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Mobile PC Revenues Continue to Exceed 2019 Levels as Newer Specs Surge in Popularity

Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at CONTEXT
Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at CONTEXT

Revenue sales for notebooks and tablets continued to beat 2019 levels over the summer, with Wi-Fi 6-equipped notebooks performing particularly well, according to the latest data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

CONTEXT’s Revenue Trend Index plots current performance against a value of 100 for each category, which is equivalent to the 2019 average. We found that mobile PCs performed best, with notebooks hovering at around 120 on the index from week 25-36, while tablets are now at around 105.

Desktop sales through distribution remain well below the category’s 2019 average, at around 75. But while year-on-year revenue for notebooks (-2%) and tablets (-17%) fell in August, desktop sales recovered slightly to growth of +10%.

A European outlier

Most European countries followed these same trends, with some recording significantly higher notebook sales revenues than 2019 and some near or in line with 2020 figures. However, one outlier is Italy.

The country had one of the highest notebook growth rates last year thanks to a slew of education deals, which drove year-on-year sales to 116% in August 2020. That made for some tough comparatives this summer, exacerbated by the fact that 2021 has seen a return to the seasonal drop in activity in August, as workers and students went on holiday. The country has also been hit hard by supply chain issues, especially in the consumer space where retailers are dealing with a great deal of uncertainty with delivery times and product quantities.

Speccing up

CONTEXT data also shows a surge in revenue through distribution thanks to sales of products with higher specs. Our analysis of notebooks equipped with Wi-Fi 6, the latest version of the wireless communication protocol, showed revenue sales account for just 16% of the total for the business category in May 2020. However, by early September 2021, that figure had soared to 70%. In the consumer market, adoption was slower but increased steadily in the course of 2020 and stood at 57% of revenue sales by September.

This can be explained by several factors”, said Marie-Christine Pygott, senior analyst at CONTEXT. “Of course, the figures are driven by more products with Wi-Fi 6 enabled by default coming onto the market. Supply also plays a role. But we can’t rule out the fact that commercial organisations and home users are demanding better connectivity for remote working, management and learning. Wi-Fi 6 not only boosts connection speeds but also improves networks when handling multiple devices—as many have in homes during the pandemic.

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