Predicting the unpredictable: COVID-19 is changing the IT devices business

The devices business is sensitive to how and where people work, communicate and play

The COVID-19 crisis is changing how and where people work and how they spend their free time, all of which directly affects the PC business, adjacent devices and services businesses, in addition to networks, data centers and cloud businesses. Many of these changes are opportunities for device vendors, but the global recession, and buyers’ conservatism in the face of uncertainty, will negatively impact vendors until a recovery is underway. The novel coronavirus illness and consequent control measures are influencing the supply and delivery chains as well as sales and servicing processes. Even after recovery from both the pandemic and the recession, some of the changes in working patterns are likely to be permanent as institutions and people find benefits in remote work, accelerating and institutionalizing a growing trend. Similarly, the movement toward using technology to improve health and healthcare is being greatly accelerated by the crisis.

The global crisis has many moving parts, all affecting devices and how they are used

There are several different components to the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • The illness itself is changing the lives of many people and directly affecting the global workforce as people become ill and others are caring for them.
  • The measures taken to slow the spread of the disease are drastically reducing economic activity, and devices sales are closely tied to economic activity.
  • Most importantly for the devices business, many more people are working remotely and many are relying more heavily on home-based communication and entertainment.
  • The implosion of the travel and hospitality businesses, as well as other personal services and retail businesses, is causing a rapid decrease in global economic activity, exacerbated by the downstream consequences of direct impacts to business.
  • It is possible that the virus and its mutations will impose a long-lasting threat, resulting in long-term changes to patterns of living and working.
  • Some of the changes brought about by the pandemic are accelerations of existing trends, such as working remotely, adoption of cloud-based solutions, and telemedicine; as such, these will remain in place after the crisis subsides.
  • The severity and the duration of the current crisis is indeterminate, undoubtedly leading to long-term consequences.
  • It is likely that as some geographic areas recover, other areas, especially rural areas, will experience new pandemic-based limitations on social interaction.

1Q18 device revenue results were boosted by market shifts and increasing ASPs in PCs and smartphones compared to a weaker 1Q17

HAMPTON, N.H. (July 13, 2018) — Technology Business Research, Inc.’s (TBR) 1Q18 Devices and Platforms Benchmark finds that there is ongoing revenue opportunity in both the PC and smartphone markets. Total benchmarked revenue increased 15.9% year-to-year to $112 billion despite indications of saturation in the high end of the PC market.

Total PC benchmarked revenue increased 12% year-to-year to $32 billion. Total PC benchmarked gross profit increased 10.4% year-to-year to $5 billion despite increasing component costs. “Despite speculation that the PC market is dead, major device OEMs have been able to successfully navigate the shifting market and generate healthy profits,” said TBR Analyst Dan Callahan. “Renewed appetite for premium PCs in enterprise — and PC OEMs shifting their go-to-market strategies to respond — has been the primary driver.”

Total benchmarked smartphone revenue increased 11% year-to-year to $72 billion. Total smartphone benchmarked gross profit increased 14.8% year-to-year to $23 billion. Smartphone OEMs are combating worldwide saturation by increasing average selling prices (ASPs). Apple’s gamble with a $1,000 smartphone paid off, as customers responded with demand, and Android peers are following suit.

Device as Service (DaaS), an expansion of the former PC as a Service market, is transforming into an offering aimed at supplanting traditional PC financing. The benchmark explores how HP Inc. was the first of the big three PC OEMs to capitalize on the emerging opportunity and has been the first with concrete outbound messaging to partners and customers. This has afforded the company a lead, but it is not cemented. Dell Technologies and Lenovo will use the path HP Inc. paved to introduce DaaS to the market and quickly solidify their own unique solutions. Lenovo and HP Inc. see opportunity beyond the PC in PC as a Service, thus the introduction of DaaS.

The DaaS opportunity remains mostly untapped. Customers and partners are still trying to understand how this service differs from traditional financing and are still kicking the tires on the analytics often attached by OEMs as the main selling point of DaaS.

TBR’s Devices and Platforms Benchmark provides insight on interrelated ecosystems, including device vendors, platform providers, supplier relations, and technology partners across the consumer and commercial spaces. TBR’s vendor-centric analysis speaks to industry trends, while market sizing illustrates opportunity. Our Devices and Platforms research includes PC, tablet and smartphone vendors; platform providers; and technology partners.

For additional information about this research or to arrange a one-on-one analyst briefing, please contact Dan Demers at +1 603.929.1166 or [email protected].




Technology Business Research, Inc. is a leading independent technology market research and consulting firm specializing in the business and financial analyses of hardware, software, professional services, and telecom vendors and operators. Serving a global clientele, TBR provides timely and actionable market research and business intelligence in a format that is uniquely tailored to clients’ needs. Our analysts are available to address client-specific issues further or information needs on an inquiry or proprietary consulting basis.

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