Coronavirus could lead to a decline in PC sales this year, according to IDC report

PC sales in 2020 will suffer due to coronavirus
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past two months is well aware of the impact the novel deadly coronavirus has had on everything, including the computing world.

Entire factories in China have already been forced to shut down, halting production of not just tech products, but also parts and components needed for those items. Companies like Apple have been closing retail stores due to the outbreak. And, tech trade shows and events are either getting cancelled or seeing exhibitors drop out at the last minute.

That’s not the end of it, however. As Tom’s Hardware reports, IDC’s latest forecasts predict that the COVID-19 outbreak may actually hurt the first half of 2020. 

IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, which covers everything from desktops and workstations to laptops and tablets, shows a considerable decline in PC shipments. That’s not just in the first quarter, but for the rest of 2020 as well, especially H1.

IDC predicts even bigger shipment decline

These forecasts show 6.4% and 10.3% drops in shipments of traditional PCs year-over-year in Q1 2020 and Q2 2020 respectively, as well as a 11.8% and 17.5% decline in shipments of tablets. 

Considering IDC’s November 2019 forecasts for the same quarters, which only predicted a 6.8% and 10.7% fall for Q2 2020 for traditional PCs and tablets respectively, there’s a massive difference. Though it’s also worth noting that there are other smaller factors at play, including Windows 7’s end of life.

IDC forecast

(Image credit: IDC/Tom's Hardware)

There have already been reports of a significant drop in demand due to consumers avoiding public places. But, IDC is also expecting depleted inventory in the second quarter from Q1’s production halt. 

As Linn Huang, research VP, Devices & Displays, IDC, said in a statement, "the existing inventory of components and finished goods from the first quarter will have been depleted by the second quarter.

Many critical components, such as panels, touch sensors and printed circuit boards, come out of these impacted regions, which will cause a supply crunch heading into Q2."

And, there’s still a long road ahead even after the factories reopen. "We have already forgone nearly a month of production given the two-week extension to the Lunar New Year break,” says Huang. “And, we expect the road to recovery for China's supply chain to be long with a slow trickle of labor back to factories in impacted provinces until May when the weather improves."

Michelle Rae Uy

Michelle Rae Uy is the former Computing Reviews and Buying Guides Editor at TechRadar. She's a Los Angeles-based tech, travel and lifestyle writer covering a wide range of topics, from computing to the latest in green commutes to the best hiking trails. She's an ambivert who enjoys communing with nature and traveling for months at a time just as much as watching movies and playing sim games at home. That also means that she has a lot more avenues to explore in terms of understanding how tech can improve the different aspects of our lives.