Despite the massive ongoing semiconductor, GPU and general technology shortage manufacturers are facing right now, the desktop PC market continues to grow, with new data revealing that nearly 1 million PCs are currently being sold every day. This has led the IDC to project an 18.1% growth rate for the market across all of 2021.
These numbers are astonishing to see, given how nasty component shortages have been for all computer-related devices over the past year. If demand is this high right now, we wouldn't be surprised to see even more market growth once component shortages start expiring in the next year or two. While it's true that a potential end to the pandemic might see demand drop a little, the IDC expects a 5-year annual growth rate of 3%.
Ironically, a large driving factor behind recent desktop PC sales has been the decline of laptop volume; the IDC notes that while the more technologically advanced components in laptops like CPUs, GPUs and memory are gaining in volume, laptop bottlenecks are arising elsewhere.
Instead, the shortage issues have been driven down to audio ICs, sensors, PMICs, and display drivers, which use much older (mature) nodes of 40 nm or larger. Over 50% of the entire semiconductor industry functions on these older nodes, and production for 40nm (or older) is only gradually increasing with no plans from fabs to aggressively accelerate production.
This has led the IDC to anticipate a change in the laptop and PC market, where laptop buyers will instead opt to buy desktop PCs, which will become the much more affordable option as laptop components become rarer and more expensive.
The IDC also notes that desktop PC sales, in general, are steadily increasing due to the continued popularity of PC gaming and content consumption (YouTube, Netflix etc). But, we're still far away from a complete rebound from the shortages. Luckily, the consumer market is expected to rebound to pre-pandemic levels first, before any other market. We don't know when that's going to happen, but it's still good news nonetheless.