Makers of personal computers are going to have to brace themselves for a sudden drop in sales, if Gartner Inc.’s latest forecast proves accurate.

The analyst firm said in a report today that it believes global PC shipments will decline by 9.5% in 2022 from a year earlier, with consumer demand likely to fall by 13.5%. Computer makers won’t find much reprieve trying to sell their wares to the enterprise, either, as Gartner forecasts business demand to drop by about 7.2%.

Looking at things on a regional basis, some parts of the world will see much lower demand for PCs than others. The outlook is particularly bleak in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, where Gartner says PC sales will fall by 14% compared to one year ago.

As to why this is happening, Gartner blamed a range of factors, including the global uncertainty caused by conflicts around the world, rising prices from inflation and supply problems, lockdowns in China and also the fact that some products simply won’t be available.

It’s not only PCs, though. Gartner says other device markets will suffer too. For instance, sales of tablet devices will decline by 9% this year, and mobile phone sales are expected to fall 7.1%. Overall, Gartner said it expects sales of all of these types of computing devices to slip by 7.6%.

It’s a far cry from the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which sent PC and smartphone sales through the roof. In 2021, PC shipments rose 11% compared to the year prior, while mobile phones sales jumped 5%.

Gartner analyst Ranjit Atwal told The Register he’s projecting a 30% drop in Chromebook sales this year. He elaborated on some of the reasons for the steep declines, saying inflationary pressures are squeezing margins, pushing prices up, while the impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is being felt in places such as France and Germany. As a result, people are spending less money than before and consumer electronics devices are low on their priority lists.

Looking at smartphone sales, meanwhile, Gartner said Greater China will see a decline of 18.3% this year. That will have knock-on impacts for 5G smartphone device sales, which represent the biggest driver of growth for the industry.

5G smartphone sales will fall 2% in China, Gartner predicts, having grown by a stunning 65% in 2021. As a result, Gartner is slashing its global forecast of 47% growth in 5G handsets to growth of just 29%. “The growth rate is significantly down from an expected increase of 47% at the start of the year, with a resulting loss of 95 million 5G phone shipments,” said Atwal.

On the bright side, Atwal does at least believe that 5G handset sales will increase at a faster pace in 2023. “Much of the migration to 5G will occur by default as users will replace older 4G smartphones at the end of their life cycle with 5G-compatible smartphones,” he said.

Gartner’s numbers tally with those from the rival market watcher International Data Corp., which has forecast similar declines in PC shipments.

Image: ptra/Pixabay

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