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CONTEXT Research Updates deliver timely insights on key market segments.

  • PCs
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  • 3D Printing

PC Research update


PC growth unabated in January 2021 as pandemic continues to drive mobile demand

London, 26 February 2021 – The strong growth in PC sales seen in 2020 continued unabated at the start of 2021 as demand for mobile PCs remained high, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Displays


Q4 sees another record of monitor sales

London, 5 February 2021 – Sales of desktop monitors achieved record growth of 33% in Q4 2020 driven by demand in consumer channels and from small and medium business (SMB) resellers according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Imaging


Distributors see boom in ink-tank printer sales during COVID-19 pandemic

London, 05 Aug 2020 – Western Europe’s distributors sold an unprecedented number of ink-tank printers in the second quarter of 2020, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Enterprise


Consumer channel drives client SSD growth

London, 23 October 2020 – Although the overall client SSD market has seen low demand during the pandemic, lockdowns and home working have had a positive effect on consumer-channel sales, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


3D Printing


China and Desktop 3D Printer markets lead the way for longer U-shaped recovery

London, 14 Oct 2020 – Latest CONTEXT market intelligence highlights varying impact of the global pandemic on the 3D printer industry in Q2 2020




PC growth unabated in January 2021 as pandemic continues to drive mobile demand

London, 26 February 2021 – The strong growth in PC sales seen in 2020 continued unabated at the start of 2021 as demand for mobile PCs remained high, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

Despite the trading period in January 2021 being two days short of January last year, PC volume sales through Western Europe’s largest distributors increased by +20% year-on-year during the month, following a rise of +21% in Q4 2020. Growth was once more driven by notebooks, sales of which were up by +46% as distributors continued to fulfil large tenders from education and public administration. In addition, the extension of lockdown measures in many countries meant that demand for devices which enable working from home, e-learning, and connecting to friends and family stayed high.

The picture for desktops was, once again, entirely different: following a −21% drop in Q4 2020, volume sales declined by −38% year-on-year in January.

Commercial channels, which include sales to the education segment, saw the greatest increase in laptop volumes. In January, notebook sales to these channels were up by +59% year-on-year, while those of desktops dropped by −47%.  In consumer channels, the performance of notebooks was weaker, growing by +28%, but that of desktops was better, growing by +2% when compared to the same month in the previous year.

Countries with high institutional education demand saw the strongest notebook growth. These included the UK (+120%), Italy (+106%) and Spain (+58%). In France, notebook sales grew by +24% but there was a −2% drop in Germany, a country which was heavily impacted by the product supply issues that remained a challenge across the region and continued to cause fluctuations in performance. Some of the growth registered in early 2021 was driven by fulfilment of orders placed much earlier in 2020. Supply issues are expected to continue to affect the market for quite some time – at least for the first half of the year.

Y/Y PC volume growth: Western European distribution

Y/Y notebook volume growth: Western European distribution




Q4 sees another record of monitor sales

London, 5 February 2021 – Sales of desktop monitors achieved record growth of 33% in Q4 2020 driven by demand in consumer channels and from small and medium business (SMB) resellers according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

Sales of desktop monitors began to accelerate at the start of the pandemic. They slowed briefly in the summer but picked up in September and kept growing throughout Q4, showing that demand was much higher than expected and has not yet been met. Investments in homeworking equipment seem to have continued and, given fourth-quarter holiday sales, gaming monitors saw even more interest than earlier in the year.

Desktop monitors: Volume sales by target customer, WE distribution

 

The record growth was due to sales of both consumer and business models. Due to lockdowns and office closures, sales to corporate resellers saw another quarter of decline, falling by -6% year-on-year. By contrast, sales to SMB have been recovering, growing by +18% in the same period, and those to retail have more than doubled. However, the need for homeworking and study devices has done more to drive growth than the special campaigns and sales that usually spur sales this time of the year. In fact, the backlog of orders was so high that there was no real need for vendors to incentivise customers.

When it comes to gaming or premium business models, where competition intensifies, the reasons for increased sales are slightly different. For gamers looking for models with refresh rates higher than 144 Hz, the choice keeps growing while prices keep going down. For homeworkers, it is all about specifications like ethernet input that enables monitors to become display and docking station in one, USB-C ports, good quality cameras or ergonomic features: distributors saw significant increases in sales of models with these features in Q4 2020. The majority of vendors are currently facing supply issues – especially for mainstream screen sizes like 21.5″, 23.8″ and 27″ – and this has changed the portfolio of monitors sold: the growth in sales of larger models, curved-screen devices or even small portable monitors may not necessarily reflect customer preferences but the choices they currently have.

Desktop monitors: Volume share by specification, Q4-20 vs Q4-19,

WE distribution

 

 

With sales through Western European distributors growing +23% year on year in 2020, Q4 closed one of the best-ever years for the desktop monitor market. This increase has shown that the importance of good screens for home offices was previously underestimated. Investment in homeworking devices happened at different paces in different countries so, although overall growth will probably slow down, demand should still remain high in those parts of Europe where sales picked up later or more slowly and, as a result, Q1 2021 will show increases compared to the first months of 2020 that may carry on into Q2. However, the extent to which the market grows will really depend on the level of supply as this remains challenging and poses major obstacle for many vendors. 

 

 




Distributors see boom in ink-tank printer sales during COVID-19 pandemic

London, 05 Aug 2020 – Western Europe’s distributors sold an unprecedented number of ink-tank printers in the second quarter of 2020, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

The increase reflects the continued growth of a technology that is relatively new in Europe. Marketed as a smart investment that delivers long-term savings, ink-tank printers appeal to users wishing to equip their homes with durable hardware. Control measures associated with the pandemic have, therefore, created conditions that favour adoption of these devices. Price increases resulting from a shortage of traditional consumer inkjet printers, and shortages of ink cartridges, have also encouraged uptake of ink-tank models.

The steadily increasing market share and the strong upward month-by-month sales trend suggest that ink-tank printers may well end the year with a higher share than last year’s 4.9%. In the second quarter of 2020, the number of traditional ink-cartridge printers sold fell year-on-year while ink-tank sales saw dramatic increases.

Ink-tank printers accounted for 6.6% of sales of inkjet units sold in Western Europe in the first half of 2020 (up +2.3 pts compared to the same period last year), and for 15.7% of inkjet revenue, with sales of ink-tank printers through the distribution channel increasing by +59.8%. This overall figure disguises the details of the trend: unit sales climbed throughout the spring, with year-on-year growth rates climbing from -11.1% in January to +89.6% in June.

Graph 1: Printer volume sales: Y/Y change by category – WE distribution



The year-on-year performance of ink-tank printers in the major Western European markets exploded in the second quarter, coinciding with lockdowns. In the first quarter, the number of units sold in Germany was down by -30.3% on the previous year; in the second quarter they were up by +110.7%. In the UK, they moved from +19.4% in the first quarter to +142.5% in the second; and in Italy from +69.5% to +149.3%. There was also a change in unit sales in France: from -14.9% to +70.3%.

 

Graph 2: Ink-tank printer volume sales: Y/Y change by country – major WE economies
 



The geographical spread of ink-tank printer sales in Western Europe largely follows the size of the market in each country with four of the Top 5 heading the list. Germany took 25.2% of ink-tank sales, representing a fall from its even bigger share of 36.2% in the first six months of 2019. Italy followed with 19.3%; the UK took 13.7%; and Spain 11.2%. Whilst the UK’s share held steady, Italy and Spain both increased their shares compared with the same period last year. France took only 2.7% of sales compared with 3.7% in the first half of 2019 – a smaller share than the other major countries in both years.

The mix of brands is steadily diversifying as more vendors explore Europe’s potential. Epson, an early champion of the technology, took 79.2% of the market in the first half of 2020; 24.1% of its inkjet units were ink-tank models, and they provided 41% of its revenues for the category. Other major vendors are making inroads: HP’s and Canon’s shares of the ink-tank market increased in H1 2020 compared with the first half of 2019 (8.8% and 5.9% share respectively).

Although the pandemic has encouraged uptake, there are other positive indicators – a diversifying share of the market across countries and across vendors – suggesting that ink-tank models are poised to steadily replace traditional consumer inkjet printers in Western Europe.




Consumer channel drives client SSD growth

London, 23 October 2020 – Although the overall client SSD market has seen low demand during the pandemic, lockdowns and home working have had a positive effect on consumer-channel sales, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

 

                                     Client SSDs: Year-on-year Revenue Growth



The impact of the pandemic on the client SSD market is clear when we look at revenues: growth in the first quarter has been followed by two quarters of year-on-year revenue declines. However, some of the strong demand in Q1 2020 was a result of the news of supply disruption as China and Korea felt the first effects of COVID in January. Sales were up as resellers aimed to put themselves in a position to overcome any problems with PC component supply chains.

                          Client SSDs: Revenue Share by Type of Customer



The CONTEXT distribution panel shows the dynamics of the pandemic-impacted client SSD market. Revenues from consumer-oriented customers – retail chains and consumer etailers – are growing by +7.2% year-on-year whereas those from the business channel – small and medium resellers and business-focused etailers – have dropped by more than -20% compared to the same period last year. This is not unexpected given that business closures and economic slowdowns are affecting the ability of small and medium businesses to invest in computer equipment while a workforce based at home – and negotiating technology access with other members of their family – is purchasing more home-PC components.

                               1TB NVMe Revenue Share by Type of Customer


 

Digging further into the client SSD market data, we discover that the greatest growth in Q3 2020 is in sales of 1TB NVMe products. In fact, with +39% additional revenue year-on-year, this is the only type of SSD with increased sales; 63.9% of them were through the consumer channel, up from 52.9% a year ago. These products are not the cheapest – an average 1TB SATA SSD, for example, costs 30% less – and this tells us that the people driving up sales care more about performance than price. It seems that gamers and geeks spending more time than usual at home during the pandemic have been buying high-spec SSDs and so having a significant effect on the nature of the client SSD market.


                                         Client SSD Price per GB (Euro)



 

Another interesting SSD data set is the price per GB, which is playing its part in the decline of revenues over the third quarter. The cost of 1GB of storage has fallen -12% between Q3 2019 and Q3 2020. Capacity demand is, therefore, not as low as the revenue drop suggests: distributors report that it has actually been flat year-on-year. The Q1 spike in price per GB is a result of the high demand seen during that quarter, and the sharp drop in Q3 could be a consequence of resellers reducing prices to get rid of excess stock following low demand in Q2 and Q3.

We expect the consumer channel will continue to drive the client SSD market over the coming quarters as some countries in Europe reimpose lockdowns. However, the decrease in the price per GB will certainly make it easier for financially uncertain businesses to make greater investments than in the last two quarters and this will also have a positive effect on SSD sales.




China and Desktop 3D Printer markets lead the way for longer U-shaped recovery

LONDON, 14 Oct 2020 – The global 3D printing market saw a+24% second quarter sequential rebound in domestic unit shipments of Industrial-class printers in China, and a global surge of +68% in Personal desktop printer shipments, according to latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company. These trends give hope to an otherwise depressed 3D printer market that saw hardware revenues fall by -27% from a year ago.

Shipments of high-end and mid-range 3D printers (that is, those in the $100K+ Industrial and $20K–$100K Design price classes) stalled significantly as businesses in the West put capital expenditures on hold and large parts of key industries were still paused. However, demand for Professional price-class printers ($2.5K–$20K) remained strong as people continued to work from home. Hobby-level Personal printers (<$2.5K) were also in demand and shipments of these are no longer hampered by supply-chain limitations now that production in China has resumed. Aggregate revenues from new printer shipments rose marginally from Q1 to Q2 (by +5%) but were down -27% from Q2 2019. Industrial printer sales accounted for 62% of global finished-good revenues in the period.

                   Chart 1: Global 3D Printer Shipment Revenues by Price Class



Industrial price class (≥ $100K)


As China came back on-line in Q2 2020, so too did demand for Industrial printers. Indeed, many Chinese vendors reported seeing shipments not just rise compared to Q1 but also witnessed even higher shipment rates than a year ago. While overall shipments improved slightly from Q1 to Q2 thanks mostly to a bounce back in China, they remained very low in Western markets resulting in total shipments in the class down -38% from a year ago. This portion of the market was already facing negative headwinds at the end of 2019, prior to the onset of the pandemic, but vendors are noting accelerated interest following the important role that 3D printing played in the heart of pandemic shutdowns.

Almost all non-Chinese top 20 Industrial printer companies saw sizable year-on-year declines in the number of units shipped – with the notable exception of metal machine producer SLM Solutions. China’s UnionTech, Farsoon and HBD saw not only a sequential rise in shipments but also saw shipment totals actually greater than last year. Germany’s SLM Solutions has come back nicely from their reset year last year and were shipping against orders placed prior to the onset of the pandemic. While some vendors reported a slight sequential rebound in shipments, most saw a double-digit year-on-year drop in shipments from a year ago.

Design price class ($20K–$100K)

With 78% of this class of printers being shipped to Western countries, and with US and European economies effectively on hold throughout at least April and May, this segment faced significant challenges. Key end-markets, such as the dental industry, were largely closed down, severely impacting demand. As Western markets slowly began to re-open in June, demand rebounded slowly but unit-volume shipments were still down -34% on the previous year. The leaders in this segment, 3D Systems and Stratasys, accelerated layoffs in response to the pandemic and used the period to reset strategy.

 

Chart 2: Industrial and Design 3D Printer Shipments and

Y/Y Growth by Region



 

Professional price class ($2.5K–$20K)

 

The strong Q1 demand for this type of printer, which arose from new homeworking scenarios, continued into Q2. Buyers are looking for ever-more professional products with even more robust feature sets. This has pushed average street prices up and allowed printer revenues to rise nicely even while shipments are only marginally better than a year ago. Weighted average prices for these printers have risen +15% since the beginning of 2019 making this the only price class to see year-on-year revenue growth (of +7%) in Q2 2020.

 

Personal price class (≤ $2.5K - excludes DIY kit printers)

 

Many products in this class either come directly from China or are highly dependent on supply chains associated with the country. While demand from quarantined hobbyists increased in Q1 2020, supplies were limited and, thus, new-product shipments were significantly hindered. This changed in Q2 when Chinese production came back online leading to a quarter-on-quarter shipment surge of +68%. While, in recent quarters, the finished-good market has been losing share to the growing kits market (dominated by Chinese players like Creality and which also saw great sequential shipment growth), Q2 was the first period since the beginning of 2018 in which non-kit printer shipments grew year-on-year, up +2% from Q2 2019.

 

Looking forward

 

While the market for new printers in a few key areas was challenging, the demands made of the installed base of printers in all price ranges increased as they were used to create pandemic-related items ranging from PPE to nasopharyngeal swabs. While this could not fully compensate for lost demand from closed markets (such as consumer products, education and the dental and automotive industries), it clearly demonstrated the flexibility of the technology showing how it can be leveraged to help overcome supply-chain disruptions and could, in future, be so used across many industries. While recovery in the West is proving to be slower than some had anticipated, vendors have been reporting renewed interest in the technology throughout Q3 – from new sectors as well as known markets. They are hopeful that this interest will turn into Q4 orders: the final quarter typically accounts for 29%+ of each year’s shipments but it is now anticipated that it will account for 36%+ of those in 2020. The challenge to fulfilling these expectations is that key in-person events such as Germany’s FORMNEXT, where many large deals have historically been finalised, remain virtual as the West continues to deal with the pandemic.

 

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