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In the Zone

Up, up and away: PC, GPU, phone, smart-home sales all booming

Peter Krass's picture

by Peter Krass on 03/04/2021
Blog Category: devices

Now is a good time to be in hardware.

People who have held onto their jobs during the pandemic are also holding onto a lot of cash. After all, they’re not buying airplane tickets, not booking hotel rooms, not buying theater or concert tickets, not buying work clothes.

But they are buying PCs, smartphones and smart-home devices.

Plenty of PCs

PC shipments worldwide will grow 8% this year, predicts market watcher Canalys. That will mean total ships of nearly 487 million units. This rising tide will lift all PC categories: desktops, notebooks and tablets.

Notebook PCs will be the fastest-growing sector, with unit shipments rising 9.4% this year, for a total of 258.2 million units worldwide, Canalys says. Tablet shipments will rise 8.3%, the market watcher predicts, for a full-year total of 174.2 million units. And desktops shipments are forecast to rise 4.4% this year, for a global total of 64.4 million units.

Growth would be even higher if the industry wasn’t facing supply issues, Canalys adds. Some items remain on backlog, especially PCs for students and workers affected by pandemic restrictions.

“The PC industry is set to grow for years to come,” says Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi.

EMEA PCs hit new high

Looking just at PCs in the EMEA (Europe/Middle East/Africa) region, market watcher IDC believes shipments this year will be the highest ever recorded: 96.4 million units, representing a year-on-year increase of 16%.

“Lockdown durations continue beyond the expectations of many,” says IDC researcher Simon Thomas. “The unprecedented demand for personal computing devices continues in parallel.”

GPU growth

Graphical processing units are a leading indicator for the PC market, since nearly every system gets a GPU before it ships. And sales of these components are soaring.

In the fourth quarter of 2020, GPU shipments worldwide rose 12.4%, compared with the year-earlier quarter, finds Jon Peddie Research.

Looking ahead, JPR predicts that global GPU shipments will grow from 2020 to 2025 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.7%. That would mean a total of 419 million units by 2025.

Smartphones dial up

Who needs a new phone? Quite a few people. Worldwide shipments of smartphones will rise by over 11% this year, for a total of 1.5 billion units, predicts research firm Gartner.

Gartner believes 2 factors will drive the growth. One, the availability of new phones, spurring people to replace their older phones. And two, the availability of lower-end 5G phones, some retailing for as little as $200.

Last year, smartphone shipments worldwide fell by 10.5% as consumers held onto their wallets. So if the Gartner forecast holds true, that should be good news for phone companies and telco operators alike.

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How quickly 5G catches is something of an open question. But Gartner believes this could be the year, especially in China. That's where the firm predicts 5G phones will represent nearly 6 in every 10 new phones sold this year.

Smart home: looking smart

Smart-home devices have become really popular. Fully 50% of U.S. consumers now own at least one. That's according to NPD. Just a year earlier, the figure was only 35%, so that's a big leap.

What are the most commonly owned smart-home devices? They would be security cameras, security systems, garage-door openers, and smart lighting.

To get these figures, NPD recently polled more than 5,000 U.S. consumers aged 18 and older.

Looking ahead to the rest of this years, NPD predicts that smart-home shipments will rise by 9% over last year. The firm also expects some segments—including smart locks, smart entry and smart lighting—to grow at least twice that rate. Pretty smart.


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