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Work from home drives laptop sales amid Covid-19 lockdown

By Arnab Dutta
August 12, 2020 14:38 IST
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From market leader HP and premium player Apple to China's Lenovo and Asus, all major brands in the market are witnessing rapid surge in the demand for notebooks.

The Covid-19 pandemic may have arrived as a major disruptor for businesses, but laptop and notebook makers are not among them.

With offices shut and most professionals solely dependent on their personal devices for work from home, laptops flew off the shelves in an otherwise subdued market for consumer electronics makers.


From market leader HP and premium player Apple to China’s Lenovo and Asus, all major brands in the market are witnessing rapid surge in the demand for notebooks.

According to sources, Apple is unable to meet the sudden surge in demand for the newly launched MacBook Air and Pro models.

While currently most of the popular models of MacBook Air and Pro (2020 version) are not available in the market, a person close to the company said, shipments failed to meet demand.

“We are getting enquiries from the farthest corners of the country. India is currently only among a handful of Apple’s markets registering a growth for Macs,” he said.

The data from International Data Corporation (IDC) shows during April-June quarter, despite lockdowns and poor consumer sentiment, shipment of notebooks surged by an impressive 17.6 per cent.

Shipment of enterprise notebooks, mostly used for heavy office work, jumped by a whopping 105.5 per cent.

For highly impacted small and medium businesses, the surge was 12.1 per cent.

“The demand for notebooks exceeded expectations, with most of the vendors exiting the quarter with minimum inventory.

"Despite the supply and logistics challenges in the first half of the quarter, companies executed most of the large orders,” said Bharath Shenoy, market analyst, IDC India.

Early indications suggest the trend continues in August. Amazon India, that recently concluded the Prime Day Sale, noted that work and study from home phenomena yanked up demand and placed laptops at the top of the list of items sold, during the two-day shopping bonanza.

HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus, Intel, and Mi featured on the top of the most sought-after brands.

During the June quarter, market leader HP registered degrowth of 8 per cent, as drop in shipment of desktop computers dragged down its numbers.

Second-largest player Lenovo, which is primarily dependent on notebooks, posted 32 per cent surge in shipment, while its Chinese peer Asus recorded a 56 per cent year-on-year growth.

Dell had to concede the second spot to Lenovo, as its desktop business suffered.

Complementing the strong domestic demand, American PC major HP expanded local capacity last week.

In association with Flex, it inaugurated a new plant in Tamil Nadu.

A recent survey by Lenovo revealed that 91 per cent Indian users have increased the use of laptops during the pandemic.

According to Rahul Agarwal, chief executive officer and managing director, Lenovo India, consumers are now prone to upgrade to high performance devices and become more conscious about data security and privacy - resulting in better growth prospects for the category.

The overall personal computer market declined 6.3 per cent, as desktops failed to attract buyers and registered 46 per cent decline in shipment.

According to IDC, the countrywide lockdowns forced everyone to work from home, resulting in strong demand for notebooks as enterprises rushed to ensure business continuity by providing its workforce the required infrastructure to work at home.

Most information technology services, global enterprises, and consulting companies placed large orders for notebooks, while massively cutting down purchases of desktops.

Resultantly, the share of desktops slipped further to 21 per cent, from 36 per cent in April-June 2019.

The share of notebooks grew to 77 per cent, from 62 per cent last year.

Photograph: Marco Bello/Reuters

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Arnab Dutta in New Delhi
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