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CONTEXT Research Updates deliver timely insights on key market segments.

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

PC Research update


Notebook revenues continue strong performance versus 2019 as hybrid workplace emerges and consumer sales grow

London, 2 December 2021 – Notebook revenues through European distribution have continued their impressive performance in the first few weeks of Q4 2021 as organisations look to support the new hybrid workplace and consumer sales are up, according to new data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Displays




London, 9 April 2021 – Sales of large-format displays (LFDs) in Western Europe (WE) during 2020 were significantly affected by the pandemic and there have been little signs of recovery in early Q1 2021, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company. Declining sales reflected the impact of lockdown measures as LFDs are heavily used in public settings. On the positive side, sales of interactive displays remained relatively stable and have begun to grow in the last few months.


Imaging


Printer revenues fall over summer due to price increases and supply issues

London, 22 September 2021 – Printer sales revenues across Europe have slowed over the summer – due to pressures on price, supply and logistics – but a September rebound is on the cards, according to the latest data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


Enterprise


Networking revenues up as server and storage performance falters amidst supply shortages

London, 09 December 2021 – The European enterprise networking market has seen revenue sales exceed 2019 and 2020 figures for the past three weeks, although the server and storage categories have struggled, according to the latest data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.


3D Printing


Global Industrial 3D Printer Shipments accelerated in H1 but still not back to pre-Covid levels

Fantastic year-on-year growth of 61% and +43% in Industrial and Design price-class printer shipments in Q2 2021 but levels still -10% and -5% below those of Q2 2019

London, 12 October 2021 – New 3D printer shipments continued to accelerate in Q2 2021 in both long-standing verticals, such as dental and aerospace, and new markets eager to explore technologies which can help mitigate current and future supply-chain hiccups, according to latest market insights by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.




Notebook revenues continue strong performance versus 2019 as hybrid workplace emerges and consumer sales grow

London, 2 December 2021 – Notebook revenues through European distribution have continued their impressive performance in the first few weeks of Q4 2021 as organisations look to support the new hybrid workplace and consumer sales are up, according to new data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

The latest analysis shows the delta between current sales figures and those of two years ago continuing to grow, although strong comparatives with 2020 meant a 7% year-on-year (YoY) decline in the first 6.5 weeks of Q4.

Whilst trending upwards over recent weeks, desktop sales still remain below the 2019 average as commercial buyers focus on notebooks—both to support their flexible hybrid workforce and to ensure they have enough mobile computing options in case a new wave of mandatory lockdowns sweeps Europe.

Channel players on the up

When it comes to notebooks, SMB and corporate resellers are trending slightly below last year’s figures, although they continue to be way ahead of 2019 sales. Feedback from the market suggests that even though demand remains high for mobile devices, organisations are being more selective. They’re less desperate now for devices, and therefore are focusing more on the specs and performance they need.

Corporate reseller sales remain strong with recent 2021 figures climbing closer to those of a year ago. The impact of large government education sector deals last year appears to be lessening.

In the consumer retail and e-tailer channel segments, revenue growth has exceeded 2020 figures in recent weeks thanks to rising prices and a positive shift in product mix—for example, towards more gaming notebooks ahead of Black Friday, which pushed up ASPs.

Notebook workstation sales surge

One segment that has recorded consistently impressive performance during the pandemic is notebook workstations. Revenues nearly doubled between early Q4 2020 and now. Even before the crisis, the segment benefitted from the shift to mobile products. This accelerated at the start of the pandemic, both because of improved supply versus regular notebooks and increased demand from healthcare organisations.

Notebook workstations continue to see growth because:

  • The shift to mobile began a lot later in workstations, so that sales have only recently overtaken desktop form factors
  • Low supply of docking stations forced many potential notebook buyers to switch to this segment, where wired connectivity is built into devices

In fact, performance for docking stations in general would have been far better in 2021 were it not for chip component shortages which impacted the supply side. Demand will remain strong for these and headsets, mice and other notebook accessories in Q4 2021 and 2022, as the hybrid workplace continues to take shape.






London, 9 April 2021 – Sales of large-format displays (LFDs) in Western Europe (WE) during 2020 were significantly affected by the pandemic and there have been little signs of recovery in early Q1 2021, according to the latest data published by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company. Declining sales reflected the impact of lockdown measures as LFDs are heavily used in public settings. On the positive side, sales of interactive displays remained relatively stable and have begun to grow in the last few months.

In early Q1 2021*, increased demand for cheaper LFDs coupled with reduced average selling prices (ASPs) helped to drive sales growth at the cost of revenues: overall sales declined by −1% year-on-year while revenues fell by more than −6%. Sales of displays whose ASPs fell noticeably – those with 75" and 65" screens – grew in early Q1 but, in the meantime, those of more mainstream models with 55" screens continued to fall.

Large format displays: volume sales and year-on-year growth, WE distribution

Lockdown definitely put brakes on an LFD market that was thriving in 2019; however, the last twelve months have also shown that collaboration is vital to deliver results during a pandemic. This has resulted in sales of interactives screens quickly returning to pre-pandemic levels once companies established new ways of working By Q4, these models were in higher demand and the trend has continued into early Q1 with +37% year-on-year growth in volume sales and +12% growth in revenues. It appears the pandemic has accelerated modernising and digitalisation in education as well as business; classrooms across Europe are being equipped with collaboration tools as schools and universities develop creative learning approaches for remote- and hybrid-learning environments. The challenges these ways of working pose for both teachers and students require new hardware and software. Despite economic slowdowns and shrinking government budgets, many countries have realised that investment in public education is now more important than ever. Sales of touchscreen displays designed for collaboration and classroom use more than doubled in Italy and Spain during early Q1 2021. Distributors in the UK, Germany and France saw less spectacular – but still good – increases (10- 15%). Price drops again played an important role in spurring demand, with significant reductions in the prices of many popular interactive displays – in some cases, models cost as much as −20% less than in 2019.

Interactive displays: year-on-year sales growth and ASP, WE distribution

The outlook for the industry is positive, despite the difficult environment which means the pace of recovery may remain slow. There are opportunities for the LFD industry as lockdowns gradually ease, societies begin to reopen, and the world finds out what the new normal will be. Digital signage will definitely be an effective tool for many restaurants, shops and large venues facing challenges such as safe and efficient communication and indoor traffic management. LFDs and interactive screens are likely to become integral parts of public spaces: necessities rather than novelties. The sector therefore has a good chance of making a full recovery – especially if current opportunities to innovate and contribute are fully realised.

‘* excludes last week of March 2021




Printer revenues fall over summer due to price increases and supply issues

As of week 34, CONTEXT’s Revenue Trend Index for refillable ink-tank devices remained above 120, meaning that revenue is more than 20% higher than the average for 2019. This compares well with the performance of inkjet machines, for which the same measure stood below 80.

 

Ink-tank devices are refilled with ink supplied in bottles, and the tanks have a higher capacity than traditional cartridges. Although the printer hardware has a higher upfront cost, the price per page is significantly lower, making them more cost-effective. They therefore became an increasingly popular choice among consumers during the pandemic. In recent weeks, sales have also benefitted from stock levels that remain relatively good, unlike those of cartridge printers.

 

The recent performance of ink-tank printers has been particularly impressive in Germany, France and Italy, which together account for around 40% of European revenue from this type of device.

 

Consumer vs business

 

Business sales have rebounded after a tough year and revenue began to increase from around week 21, thanks to office re-openings and rebalanced budgets. However, it started to slide again in July and the holiday season exacerbated the trend.

 

The continuing shortage of components and raw materials means vendors will be seeking to make the best use of available components to optimise profits. They are thus likely to alter their mix of offerings toward products such as business printers that generate higher margins. A further incentive to shift production in this direction comes from increasing demand for business models as large private and public projects resume alongside new projects that will further stimulate sales in the segment.

 

Underperformance of the consumer market in Q2 2021 was also a consequence of the supply shortages. Shipments did increase towards the end of the quarter, meeting pent-up demand, and remained high in July. This, along with suppliers raising prices, led to the revenue index growing from week 22. However, revenues fell significantly again in August as demand dropped and the global component shortage left manufacturers competing for limited materials, with ink cartridges and inkjet printers particularly affected.

 

Raw material shortages and logistics challenges are forcing prices up and reducing revenues across the industry. Should the situation improve in September, it is not unreasonable to anticipate a rebound in sales – particularly those of entry- and mid-level devices aimed at consumers




Networking revenues up as server and storage performance falters amidst supply shortages

London, 09 December 2021 – The European enterprise networking market has seen revenue sales exceed 2019 and 2020 figures for the past three weeks, although the server and storage categories have struggled, according to the latest data from CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

The findings highlight an enterprise market far from uniform in recent revenue performance. Both storage and server sales have been affected by supply issues and component shortages, delaying projects and contributing to revenue sales below 2019 and 2020 levels over the past fortnight. Another driver is the emergence of hybrid working, which is leading many companies to reduce office space and could negatively impact on-premises server and storage sales long-term.

On the plus side, however, enterprise networking for the past three weeks has surpassed the performance of the previous two years. Although it was predicted to be the category most impacted by component shortages in Q4, vendors and suppliers are adapting remarkably well to supply challenges, by prioritising delivery of the right products to the right places.

Shortages driving prices up

That’s not to say the enterprise networking market has been immune to supply shortages. Our data for SMB switches shows the average selling price (ASP) per port climbing from €8.15 in January 2021 to €9.11 in October. These sorts of increases are not seen in the campus or datacentre switch markets, and are evidence of product shortages.

The same dynamic is true of the SMB Wireless Access Point segment, which saw ASPs rise from €108 in January 2021 to €128 in October, after peaking at €153 in September. Supply issues impacted the delivery of older Wi-Fi chipsets, which in turn drove up sales of Wi-Fi 6 appliances. Revenue share for Wi-Fi 6 among SMBs went from only 30% before the summer, to 60% in September.

Caution for the months ahead

Germany is driving solid growth for the enterprise IT market. The new government there has given a boost to infrastructure spending, combined with spending of the remainder of budget left from the previous administration. The main stand-out performer in the country is wireless, which in the past two weeks achieved its best revenue levels of the past two years. PC supply issues are also playing a role—with component shortages making it difficult to order some PC configurations in large quantities.

The UK has also recorded positive performance after lagging the European average for networking investments in 2021—especially in switching infrastructure. Revenue levels surpassed 2019 and 2020 figures in week 46, driven partly by the return to the office. However, we remain cautious about long-term sector performance given looming shortages and the possible return of lockdowns. Channel players will need to keep a close eye on developments over the coming weeks and months.




Global Industrial 3D Printer Shipments accelerated in H1 but still not back to pre-Covid levels

Fantastic year-on-year growth of 61% and +43% in Industrial and Design price-class printer shipments in Q2 2021 but levels still -10% and -5% below those of Q2 2019

London, 12 October 2021 – New 3D printer shipments continued to accelerate in Q2 2021 in both long-standing verticals, such as dental and aerospace, and new markets eager to explore technologies which can help mitigate current and future supply-chain hiccups, according to latest market insights by CONTEXT, the IT market intelligence company.

As economies around the globe continued to recover from, battled against or learned to live with Covid-19, organisations began to settle in to their new normal. While capital expenditures were largely put on hold a year ago, spending had opened up by the second quarter of this year and this led to phenomenal year-on-year shipment growth rates.

3D Shipments grew +61% and +43% for the most expensive types of printer on the market, those in the Industrial price class (costing more than $100K for a system) and Design class ($20K–$100K). Between them, these printers accounted for 64% of global system revenues over Q2 2021 – and were also those most negatively impacted by Covid shutdowns. In spite of this phenomenal growth, shipments were not yet up to pre-Covid levels with those of Industrial printers being -10% down on Q2 2019 and those of Design printers -5% down. For the quarter, the increase in Industrial printer shipments was most significant in North America while new shipments in Western Europe only rose modestly and China shipments levelled off after super-acceleration in previous quarters. All but two of the Top-10 vendors of Industrial printers saw shipments rise from a year ago with notable exceptional organic shipment growth seen from UnionTech, Stratasys and 3D Systems.

Chart 1: Global Industrial and Design 3D Printer System Shipment Growth

At the other end of the market, shipments of Personal and KIT&HOBBY printers went in the opposite direction. Demand from hobbyists locked at home meant there was fantastic growth in these classes during 2020 but sales are now waning: in Q2 2021 shipments of DIY printers were up +18% year-on-year – a level far below that seen in recent quarters – and shipments for fully-assembled printers costing less than $2.5K were down -32%. With no near-term demand catalyst for these consumer-centric models, many vendors have looked to add new types of printers to their portfolios. The hottest area at this low end of the market is resin-based LCD vat photopolymerisation printers which accounted for 46% of all shipments of fully assembled 3D printers over the quarter, up from just 10% in 2019 as a whole.

Chart 2: Global Personal and KIT&HOBBY and Professional 3D Printer

System Shipment Growth (Separate Scales)

Professional price-class printer shipments were less impacted by Covid shutdowns last year than those of Industrial and Design models but demand had not been as robust as that for consumer-targeted printers. While some vendors saw growth a year ago as demand from at-home workers rose, others were affected by supply-chain disruptions and key end-markets shutting down. Although shipments now seem to have recovered from the pandemic (they were up +38% from Q2 2020 and even up +33% from Q2 2019) this is related more to the introduction of new products from leading vendors than to Covid-related changes in demand – most growth in the category is seen following rollouts. The new, larger form-factor, resin SLA printers from Formlabs have so far been very successful and the ramp-rate for the same company’s SLS polymer powder bed fusion machine is also encouraging. All of the Top 10 vendors saw year-on-year shipment growth in Q2 2021: besides Formlabs, the quarter was also particularly good for Stratasys, Markforged, Zortrax, UNIZ, 3D Systems and Desktop Metal (with most of their products in this price-class coming from their EnvisionTEC division).

Companies, especially those based in the US and China, are increasingly bullish about prospects for growth in H2 2021 as in-person trade events begin again around the world. This optimism needs to be tempered when it is based on marketing activities associated with new public listings, or have the nuances examined given that many individual companies are looking to grow by adding non-3D printing technologies to their portfolios. The outlook for the 3D-printer-only market is further clouded by the fact that individual companies have seen growth as a result of mergers and acquisitions. Even parsing out individual technology trends and focusing only on net-new 3D printer shipments, forecasts for 2021 are robust.

CONTEXT’s expectation is that 2021 will not only see great year-on-year growth but also see shipments rise above 2019 levels: for example, industrial printer shipments are now forecast to be up +35% compared to 2020 and, more importantly, up +6% from 2019.

*Price-class categorisation is based on fully assembled finished goods for Personal, Professional, Design and Industrial systems; Kit & Hobby models require DIY assembly.

 

 

 

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