PC sales boom and broadband routers hit by 60-week lead times
Posted on Monday, Apr 12 2021 @ 09:47 CEST by Thomas De Maesschalck
What better way to start the week with another story about chips, shipments, and shortages?
PC sales remain strong
First up, research firm IDC released preliminary data about Q1 2021 PC shipments. The company estimates sales of desktops, laptops and workstations grew 55.2 percent year-over-year. The COVID-19 pandemic is fueling massive growth for computers, traditional PC shipments in Q1 2021 totaled 83.98 million units, compared to 54.12 million in the same period a year ago.
"Unfulfilled demand from the past year has carried forward into the first quarter and additional demand brought on by the pandemic has also continued to drive volume," said Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "However, the market continues to struggle with setbacks including component shortages and logistics issues, each of which has contributed to an increase in average selling prices."
The continued resurgence in the PC market as well as increases in average selling prices (ASPs) have primarily been driven by growth in gaming, the need for higher performance notebooks in the enterprise, and an increase in demand for touchscreens within the education segment.
"There is no question when entering 2021 the backlog for PCs was extensive across business, consumer, and education," said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC's Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. "The ongoing shortages in the semiconductor space only further prolong the ability for vendors to refill inventory and fulfill orders to customers. We believe a fundamental shift has occurred around the PC, which will result in a more positive outlook for years to follow. All three segments – business, education, and consumer – are experiencing demand that we didn't expect to happen regardless of many countries beginning their ‘opening up’ process. Component shortages will likely be a topic of conversation for the majority of 2021, but the more important question should be what PC demand will look like in 2-3 years."
Some companies did a lot better than others. Apple for example saw 111.5 percent year-over-year growth in computer sales, which propelled the firm from the fifth to the fourth place in the ranking of world's biggest computer makers. Of the big PC makers, Dell performed worst with a sales increase of just 23.4 percent.
Broadband routers hit by 60-week wait times
Broadband routers appear to be hit particularly hard by the current chip shortages. A new Bloomberg report reveals router orders now face 60-week wait times -- double as long as before. No broadband Internet carrier has reportedly run out of routers completely yet, but the market has been close several times, according to the Bloomberg report.
Running out of the right router would prevent a carrier from being able to add new subscribers to its network, risking lost sales in the ever-competitive broadband market. Their supply chains have become a headache because sharp coronavirus manufacturing shutdowns a year ago were exacerbated by a prolonged surge in demand for better home broadband equipment, said Karsten Gewecke, head of European regional business for Zyxel Communications Corp, a Taiwan-based router-maker.
The supply imbalance of routers is the result of a long list of issues. First, manufacturing was hit by COVID-19 related shutdowns in China over a year ago. Then chipsets became a global bottleneck, driven by shortages of silicon wafers as well as other supply-demand mismatches, including shortages of memory and power management circuitry. It's unknown when the situation will completely be resolved but it's looking more and more like some of these shortages will carry over into 2022.
Intel explains how a CPU works
If you have some spare time to kill, Intel has some great new videos that explain how modern CPU architectures work:
About the Author
Thomas De Maesschalck
Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.