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In the Zone

Research roundup: How the pandemic will likely affect demand for PCs, 5G, WFH, services, gaming

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 04/17/2020
Blog Category: advanced-technologies

With the world working to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, the IT market will need to work hard too. Demand for PCs could fall, as could demand for IT services. 5G expansion plans will likely slow. Sony expects to sell fewer gaming devices. The only thing going up, it seems, is the number of employees working from home.

That’s some of the latest from the IT industry’s leading market watchers. Here’s your tech provider’s roundup.


Demand for PCs, especially laptops for new work-from-home employees and suddenly home-schooling children, was strong in this year’s first quarter. But don’t expect that demand to last.

That’s the sentiment over at Canalys. The firm says demand for PCs “soared” in Q1. Unfortunately, suppliers couldn’t keep pace, and PC unit shipments worldwide actually dropped by a thudding 8%.

One upshot of the sudden demand was that price was no longer customers’ main consideration. Instead, buyers were looking for speedy deliveries. For PC vendors, that was good for the bottom line. Canalys expects PC vendors to soon release Q1 financial that feature operating margins at all-time highs.

Looking ahead, Canalys analyst Ishan Dutt says, “The rest of the year looks less positive.” The reasons: Businesses won’t be spending much on office tech. Most home offices are now adequately equipped. And the recession, with many businesses going bankrupt and literally millions of workers laid off, could put many IT projects on hold.


5G expansion plans could be hurt by the pandemic too. ABI Research this week predicted that 5G network infrastructure revenue could fall this year by as much as 10%. Before the pandemic, ABI had predicted this revenue at $2.1 billion, so that 10% would mean a drop of $210 million.

What’s behind the drop? Turns out that most advanced 5G networks still rely on Tier One infrastructure vendors, and the supply chains of these vendors have been disrupted by shortages of both components and workers.

Work from home

The WFH trend is real. About 4 in 10 employees (41%) are now likely to work remotely at least some of the time, finds a new Gartner survey. That’s up from 30% before the pandemic.

To get this data, Gartner surveyed 229 HR executives on April 2. Just over half (51%) the respondents said that at least 81% of their employees were working remotely. Another 15% said they had 61% to 80% of employees working from home.

IT services

Good news, bad news: Sales of IT services and business services grew 5% last year, marking the second consecutive year of growth. But now, with the pandemic, the outlook has turned. IDC this week predicted that the services market will decline 1.1% this year, then gain back a mere 1% next year.

IDC is basing its new forecast on a projection from the Economist Intelligence Unit. It expects 2020 GDP to contract by more than 2% this year, with a sharp decline in Q1 and Q2 offset somewhat by a recovery in the year’s second half.


Sony may lower the number of PlayStation 5 devices it intends to sell this year, thanks to a mixture of price concerns and COVID-19, reports Extreme Tech.

The PlayStation 5 is widely expected to cost more than its predecessor, with the most common estimates landing at $499 to $549. (Sony hasn't released the official prices yet.)

Under the hood, Sony says, the PS5 will offer features including a high-speed SSD capable of storing 825GB, 16GB of system memory, a custom GPU with ray tracing, ultra-HD Blu-ray disc, 4K video out, and immersive 3D audio.

Sony also says the PS5 gaming device will ship in time for this year’s holiday season.


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