Notebooks are the stars as Indian desktop PC sales fall by a third

PC sales declined 6.4% in India in 2020 — but desktop and notebook numbers tell vastly different stories.

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PC sales in India declined 6.4% in 2020, a year marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the number hides other stories too.

Shipments of desktops, notebooks, and workstations to distribution channels or end users in India declined from 11 million units in 2019 to 10.3 million in 2020, according IDC, in part because of the difficulties vendors had obtaining supplies as the pandemic affected manufacturing and logistics operations in China.

Another factor, though, is the huge order for educational PCs placed by the Electronics Corporation of Tamil Nadu (ELCOT) in 2019. Excluding its effects, PC sales in India grew in 2020.

As the country entered the first phase of lockdown in March 2020, PC vendors saw a complete halt of retail and commercial orders, resulting in a year-on-year decline in PC sales of 16.7% in the first quarter.

The second-quarter decline was steeper—down 37.3% year on year—but this, at least in part, was for another reason: an unfavorable comparison with the year-earlier quarter, when Lenovo delivered 1.1 million of the PCs ELCOT ordered. Excluding those, the PC market would have declined just 6.3% year on year in the second quarter of 2020. PC sales increased 9.2% year on year in the third quarter, and 27% in the fourth, but this was not enough to compensate for the earlier declines.

Notebooks tower over desktops in 2020

Another story hiding within the overall decline is the bumper year had by notebooks. Though sales of notebooks fell 16.8% year-on-year in the first quarter, the trend was reversed in later quarters, making 2020 the biggest year for notebook sales in India with a total of 7.9 million shipped—up 6.0% year on year, or 34.3% excluding the effect of the ELCOT deal. In particular, second-quarter notebook sales to enterprises rose 105.5% year on year as many businesses rushed to equip staff for working from home, with the trend continuing into the third quarter as enterprise notebook sales remained up 70.1% year on year.

Desktop PCs, on the other hand, saw a consistent decrease in sales throughout the year, falling 33.2% compared to 2019. 

Outlook for 2021

PC demand will continue to test pandemic-related supply chain constraints in 2021, according to Jaipal Singh, associate research manager for client devices at IDC India.

“So far, consumer demand does not seem to be abating any time soon, and enterprises also continue to place fresh orders. Additionally, many government education deals are under discussion which can set a strong foundation for 2021,” he said.

However, Singh said, “If the current supply challenges continue for some more months, it can offset the ongoing demand to some extent. Availability of the devices will not only be critical for the category growth but will play an important role in the expansion of the market in the country.”

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Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.

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