The ongoing COVID pandemic has completely altered the shape and nature of the global economy. Many sectors and industries have seen huge falls in revenue over the first half of the year, as people have largely been indoors and thus been spending less money. However, at the same time, those sectors which cater to people staying at home have done well. For example, consider the various content streaming platforms, such as Netflix. Netflix has seen a huge increase in its subscriber base this year, as more and more people logged on to get their entertainment needs. Similarly, gaming websites have also seen an increase in demand, where many gaming developers have been giving games away at huge discounts, or even for free, to give fans and customers an incentive to play their games. Even in the online casino market, we have seen a huge spike in demand, especially as land-based casinos have had to remain shut due to the pandemic, even in countries like New Zealand, for example, which are handling the pandemic much better than the rest of the world. It is interesting to see that New Zealand internet gambling games have been very popular, and this is also down to the fact that the PC industry has been booming in the country since the start of the year.
Of course, a major reason for this is the fact that businesses and companies were forced to keep their employees at home and get them to work remotely as much as possible. Thus, it is no surprise that PC and laptop purchases increased, with this rise being sustained across the year. In the second quarter of 2020, we have seen a 37% increase in shipments in the traditional PC market in New Zealand, amounting to a total of nearly 217,000 units shipped during this time. This was driven largely by commercial PC shipments, which increased by 65% YoY, while consumer PC shipments grew by 13% YoY. Given that students and employees all moved into remote learning and working, these numbers are no surprise. At the same time, the government drove a lot of this as well, with New Zealand’s Ministry of Education distributing a large number of notebooks among students to allow them to study from home.
It has largely been the laptop and notebook sector that has driven growth. Notebooks grew by 61.3% YoY, while the desktop category actually declined by 11.8%. Notebooks and laptops offer portability and flexibility, allowing business users the flexibility to choose to continue working from home even after lockdown restrictions had ended, which explains why they were so popular. At the same time, consumer demand also shifted towards notebooks, due to the same reasons explained above. It was notable that demand shifted online in the absence of physical retail stores, which had to shut during lockdowns. It is expected that this growth will continue onto the next quarter as well, as families which are remaining indoors will probably purchase individual devices per person to cater to each individual’s specific needs, rather than using a shared family computer, for example.
Another sector which saw growth is the gaming PC market. Again, as people stayed indoors, gaming emerged as a viable source of entertainment, leading to higher demand for these specialized gaming PCs. PC monitors saw growth of nearly 62% YoY, as more and more people set up home offices which required more than one monitor. However, there were supply chain concerns, especially as freight costs increased with the reduction in flights operating into New Zealand due to the various restrictions put in place. It is expected that the sector will grow by nearly 8% in the next quarter as well to continue the strong annual performance, with consumer demand expected to remain buoyant, while commercial demand falls.