Even as the first wave of Covid infections propelled India’s personal computer (PC) market to achieve record sales, the deadly second wave now threatens to disrupt the dream run. Market research firm Canalys fears that the domestic industry could face severe supply constraints in the current calendar year as well as in 2022.
“Measuring true demand in India is extremely difficult,” Canalys research analyst Ashweej Aithal pointed out, adding the second wave has been ruthless, claiming many more lives and livelihoods than the first wave.
“For PCs, the entire channel has been paralysed, and despite healthy demand from consumers and businesses alike, fulfilling orders was the primary issue once again. Channel partners that have not been able to pivot to online sales have seen a huge portion of their business slip during the pandemic,” he added.
“In addition, OEMs prioritising fast-moving markets, such as the US and Western Europe, and diverting the bulk of their inventory to these markets, has further aggravated the situation. For most of this year and next, India will suffer from supply issues,” Aithal explained.
On the brighter side, the surging demand for PCs led to the entry of new vendors such as Nokia and Vaio, who have launched new notebook models and plan to use their strong brand names to tempt customers. The market also saw an exceptional rise in gaming PC sub-category.
Shipments of ‘gaming-capable’ machines grew almost 65% Y-o-Y as the pandemic gave rise to a need for new forms of entertainment, given movie theatres, theme parks, pubs and restaurants were closed for much of the year, he noted.
Besides, Aithal noted that India could soon become a major manufacturing hub for PCs, as the government has extended its production-linked incentive (PLI) scheme for smartphone manufacturing to the PC industry.
“Manufacturers are expected to get incentives for laptops manufactured and priced above Rs 30,000 ($400) and tablets priced above Rs 15,000 ($200). Canalys expects most ODMs and OEMs to take advantage of this route, as the long-term outlook for India is still strong. While the commercial sector remains a key focus, PCs in education and for consumers are future hotspots,” he added.
During Q1 2021, India’s PC shipments, including tablets, grew 72% Y-o-Y to reach 4 million units, comprising 517,000 desktops, 2.5 million notebooks, 930,000 tablets and 43,000 workstations. Almost all categories grew well, mainly due to a poor Q1 2020, when supply was hit due to pandemic restrictions in China.
Notebooks (including mobile workstations) were the major growth driver, as shipments grew 119% over Q1 2020. Tablets also had one of their biggest quarters since 2016, with 52% year-on-year growth. Desktop shipments fell 6% to 517,000 units due to a fall in popularity for the form factor.