OCEAN CITY — Due to the pandemic that took the world by surprise in late March of this year the demand for notebook computers increased dramatically and unexpectedly. The need for computers grew so fast that PC makers were caught off guard and struggled to keep up with production. In a typical year the 2nd quarter is ordinarily slow for PC sales, which PC makers plan for and react by reducing their unit orders and readjust in early Q3 to ramp up production in order to meet the Fall back-to-school demand and be ready for the holiday buying season- but this year that was not the case. Just like everything else- 2020 was not a “typical” year and we have all been thrown for a loop including PC manufacturers. The fact is that it has been forecasted that the industry will sell between 300-310 million units this year and at least 285-295 million PCs in 2021. As a reference point the peak of computer sales was in 2011 where PCs and desktops sold 365 million units.
It is abundantly clear to us “techies” why PCs and laptops are so valuable and most business users of all types see them as essential business tools. However, the biggest realization, since the COVID-19 pandemic, has been that now everyone else has embraced PCs as their window-to-the-world. With computers people have been able to work, learn, play games, stream media for entertainment, and most importantly, stay close to friends and family who they could not get together with due to lockdowns and travel bans. PCs have also become the must-have tool for families with children in the home who no longer are able to attend classes in person and instead have had to move to a virtual classroom environment at home.
What is interesting for the PC industry is the resurgent interest in PCs. While the Covid-19 upward surge is tied to the pandemic, it has brought the role of PCs and laptops back into our collective thinking. This resurgence means that PC manufacturers need to continue to innovate and integrate better technologies and capabilities into their machines in order to keep their captive audience’s attention into 2021- so be on the lookout for better designs and features like even more extended battery life.
The fact that computers can be designed for every budget and capability make them the must have 2020 holiday gift. The flexibility to provide work functionality, a connection to loved ones, entertainment, and education resources make PCs and notebooks the prize of the pandemic and with no true end in sight we expect the desire for them to continue into 2021.