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CONTEXT Research Updates deliver timely insights on key market segments.

  • PCs
  • Displays
  • Imaging
  • Enterprise
  • 3D Printing

PC Research update


Sales of docking stations and mobile computer cases up strongly since start of pandemic

London, 30 March 2021 – Sales of mobile accessories, including docking stations and computer cases, have seen significant growth since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Displays


Q4 sees another record of monitor sales

London, 5 February 2021 – Sales of desktop monitors achieved record growth of 33% in Q4 2020 driven by demand in consumer channels and from small and medium business (SMB) resellers according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Imaging


Consumer printers achieve robust double-digit growth in August sales

London, 05 Oct 2020 – Demand driven by remote working and distance learning has kept the printer market rising through August, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Enterprise


Germany leads enterprise networking sales recovery

London, 14 January 2021 – After a challenging year for enterprise networking, European revenues returned to typical levels in the last two months of 2020 according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


3D Printing


Pent-up demand set to drive 3D printer shipment growth in 2021

LONDON, 14 January 2021 – As the West emerged from early lockdowns and the East continued to recover from the initial months of the pandemic, there were rebounds in the Professional, Design and Industrial printer segments with shipments up +9%, +16% and +22% respectively between Q2 and Q3 2020. However, quarterly totals lagged behind those for 2019 and, for these key groups, were down by −12%, −11% and −21% year-on-year. The robust demand from shut-in consumers and working-from-home professionals for finished-good Personal 3D printers seen in the first half of the year settled down a bit in the third quarter but, although shipments were −7% down on Q2 2020, they were up +2% from the same period in the previous year.




Sales of docking stations and mobile computer cases up strongly since start of pandemic

London, 30 March 2021 – Sales of mobile accessories, including docking stations and computer cases, have seen significant growth since the start of the pandemic, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

As the need for mobile devices has increased – driven by the rise of homeworking and e-learning, and increased time on video calls, gaming and streaming – so has demand for accessories. In 2020, volume sales of docking stations through Europe’s largest distributors were up by +27% compared to 2019, while those of mobile carry cases increased by +27.3%. This has been followed by even stronger growth during the first two months of 2021: docking station sales were up +34% year-on-year in January and February, and case sales were up by +38%.

Increased demand for docking stations can clearly be attributed to the number of people having to set up offices in their homes. That of mobile carry cases is due, in part, to sales to the education market but as commercial organisations prepare for future hybrid working models, sales to this sector are also on the rise.

Volume sales of docking stations in the first two months of 2021 were up by +39%, +5%, and +57% year-on-year in Germany, the UK and France respectively. These are Western Europe’s largest markets for these products. In the largest markets across Central and Eastern Europe – Poland and the Czech Republic – sales grew by +82% and +12%.

Back in Western Europe, the UK saw the greatest sales of mobile computing cases in early Q1 2021 with a volume increase of +82%. It was followed by Germany, with growth of +94%, and France where sales rose by +15%. In Central and Eastern Europe, year-on-year sales in Poland (the largest market) were up by +17% and those in the Czech Republic grew by +31%.

                                       Docking stations: European distribution

                                  Mobile computing cases: European distribution




Q4 sees another record of monitor sales

London, 5 February 2021 – Sales of desktop monitors achieved record growth of 33% in Q4 2020 driven by demand in consumer channels and from small and medium business (SMB) resellers according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

Sales of desktop monitors began to accelerate at the start of the pandemic. They slowed briefly in the summer but picked up in September and kept growing throughout Q4, showing that demand was much higher than expected and has not yet been met. Investments in homeworking equipment seem to have continued and, given fourth-quarter holiday sales, gaming monitors saw even more interest than earlier in the year.

Desktop monitors: Volume sales by target customer, WE distribution

 

The record growth was due to sales of both consumer and business models. Due to lockdowns and office closures, sales to corporate resellers saw another quarter of decline, falling by -6% year-on-year. By contrast, sales to SMB have been recovering, growing by +18% in the same period, and those to retail have more than doubled. However, the need for homeworking and study devices has done more to drive growth than the special campaigns and sales that usually spur sales this time of the year. In fact, the backlog of orders was so high that there was no real need for vendors to incentivise customers.

When it comes to gaming or premium business models, where competition intensifies, the reasons for increased sales are slightly different. For gamers looking for models with refresh rates higher than 144 Hz, the choice keeps growing while prices keep going down. For homeworkers, it is all about specifications like ethernet input that enables monitors to become display and docking station in one, USB-C ports, good quality cameras or ergonomic features: distributors saw significant increases in sales of models with these features in Q4 2020. The majority of vendors are currently facing supply issues – especially for mainstream screen sizes like 21.5″, 23.8″ and 27″ – and this has changed the portfolio of monitors sold: the growth in sales of larger models, curved-screen devices or even small portable monitors may not necessarily reflect customer preferences but the choices they currently have.

Desktop monitors: Volume share by specification, Q4-20 vs Q4-19,

WE distribution

 

 

With sales through Western European distributors growing +23% year on year in 2020, Q4 closed one of the best-ever years for the desktop monitor market. This increase has shown that the importance of good screens for home offices was previously underestimated. Investment in homeworking devices happened at different paces in different countries so, although overall growth will probably slow down, demand should still remain high in those parts of Europe where sales picked up later or more slowly and, as a result, Q1 2021 will show increases compared to the first months of 2020 that may carry on into Q2. However, the extent to which the market grows will really depend on the level of supply as this remains challenging and poses major obstacle for many vendors. 

 

 




Consumer printers achieve robust double-digit growth in August sales

London, 05 Oct 2020 – Demand driven by remote working and distance learning has kept the printer market rising through August, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

Despite summer holidays, August consumer printer sales grew by +17.3% year-on-year, driven by models targeted at consumers. There was high double-digit growth in laser multifunction printers (MFPs) with the biggest increase (+43.9%), followed by inkjet SFPs (+36.3%), and a more modest improvement for inkjet MFPs (+15.7%) and +3.8% in sales of single-function laser printers (laser SFPs). Back-to-school shopping has been an important factor in increased sales to consumers.

Graph 1: Consumer printer volume sales: Y/Y change

by category – WE distribution

The month saw notable increases in volume sales of consumer printers to retailers, etailer consumers and small and medium resellers as resellers stocked up for this year’s back-to-school season. Sales to retailers, which account for 61% of overall sales in August, were up by +15.8%, but it was etailer consumers that performed best; their growth of +34.7% was followed by the +30.6% of small and medium resellers.

Spain, Italy and France are the main drivers of the Western European consumer printer market, and all registered outstanding volume growth in August – although this came on the back of weak performance in same period last year. The market in Spain grew the most, with printer sales targeted to consumers up by +128% on the same period last year, followed by Italy (+69.4%) and France (+43.4%).

In Germany, sales of consumer-targeted printers declined in August (-11.9%), continuing the trend that started in June and is mainly due to the negative performance of inkjet MFPs (-11.1%) and laser SFPs (-41.4%) which together account for 83.1% of sales in this country.

Similarly, a decline in sales of inkjet MFPs (-40.1%) and laser SFPs (-58.6%), which together account for about 95% of sales in August, heavily impacted the United Kingdom’s overall sales performance (-39.5%).

Graph 2: Consumer printer volume sales: Y/Y change

by country – major WE economies

It is a matter of debate whether this uptick is a short-term trend or if the way people and organisations will purchase printers in future is beginning to change. However, Covid infection rates are rising again (at an exponential daily rate in some countries) and the threat of new lockdowns across Europe is real, so we expect that the demand for consumer printers will remain strong in the months to come.




Germany leads enterprise networking sales recovery

London, 14 January 2021 – After a challenging year for enterprise networking, European revenues returned to typical levels in the last two months of 2020 according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

Enterprise networking 4-week rolling revenue index

(average 4-week revenue 2019 = 100)

 

The 4-week rolling revenue value remained under that of the same week in 2019 from week 12 of 2020 until week 44 when it began to return to a more reasonable standard, almost matching the previous year. We are still not out of the crisis – sales in the last four weeks of 2020 are still below 2019 levels – but 4-week revenues are, for first time in a while, above the 2019 average, which is good news for the networking industry.

Enterprise networking 2020 4-week rolling revenue index by country

 

Germany is the main driver of the recovery with significantly improved revenues since week 44 of 2020. Networking in Germany has not been impacted as much by the pandemic as that in other countries, and the strong performance of the sector in the last two months of 2020 drove the increase in European revenues.

However, there is, as yet, no sign of an upward trend in the UK. This is partly because levels of working from home were higher here even before the pandemic (see graph below): with much of the workforce continuing to connect to corporate networks from offsite, businesses had no urgent need to invest in onsite networking infrastructure. Lockdowns also led to a significant reduction in the expansion of office space and this, too, had a negative effect on sales of networking products.

Percentage of employed persons working from home sometimes or usually

in 2019. Source: Cedefop

Enterprise switching 2020 4-week rolling revenue index by country

The main revenue stream in the enterprise networking sector is switching, the segment most impacted by the crisis. The pattern seen here follows that observed for the sector as a whole with the UK index hovering around the low sixties over the last three months of 2020 whilst Germany grew stronger and drove up revenues.

Enterprise wireless networking 2020 4-week rolling revenue index by country

Wireless networking was less impacted by soft demand as commercial, retail and hospitality spaces began to reopen in the summer. Here too, however, we see a recent positive trend across Germany and Europe with the UK failing to make the most of the end of year boost.

Germany is clearly leading the way to recovery and the same pattern has recently been seen in other countries including Spain, Italy and, to a lesser extent, France. Working from home and the economic slowdown have significantly affected the on-premises networking infrastructure market, especially the important switching segment, so the upward European trend at the end of 2020 is good news.

The recent rather low UK revenues are partly due to a heavily service-oriented economy: the financial impact of a workforce stuck at home is less than that seen in more industrial countries like Germany where factories need employees onsite and infrastructure investments to enable them to function and ensure economic continuity. In other words, the negative UK trend is not automatically a sign that the country has been more impacted by the crisis than the rest of Europe, the explanation instead lies in structural differences. With UK lockdowns in full force for at least another two months, we are not expecting much change in the early weeks of 2021.




Pent-up demand set to drive 3D printer shipment growth in 2021

LONDON, 14 January 2021 – As the West emerged from early lockdowns and the East continued to recover from the initial months of the pandemic, there were rebounds in the Professional, Design and Industrial printer segments with shipments up +9%, +16% and +22% respectively between Q2 and Q3 2020. However, quarterly totals lagged behind those for 2019 and, for these key groups, were down by −12%, −11% and −21% year-on-year. The robust demand from shut-in consumers and working-from-home professionals for finished-good Personal 3D printers seen in the first half of the year settled down a bit in the third quarter but, although shipments were −7% down on Q2 2020, they were up +2% from the same period in the previous year.

Quarterly Global 3D Printer System Unit Shipments by Price Class (individual scales)

 

 

 

The fourth quarter saw new mitigation efforts in many Western countries. This delayed a more robust rebound, and a significant recovery is not now expected until the second half of 2021 when vaccine distribution has been ramped up around the globe. While not as harsh on many businesses as the lockdowns seen in the first half of the year, fourth-quarter shelter-in-place orders still limited international and regional business travel and caused many companies to keep near-term capital expenditure on hold thereby limiting new 3D printer installations and new orders in 2020. Nonetheless, many companies have reported strong interest and pent-up demand, sparking expectations of a post-pandemic bump in 2021.

Industrial

Most all of the Top 10 3D printer vendors – including the Western companies 3D Systems, Carbon, EOS, HP, Markforged, Roboze and Stratasys – saw a sequential rise in unit shipments in Q3 2020 with double-digit growth in most cases. China-based companies such as Farsoon, HBD and UnionTech, which were already on their way to recovery in Q2, registered shipment levels rising above those seen a year before. Newcomers to the category like Flashforge, Nexa3D and Origin (recently acquired by Stratasys) also helped improve printer shipments for the quarter.

Design

While June–September is usually the weakest period for Design printer sales, in Q3 2020 shipments rose +16% from their nadir in Q2. Stratasys and 3D Systems, who lead this category in terms of volume sales, saw nice sequential shipment growth. The other leading vendor in this category, EnvisionTEC, also reported year-on-year revenue growth but noted success more from accelerated utilization rather than by way of increased printer sales thus far.

Professional

Professional 3D printing enjoyed strong demand in H1 2020 from people working from home but this was muted in Q3. While vendors like Markforged, Photocentric, Raise3D, Stratasys (with part of its MakerBot line) and others enjoyed double-digit year-on-year shipment growth, the total number of this type of printer shipped globally was −12% less than the previous year. The trend toward more feature-rich, expensive products continued, led by unit-volume leaders Ultimaker and Formlabs.

Personal

While historically dominated by the material extrusion FDM/FFF devices that still accounted for 79% of desktop printers sold in Q3 2020, LCD-based vat photopolymerization printers remained a hot category with +42% more of these being shipped globally than the year before. Taiwan’s Phrozen and China’s Longer 3D were standout vendors in this period. Kits* (DIY products typically selling for <$500 and not accounted for in the graph above) continued to take share from fully assembled printers, with China’s Creality remaining far and away the global leader in terms of unit volumes.

2021 and beyond

The industry is itching to showcase itself again at both regional and global events. Many companies held back from announcing new products in 2020 in the hope of show-and-tell, in-person launch opportunities in 2021. Major 3D printing events (such as RAPID+TCT, AMUG and FORMNEXT) were cancelled or scaled back in 2020 but are gearing up for strong attendance whenever and wherever allowed to take place in 2021. Companies continue to report new interest from net-new vertical markets and are hopefully anticipating that this interest will turn into capital equipment purchases in 2021 and beyond.

Metal binder jetting in the Industrial price-class segment and composite 3D printing in Industrial, Design and Professional price points are key printer segments to watch in 2021 with new and established companies’ alike shipping new printers in these categories. With Desktop Metal, HP and others joining ExOne and Digital Metal in championing binder jetting for serial production of metal parts, this is a technology that looks likely to make significant advances in the year ahead. New vendors of composites printers – currently dominated by Markforged in the Professional and Design price categories – are set to push this category forward in the coming year as well. Portfolio expansion – best exemplified by Stratasys’ expansion of their SLA efforts and forthcoming entrance into powder bed fusion polymers – should also help re-grow the global 3D printer market. Other companies look set to grow by focusing on existing technologies and industries that have already adopted 3D printing: for example, 3D Systems has taken the strategic decision to focus on Healthcare (including dental) and Industrial markets (such as for volume-serial production) with progress already announced against that goal in Q4.

In the longer term, metal and polymer printers focused on volume production are set to lead the growth of the 3D printing industry. Revenue growth from Industrial 3D printer system shipments (which accounted for 63% of global hardware revenues in Q3 2020) are projected to increase by a solid +15% year-on-year in 2021 and see a four-year CAGR of +19% to 2024. Within that, strong areas of bullishness are technologies specifically focused on volume production, including powder bed fusion (SLS, MJF, HSS, etc.) and vat photopolymerization (SLA, DLP, DLS/CLIP, etc.) for polymers, and binder jetting for metals.

Industrial Printer System Revenue Forecast by Material and Process

* Price-class categorization of Personal, Professional, Design and Industrial based on fully-assembled, finished-good products; Kits not shown here.

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