has a wide and deep footprint.

According to IDC, HP has a 19.7% market share, but in recent weeks investors have argued the company’s US business, while not an engine of growth, is stable and cash generative, and that it has room for expansion internationally.

Not everyone is seeing a sales decline, though. Apple is enjoying growth, for instance. In fifth place overall, accounting for 8.9% of sales, it has room to grow, and seemingly is doing just that. The company is now taking a bigger bite out of enterprise sales in particular.

The picture in Ireland is not one of decline, either. Gavin Tobin of Ethos said sales were far from slow. In fact, businesses in some sectors were only now catching their breath.

“There was pent up demand in some sectors, such as pharmacies and medical, that were simply too restricted or too busy during the pandemic to carry out the PC and server upgrades they needed to do,” he said.

Tablets and smartphones have revolutionised enterprise IT, but when it comes to getting things done it seems that you just can’t beat the good old PC.

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