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Global PC Sector Suffers Worst Drop as China Chip Curbs Loom

(Bloomberg) -- The global PC market saw its steepest decline on record as economic uncertainty and a glut of unsold inventory dented shipments for the fourth quarter in a row.

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Worldwide shipments of desktop and laptop computers fell by 19.5% in the third quarter of 2022 compared with the year-ago period, according to research firm Gartner. It was the biggest drop Gartner has documented in more than two decades of tracking the market, echoing data compiled by Canalys, which released similar figures showing double-digit declines.

The dismal PC numbers coincide with a period of upheaval for the global tech industry, which is now parsing a plethora of restrictions Washington imposed on chip and technology exports to China last week. Leading chipmaker Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. had its biggest drop ever on Tuesday as the market reacted to the expanded sanctions.

PC vendors and major suppliers like Advanced Micro Devices Inc. had already warned of a market slowdown this year, emphasizing the need for new growth to replace demand from remote work and online learning as the pandemic eases. Although shipping volume remains comparable to pre-pandemic levels and robust hiring numbers suggest positive commercial demand, it’s likely that economic headwinds will impact IT spending for both business and personal use into next year, according to Canalys.

“The rapid deterioration in demand across all segments is a worrying sign not only for vendors, but for stakeholders across the supply chain,” Canalys senior analyst Ishan Dutt said. “Intel and AMD are facing headwinds from weakness in their PC businesses, and smaller makers of components from ICs to memory are cutting production and lowering earnings forecasts.”

The market is likely to recover by the second half of 2023, Dutt added.

Lenovo Group Ltd. remained the top global PC maker in the third quarter, though its shipments fell around 15%, according to Gartner. Among the top five vendors, HP Inc. saw the largest decline in the third quarter with a 28% drop.

(Updates with TSMC share decline)

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