The COVID-19 pandemic has in just a few short months rapidly altered the way we live and work. Interestingly, over this time the IT channel has reflected these changes. A great example is that of the unified communications (UC) category. According to the latest CONTEXT data, the total addressable market (TAM) for UC in EMEA soared by 20% year-on-year through distribution over the first 35 weeks of the year.
The uptick in demand for UC tools is to be expected: government lockdowns from February-March onwards forced large numbers of Europeans to work and study from home for several weeks. Many have yet to return to the office or university/school. The fastest growing segment within UC is webcams, where sales (unit sales or value?) surged 111% year-on-year during the period. Again, this fits neatly with the lockdown narrative. With more households hosting business video calls, online classes, and leisure activities such as online workout sessions and virtual catch-ups with friends and family, better UC tools became increasingly important.
According to CONTEXT sell-through data, the initial surge in demand occurred around March, when lockdowns in many countries were implemented. Although manufacturers struggled initially to meet market demand, especially in April and May, supply issues were eventually resolved.
More growth to come
Germany (27%), the UK (15%) and the Netherlands (8%) account for the largest slices of the European market, although all other countries experienced either double or triple-digit growth during the period. The vast majority (97%) of sales in Germany come from Logitech, Microsoft and Poly. Although Logitech is the dominant player here, with an 89% market share, Poly is the fastest-growing. It managed to increase its share by 2.7% after growing nearly 600% year-on-year. All three vendors plus Jabra have sold 100,000 more webcams so far this year than last. At a product level, the highest sales growth was recorded by Logitech’s BCC900 (+187%) and MeetUp (+229%) devices.
As for the future, there’s no sign of an end to remote working: in fact, fears of a second wave of infections will likely force even those who had ventured into the office back to their homes. That may drive a further increase in webcam sales. There may also be demand from those who couldn’t purchase their preferred model during lockdown and who are now upgrading to get a better quality device. Add to this the expected increase in remote students returning to virtual classes, and you have a recipe for more growth in the UC space this autumn.
© CONTEXT 2020