Laptop manufacturers have struggled in recent months as the education market slowed down, consumer interest waned and companies were forced to fight over what few Intel processors were available to them. But things might be starting to turn around: DigiTimes reported today that Quanta, Compal, Wistron, Inventec and Pegatron original design manufacturers (ODMs) all saw notebook shipments rise throughout March.
The actual increases varied. Smaller companies like Wistron, Inventec and Pegatron saw their shipments rise by hundreds of thousands of units last month. Quanta saw a much bigger increase of nearly 1 million units, bringing its total up to 2.8 million units shipped. Compal reportedly saw a 75 percent month-over-month increase between February and March that brought its total number of notebook shipments up to 4.2 million units.
Compal is one of the companies that decided to start using AMD processors in its products instead of waiting for Intel to increase production. That decision probably didn't have anything to do with the increased shipments in March--it wasn't even reported until March 25--but it does offer some perspective. An increase in shipments is good, sure, but the company expected to have a supply gap in the first and second quarters of this year.
If those expectations held true, Compal could have hypothetically shippeed even more notebooks in March if it had enough processors to do so. Intel might also have come in clutch with a surprise increase in CPU production, but that seems unlikely. The chip maker isn't expected to be able to mitigate the effects its 14nm processor shortage has had on manufacturers until at least the third quarter of this year.
Still, even though the CPU shortage is definitely an important factor in reduced PC shipments around the world, it's not the only one. Demand has also been a problem for many companies, and the rising shipments from these ODMs could indicate that the market is finally asking for more notebooks. Now it just needs to increase demand for memory, graphics cards, motherboards and who-knows-what-else to finally please investors.
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Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.