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PC shipments in the US grow, despite chip shortage

Research firm Canalys found that the education and enterprise sectors drove a significant increase in PC shipments, despite delivery delays from the global chip shortage.

PC shipments rose by 17% in the second quarter, driven primarily by demand from the education and enterprise markets, a research firm reported.

The year-over-year increase occurred despite shipment delays caused by the global chip shortage, Canalys said this week. Manufacturers shipped a total of 36.8 million desktops, notebooks and tablets.

Desktop shipments increased 23% while tablet sales were nearly stagnant, with shipments down 1%, according to Canalys. Notebook shipments grew the most with a 27% increase. 

Canalys analyst Brian Lynch said the PC industry saw "massive" growth from the education and enterprise sectors. Students and knowledge workers replaced older hardware to meet the computing demands of learning and working from home.

"Even though there was a huge boom in 2020, we don't expect that level of demand to go away," Lynch said.

Tablets became less popular as educators shifted away from them, Lynch said. Although manufacturers promoted tablets as alternatives to laptops, he said people liked the feel of a single device with an attached keyboard.

Gartner recently reported worldwide PC shipment data that told a different story. Gartner, which, unlike Canalys, excludes Chromebooks and tablets, said PC sales grew 4% year over year, and that the second quarter was slower than the first. The first quarter had a 35.7% growth rate, according to Gartner.

Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa said there was no growth in notebook shipments worldwide in the second quarter, with North America showing a 6% decline. She attributed the poor showing to the global semiconductor shortage.

The chip shortage has made it difficult to build everything from the PlayStation 5 to the Chevrolet Traverse SUV. It also has been driving up PC prices and wait times.

The component shortage hit enterprises particularly hard, Kitagawa said. While consumers and SMBs will purchase any laptops they can get their hands on, enterprises require a standardization among their products and order large batches of PCs at a time.

"If you can't get the 10,000 [laptops you need], you have to wait four months," Kitagawa said.
Because the chip shortage shows no signs of slowing down, manufacturers will likely raise prices on their PCs. Kitagawa predicted the third quarter would be a slow one.

Maxim Tamarov is a news writer covering mobile and end-user computing. He previously wrote for The Daily News in Jacksonville, N.C., and the Sun Transcript in Winthrop, Mass. He graduated from Northeastern University with a degree in journalism. He can be found on Twitter at @MaximTamarov.

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