With the right headwinds, sales of mobile computing devices in the channel could return to growth by the second half of 2022.

Sales of mobile computing devices through distribution could return to growth by the second half of the year. However, that is dependent on supply issues easing and cost-of-living challenges having a reduced impact, according to research firm Context.

The figures come from Context’s new forecasting report which reveals that demand for mobile computing continues to drive the PC market. It expects this demand to remain high, especially among businesses. However, organizations are being more discerning about purchases, and economic and geopolitical uncertainty might hit consumer sales.

Availability and Demand

Supply and demand remains a key issue. There are more mobile computing products available than last year; European distributors are holding seven to nine weeks of stock. The problem, notes Context, is that it’s not always the right stock. Some products that have been in transit for many months are outdated by the time they arrive. Russia’s war in Ukraine and additional COVID lockdowns in Asia have also added to supply chain headaches and costs.

But there are some positives. Windows 11 migration will drive more PC sales in the second half of the year, as may an increased appetite for more sustainable and secure products.

With these factors in mind, Context has developed two forecasts for the next year.

It based the first on a pessimistic scenario. Here, supply improves but the disconnect between product availability and demand continues, desktop demand remains soft, and economic factors such as inflation hit consumer and commercial demand.

In this case, the company says mobile computing adoption could slide by nearly 22% once the numbers are counted in the second quarter. That decline could improve to just 1% in the third quarter, Context says. This then will return to low growth in the fourth quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023. For desktop computers in this scenario, adoption would get worse from Q2 to Q3, declining by 5.6% and 6.9%, respectively, before rising again – albeit not to positive levels.

The second, more optimistic scenario, imagines improvements in supply and desktop demand. There could also be price drops, second-quarter excess stock selling out, and economic factors having a smaller impact. In this situation, mobile computing unit sales could go from a 7.1% decline in the second quarter to 10.9% growth in the third quarter. Then, sales would then stabilise in the fourth quarter and tail off in the first quarter of next year. Desktop sales would hover at a 2.3% decline in the second quarter and stay at a similar level (−2.7%) in the third quarter before becoming positive in the following two quarters.