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CONTEXT Research Updates deliver timely insights on key market segments.

  • PCs
  • Displays
  • Imaging
  • Enterprise
  • 3D Printing

PC Research update


Mobile PC revenues continue to exceed 2019 levels as newer specs surge in popularity

London, 30 September 2021 – Revenue sales for notebooks and tablets continued to beat 2019 levels over the summer, with Wi-Fi 6-equipped notebooks performing particularly well, according to the latest data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Displays




London, 9 April 2021 – Sales of large-format displays (LFDs) in Western Europe (WE) during 2020 were significantly affected by the pandemic and there have been little signs of recovery in early Q1 2021, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company. Declining sales reflected the impact of lockdown measures as LFDs are heavily used in public settings. On the positive side, sales of interactive displays remained relatively stable and have begun to grow in the last few months.


Imaging


Printer revenues fall over summer due to price increases and supply issues

London, 22 September 2021 – Printer sales revenues across Europe have slowed over the summer – due to pressures on price, supply and logistics – but a September rebound is on the cards, according to the latest data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Enterprise


Infrastructure market recovery impacted by shortages and delays

London, 01 October 2021 – The European infrastructure market, which includes revenues from sales of servers, storage and networking, is not growing as quickly as expected in Q3 2021 due to component shortages and supply delays, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


3D Printing


Global Industrial 3D Printer Shipments accelerated in H1 but still not back to pre-Covid levels

Fantastic year-on-year growth of 61% and +43% in Industrial and Design price-class printer shipments in Q2 2021 but levels still -10% and -5% below those of Q2 2019

London, 12 October 2021 – New 3D printer shipments continued to accelerate in Q2 2021 in both long-standing verticals, such as dental and aerospace, and new markets eager to explore technologies which can help mitigate current and future supply-chain hiccups, according to latest market insights by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.




Mobile PC revenues continue to exceed 2019 levels as newer specs surge in popularity

London, 30 September 2021 – Revenue sales for notebooks and tablets continued to beat 2019 levels over the summer, with Wi-Fi 6-equipped notebooks performing particularly well, according to the latest data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

CONTEXT’s Revenue Trend Index plots current performance against a value of 100 for each category, which is equivalent to the 2019 average. We found that mobile PCs performed best, with notebooks hovering at around 120 on the index from week 25-36, while tablets are now at around 105.

 

Desktop sales through distribution remain well below the category’s 2019 average, at around 75. But while year-on-year revenue for notebooks (-2%) and tablets (-17%) fell in August, desktop sales recovered slightly to growth of +10%.

 

A European outlier

 

Most European countries followed these same trends, with some recording significantly higher notebook sales revenues than 2019 and some near or in line with 2020 figures. However, one outlier is Italy.

 

The country had one of the highest notebook growth rates last year thanks to a slew of education deals, which drove year-on-year sales to 116% in August 2020. That made for some tough comparatives this summer, exacerbated by the fact that 2021 has seen a return to the seasonal drop in activity in August, as workers and students went on holiday. The country has also been hit hard by supply chain issues, especially in the consumer space where retailers are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty with delivery times and product quantities.

 

Speccing up

 

CONTEXT data also shows a surge in revenue through distribution thanks to sales of products with higher specs. Our analysis of notebooks equipped with Wi-Fi 6, the latest version of the wireless communication protocol, showed revenue sales account for just 16% of the total for the business category in May 2020. However, by early September 2021, that figure had soared to 70%. In the consumer market, adoption was slower but increased steadily in the course of 2020 and stood at 57% of revenue sales by September.

 

This can be explained by several factors. Of course, the figures are driven by more products with Wi-Fi 6 enabled by default coming onto the market. Supply also plays a role. But we can’t rule out the fact that commercial organizations and home users are demanding better connectivity for remote working, management and learning. Wi-Fi 6 not only boosts connection speeds but also improves networks when handling multiple devices—as many have in homes during the pandemic. 






London, 9 April 2021 – Sales of large-format displays (LFDs) in Western Europe (WE) during 2020 were significantly affected by the pandemic and there have been little signs of recovery in early Q1 2021, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company. Declining sales reflected the impact of lockdown measures as LFDs are heavily used in public settings. On the positive side, sales of interactive displays remained relatively stable and have begun to grow in the last few months.

In early Q1 2021*, increased demand for cheaper LFDs coupled with reduced average selling prices (ASPs) helped to drive sales growth at the cost of revenues: overall sales declined by −1% year-on-year while revenues fell by more than −6%. Sales of displays whose ASPs fell noticeably – those with 75" and 65" screens – grew in early Q1 but, in the meantime, those of more mainstream models with 55" screens continued to fall.

Large format displays: volume sales and year-on-year growth, WE distribution

Lockdown definitely put brakes on an LFD market that was thriving in 2019; however, the last twelve months have also shown that collaboration is vital to deliver results during a pandemic. This has resulted in sales of interactives screens quickly returning to pre-pandemic levels once companies established new ways of working By Q4, these models were in higher demand and the trend has continued into early Q1 with +37% year-on-year growth in volume sales and +12% growth in revenues. It appears the pandemic has accelerated modernising and digitalisation in education as well as business; classrooms across Europe are being equipped with collaboration tools as schools and universities develop creative learning approaches for remote- and hybrid-learning environments. The challenges these ways of working pose for both teachers and students require new hardware and software. Despite economic slowdowns and shrinking government budgets, many countries have realised that investment in public education is now more important than ever. Sales of touchscreen displays designed for collaboration and classroom use more than doubled in Italy and Spain during early Q1 2021. Distributors in the UK, Germany and France saw less spectacular – but still good – increases (10- 15%). Price drops again played an important role in spurring demand, with significant reductions in the prices of many popular interactive displays – in some cases, models cost as much as −20% less than in 2019.

Interactive displays: year-on-year sales growth and ASP, WE distribution

The outlook for the industry is positive, despite the difficult environment which means the pace of recovery may remain slow. There are opportunities for the LFD industry as lockdowns gradually ease, societies begin to reopen, and the world finds out what the new normal will be. Digital signage will definitely be an effective tool for many restaurants, shops and large venues facing challenges such as safe and efficient communication and indoor traffic management. LFDs and interactive screens are likely to become integral parts of public spaces: necessities rather than novelties. The sector therefore has a good chance of making a full recovery – especially if current opportunities to innovate and contribute are fully realised.

‘* excludes last week of March 2021




Printer revenues fall over summer due to price increases and supply issues

As of week 34, CONTEXT’s Revenue Trend Index for refillable ink-tank devices remained above 120, meaning that revenue is more than 20% higher than the average for 2019. This compares well with the performance of inkjet machines, for which the same measure stood below 80.

 

Ink-tank devices are refilled with ink supplied in bottles, and the tanks have a higher capacity than traditional cartridges. Although the printer hardware has a higher upfront cost, the price per page is significantly lower, making them more cost-effective. They therefore became an increasingly popular choice among consumers during the pandemic. In recent weeks, sales have also benefitted from stock levels that remain relatively good, unlike those of cartridge printers.

 

The recent performance of ink-tank printers has been particularly impressive in Germany, France and Italy, which together account for around 40% of European revenue from this type of device.

 

Consumer vs business

 

Business sales have rebounded after a tough year and revenue began to increase from around week 21, thanks to office re-openings and rebalanced budgets. However, it started to slide again in July and the holiday season exacerbated the trend.

 

The continuing shortage of components and raw materials means vendors will be seeking to make the best use of available components to optimise profits. They are thus likely to alter their mix of offerings toward products such as business printers that generate higher margins. A further incentive to shift production in this direction comes from increasing demand for business models as large private and public projects resume alongside new projects that will further stimulate sales in the segment.

 

Underperformance of the consumer market in Q2 2021 was also a consequence of the supply shortages. Shipments did increase towards the end of the quarter, meeting pent-up demand, and remained high in July. This, along with suppliers raising prices, led to the revenue index growing from week 22. However, revenues fell significantly again in August as demand dropped and the global component shortage left manufacturers competing for limited materials, with ink cartridges and inkjet printers particularly affected.

 

Raw material shortages and logistics challenges are forcing prices up and reducing revenues across the industry. Should the situation improve in September, it is not unreasonable to anticipate a rebound in sales – particularly those of entry- and mid-level devices aimed at consumers




Infrastructure market recovery impacted by shortages and delays

London, 01 October 2021 – The European infrastructure market, which includes revenues from sales of servers, storage and networking, is not growing as quickly as expected in Q3 2021 due to component shortages and supply delays, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

Enterprise Infrastructure – 4-week rolling revenue index: Europe

In Q2 2021, infrastructure spending returned to 2019 levels and we were expecting this positive trend to continue in to Q3. Whilst the quarter got off to a promising start in July, August did not meet expectations – revenues were lower than in the previous year – and the market’s performance in September is just on a par with that of 2020.

Enterprise Storage – 4-week rolling revenue index: Europe

Servers – 4-week rolling revenue index: Europe

The main culprits are servers and enterprise storage. Revenues in both these market segments were at their lowest point in the last three years at the end of August and have just matched 2020 levels in recent weeks. With the positive impact of the return to offices on sales of switching equipment, the Enterprise networking segment is faring better, as expected.

 

Feedback from the industry is clear: component shortages and supply issues driving this below-average performance.

 

This is illustrated by the news from several industry players that stock-and-sell products in the server segment are doing well because customers are not hesitating to adapt their orders and buy components that are currently in stock rather than wait for delivery of their preferred component on a date that cannot be guaranteed. In addition, pre-configured servers – those with an almost complete configuration that are often in stock within the channel – have lately had a solid volume share of the European market, matching their performance at the beginning of the pandemic when factory-integrated custom configurations first felt the negative impact of reduced availability of components.

Servers – 4-week rolling revenue index: UK

Servers – 4-week rolling revenue index: Germany

When we look at country-level data, we see that reduced server sales in the UK and Germany are part of the reason for the poor performance of the overall European infrastructure market.

Despite what seemed like a solid UK recovery in July, there is no doubt that recent HGV driver shortages and Brexit red tape have since accentuated the global supply issues in this country.

While Germany has sailed through the pandemic rather more solidly than many other parts of Europe, the summer has not been kind to the server market there. Indeed, since July, revenues have been well under those of both 2020 and 2019. The latest dip would be more worrying were it not for last week’s election: the potential change in government can be blamed for a slowing down of public investment and the creation of an uncertain environment for business-infrastructure spending. German companies are still waiting to see what kind of coalition will come out of the current negotiation: both the Greens and the FDP would want some government policy to reflect their principles and any such moves could impact investments made in the next year or so.

Although the German political situation will be resolved in the next few months, the component shortage is, we hear, likely to last into 2022 and this will have a negative effect on the infrastructure market for at least the two next quarters.




Global Industrial 3D Printer Shipments accelerated in H1 but still not back to pre-Covid levels

Fantastic year-on-year growth of 61% and +43% in Industrial and Design price-class printer shipments in Q2 2021 but levels still -10% and -5% below those of Q2 2019

London, 12 October 2021 – New 3D printer shipments continued to accelerate in Q2 2021 in both long-standing verticals, such as dental and aerospace, and new markets eager to explore technologies which can help mitigate current and future supply-chain hiccups, according to latest market insights by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

As economies around the globe continued to recover from, battled against or learned to live with Covid-19, organisations began to settle in to their new normal. While capital expenditures were largely put on hold a year ago, spending had opened up by the second quarter of this year and this led to phenomenal year-on-year shipment growth rates.

3D Shipments grew +61% and +43% for the most expensive types of printer on the market, those in the Industrial price class (costing more than $100K for a system) and Design class ($20K–$100K). Between them, these printers accounted for 64% of global system revenues over Q2 2021 – and were also those most negatively impacted by Covid shutdowns. In spite of this phenomenal growth, shipments were not yet up to pre-Covid levels with those of Industrial printers being -10% down on Q2 2019 and those of Design printers -5% down. For the quarter, the increase in Industrial printer shipments was most significant in North America while new shipments in Western Europe only rose modestly and China shipments levelled off after super-acceleration in previous quarters. All but two of the Top-10 vendors of Industrial printers saw shipments rise from a year ago with notable exceptional organic shipment growth seen from UnionTech, Stratasys and 3D Systems.

Chart 1: Global Industrial and Design 3D Printer System Shipment Growth

At the other end of the market, shipments of Personal and KIT&HOBBY printers went in the opposite direction. Demand from hobbyists locked at home meant there was fantastic growth in these classes during 2020 but sales are now waning: in Q2 2021 shipments of DIY printers were up +18% year-on-year – a level far below that seen in recent quarters – and shipments for fully-assembled printers costing less than $2.5K were down -32%. With no near-term demand catalyst for these consumer-centric models, many vendors have looked to add new types of printers to their portfolios. The hottest area at this low end of the market is resin-based LCD vat photopolymerisation printers which accounted for 46% of all shipments of fully assembled 3D printers over the quarter, up from just 10% in 2019 as a whole.

Chart 2: Global Personal and KIT&HOBBY and Professional 3D Printer

System Shipment Growth (Separate Scales)

Professional price-class printer shipments were less impacted by Covid shutdowns last year than those of Industrial and Design models but demand had not been as robust as that for consumer-targeted printers. While some vendors saw growth a year ago as demand from at-home workers rose, others were affected by supply-chain disruptions and key end-markets shutting down. Although shipments now seem to have recovered from the pandemic (they were up +38% from Q2 2020 and even up +33% from Q2 2019) this is related more to the introduction of new products from leading vendors than to Covid-related changes in demand – most growth in the category is seen following rollouts. The new, larger form-factor, resin SLA printers from Formlabs have so far been very successful and the ramp-rate for the same company’s SLS polymer powder bed fusion machine is also encouraging. All of the Top 10 vendors saw year-on-year shipment growth in Q2 2021: besides Formlabs, the quarter was also particularly good for Stratasys, Markforged, Zortrax, UNIZ, 3D Systems and Desktop Metal (with most of their products in this price-class coming from their EnvisionTEC division).

Companies, especially those based in the US and China, are increasingly bullish about prospects for growth in H2 2021 as in-person trade events begin again around the world. This optimism needs to be tempered when it is based on marketing activities associated with new public listings, or have the nuances examined given that many individual companies are looking to grow by adding non-3D printing technologies to their portfolios. The outlook for the 3D-printer-only market is further clouded by the fact that individual companies have seen growth as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Even parsing out individual technology trends and focusing only on net-new 3D printer shipments, forecasts for 2021 are robust.

CONTEXT’s expectation is that 2021 will not only see great year-on-year growth but also see shipments rise above 2019 levels: for example, industrial printer shipments are now forecast to be up +35% compared to 2020 and, more importantly, up +6% from 2019.

*Price-class categorisation is based on fully assembled finished goods for Personal, Professional, Design and Industrial systems; Kit & Hobby models require DIY assembly.

 

 

 

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