Laptops demand ebbs as pandemic eases

NEW DELHI : The pandemic-led shift to remote work, which fuelled massive demand for PCs and laptops in the last two years, is starting to fade.

Analysts and IT industry experts expect sales to weaken further due to a slump in consumer demand driven by inflationary pressures. This, in turn, will force brands to cut prices of consumer laptops and offer either discounts or bundled offers for commercial deals.

“PC refresh happens in cycles. We are past the highest cycle which was during covid-19. That sort of growth cycle will not happen again. The double-digit decline will continue for the next 2-3 quarters,” said Tarun Pathak, research director at Counterpoint Research.

PC shipments in India fell by 11.7% in the September quarter in the first decline after eight straight quarters of growth, according to data issued by research firm the International Data Corporation (IDC) in November. Navkendar Singh, associate vice president, devices research at IDC, said brands will be forced to cut prices to clear their inventories.

“Businesses too are holding back some spending,” said Ranjit Atwal, senior director analyst at Gartner. Enterprises and businesses buying employees laptops for hybrid or remote work was one of the main drivers for the market in the last eight quarters.

To be sure, experts believe that growth from the business-to-business (B2B) segment will return later in the year. “You might see a lot of B2B type bundling offers like back to school or work. Positioning of PCs will change and will be more B2B oriented. Consumer segment will remain under pressure as we are past that covid-induced demand curve,” said Pathak.

“The 2020-21 growth levels are not sustainable. Though shipments will continue to fall, it will not go back to the pre-pandemic lows,” said Singh.

To be sure, brands aren’t giving up just yet either. Sudhir Goel, chief business officer, Acer India, said PCs are still under penetrated in India as compared to mobile phones. “Hence, there is still a lot of potential for PCs to grow with segments like gaming, government, BFSI, and first-time buyers,” he said.

Counterpoint’s Pathak said premium laptops, including Apple’s MacBooks, will remain insulated from the slump in demand. 

He also said that the market weakness will not impact India’s IT hardware manufacturing plans, which is expected to get a boost at the Union budget. 

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