May 2021

Welcome to this month's IT Market Alert from KnowledgeBus. This alert is designed to deliver some key market knowledge viewed during April 2021 that should help you get more from your IT procurement going forwards.


Executive Summary

  • Inkjet MFPs doing well in Europe, but printers overall are suffering
  • Notebook sales are strong
  • Semiconductor shortage continues to bite


The largest number of price increases happened on April 13th, with 53,113.

Jump to Monthly Stats

CONTEXT Research's IT channel analysis showed channel revenues slowing down at the end of Q1 more sharply than many other countries in Europe. The country narrowly stayed above CONTEXT's weekly revenue trend index, which measures average revenues on a four-weekly bases during 2019.

Some product subcategories continue to do well, including PCs overall and notebooks in particular. Chromebooks are enjoying tremendous success as people working from home flock to these cheap, cloud-connected devices.


Exchange Rate

The only way was up for the EUR/USD pair in April. It started at 1.1748 on April 1, rising to 1.1768 the next day before a very gentle pullback to 1.1755. From there, it rose in a series of gentle lifts and plateaus. It increased to 1.1877 on April 7, resting for several days until April 13, when it rose from 1.1917 to 1.1967 the next day. It rose to 1.2046 on April 20 before pulling back slightly and then rising again to 1.2095 on April 24. It then hit its monthly high of 1.2124 on April 29 before falling back to finish at 1.2072 April 30.

British Pound (GBP) per 1 Euro (EUR)

The EUR/GBP pair began at 0.8638 and then slipped steadily to 0.8492 on April 5. From there, it rose sharply to 0.8674 on April 11, where it plateaued until April 16, when it began a fall from 0.8679 to 0.8623 on April 20. It then rose to a monthly high of 0.8709 on April 25, pulling back slightly to finish the month at 8694.

US Dollar (USD) per 1 Euro (EUR)

The Euro rose on the back of positive predictions from the International Monetary Fund, which said that its economy was set to return to pre-crisis levels in 2022. Nevertheless, the end of the month bought dire news for the Eurozone, as Eurostat figures showed that regional GDP had fallen 0.6% in Q1, officially heralding a double-dip recession.

Euro (EUR) per 1 British Pound (GBP)

US Dollar (USD) per 1 British Pound (GBP)

Price Changes and News Through April 2021


Phones and Tablets


European smartphone sales grew by 6% YoY in Q1 2021, reported Counterpoint Research. However, the pandemic has still kept the market slightly below pre-pandemic levels. Samsung regained the top spot from Apple overall, although the iPhone is still the leader in the UK market.

Tablet shipments remained extremely high, IDC said, growing 55.2% YoY in Q1 to reach 39.9m units, which is the highest annual growth since 2013. Apple retained the top spot with a 31.7% market share in Q1, followed by Samsung (20%), Lenovo (9.4%), and Amazon at 8.7%.

Traditional PCs

Global shipments of traditional PCs, including desktops, notebooks, and workstations, grew 55.2% YoY to 84m in Q1 2021, said IDC. Shortages in the first quarter of 2020 helped stoke the YoY comparison, it added. An 8% QoQ decline from Q4 2020 was the smallest we've seen since Q1 2012. Average selling prices have risen thanks to the ongoing component shortage. Lenovo led the pack In Q1 with 24.3% market share, followed by HP (22.9%), Dell (15.4%), Apple (8%) and Acer (7%).

Notebook demand was solid in the EMEA region, the company added, with Q1 shipments up 44.1% YoY to 23.9 million units. Consumer took the lion's share of that growth at 65.7%, but commercial growth reached a respectable 30.1%. Growth in notebook shipments soared 74.2% to 12.6m units at the expense of desktops, which fell 21.0%.

Consumer growth outpaced commercial in the Western European PC market, which enjoyed an overall growth of 42.0% YoY in shipments. Consumer growth in Western Europe hit 75.4% YoY, totalling 6.3 million units. Desktop shipments did well in the consumer space thanks to continued demand for gaming rigs, which boosted growth to 46.6% YoY.

PC fortunes in the Western European commercial market were far from shabby. It enjoyed a solid growth of 26.0% YoY thanks mostly to demand in the education and SMB customer segments.

The share of the top five vendors slipped to 80.5% from 82.4% YoY, indicating that consolidation in the space is slowing. HP retained the top PC slot in EMEA, with a 25.8% market share on 41.2% YoY growth. It knocked Lenovo (including Fujitsu) into second place with a 25.0% market share, down 1.2%. Dell enjoyed a 13.9% market share, followed by Acer (8.5%), and ASUS (7.4%) making up the rest of the top five.

Premium Ultramobiles & Wearables

IDC also a 357.1% YoY spike in Chromebook shipments to 13m in Q1 from 2.8m. HP led the pack with a 33.5% market share, followed by Lenovo (25.6%), Acer (14.5%), Dell (11.3%), and Samsung (8%).

The company also tracked a 12.2% YoY growth in shipments of smart home products in Europe during Q4 2020, reaching 41.3 million units. That represented a recovery from a negative first half. Video entertainment (including smart TVs) made up 48.4% of the market, reaching more than 20 million units, representing a growth of 11.4% compared to the previous year. Shipments of digital media adaptors like the Chromecast grew 35.4%.

Smart speakers grew 11.9% to take a 28.0% share of the market, dominated by Amazon and Google, but the biggest growth was reserved for home monitoring, security, lighting, and thermostat equipment, which IDC accounts for as a single sub-segment. That grew by 12.2% you, making up over eight million units.

Processors, MEMs, Semiconductors

Gartner saw worldwide semiconductor revenues grow 10.4% in 2020 to reach $466.2bn. Memory, GPUs, and 5G chipsets led the charge, while automotive electronics suffered due to lower spending as manufacturers adapted to COVID-10 conditions.

The Semiconductor Industry Association tracked a 17.8% YoY increase in global semiconductor sales in Q1 to reach $123.1bn. That represented a 3.6% QoQ increase.

The semiconductor market continues to suffer from supply constraints, with Ford and GM temporarily shuttering plants as constraints tighten. Reports also emerged of a supply crunch at Apple that restricted production of its ARM-based M1 chip, with a knock-on effect on Macbook Pro units. Counterpoint Research predicted that the foundry capacity shortage would last longer than a year with increasing foundry costs, and said that even though foundry prices have stabilised for 2021, prices would rise at least 10-20% in 2022 as design houses negotiate foundry costs and capacity quotas.

The shortage wasn't helped by a power outage at TSMC in mid-April, which TrendForce expects will exacerbate the shortage of automotive components.


DRAM prices will rise 18-23% QoQ in Q2 2021 due to peak season demand, said TrendForce. The ASP of mainstream DDR4 1G*8 2666Mbps modules had already increased by nearly 25% QoQ as of mid-April, exceeding its expectations. Prices were also rising across various DRAM product categories in 2Q21, including DDR3/4 specialty DRAM, mobile DRAM, graphics DRAM, and server DRAM. The latter was also experiencing higher-than-expected price hikes, reaching 20-205% in Q2, thanks to its connection with PC DRAM, which the company said would see a 23-28% rise in ASP during Q2 thanks to increased notebook production.


Seagate announced that it had shipped three zettabytes of hard-drive storage. What's interesting is that the third zettabyte shipped in the last two years. Clearly there's still plenty of life in this category.

Cryptocurrency seems to be affecting everything from energy usage (and therefore the climate) to GPU availability. Now it's likely to affect storage too. A new cryptocurrency called Chia, which started trading at the beginning of May, relies not on computing power to mine new coins but on storage. Consequently, reports emerged of HDD and SSD hoarding in the Chinese channel. Keep watching to see if that metastasises to the west.


CONTEXT Research found that the lockdown hit sales of large-format displays in Western Europe last year, and things haven't been much better in Q1. These systems are used in public settings, so the lower sales make sense. The bright spot has been interactive screens, which saw higher demand as companies figured out how to use their existing work spaces safely. That product category saw a 37% YoY growth in volume sales and a 12% growth in revenues.


CONTEXT saw a healthier printer revenue market across Europe in the 11 weeks of 2021, driven by home-bound students and workers. February saw inkjet MFP shipments grow 41% YoY and revenues grow 49% YoY in February. Nevertheless, it was the only subcategory that stayed above the company's 2019 revenue index. Overall print revenues were down in the UK as we moved into Q2, reflecting most of the rest of Europe.


Nevertheless, the company saw an 11% YoY reduction in the average number of printed pages across all printer subcategories in Q1 2021. The company also saw a YoY increase of 33% printed for ink bottles in Q1.

Network Products

The network equipment sector suffered just as badly from the semiconductor shortage as other subcategories. Reports emerged of a supply squeeze among network router and switch vendors, forcing US ISPs to order a year in advance. Demand in this sector rose slightly in Europe, according to CONTEXT's research, but still remained below the company's weekly revenue trend index.


Monthly Stats

Price increases saw two pronounced highs. The first, on April 13, saw them rise to 53,113. The second, on April 26, took price increases to 49,252. There was a more moderate increase to 32,987 from April 9-11. The lowest number of price increases fell on April 29, at 3,657. Price decreases saw four noticeable peaks, to 45,177 on April 2-4, 40,028 on April 7, 48,041 on April 21, and 36,462 on April 28.

Stock up saw three notable variations on an otherwise static month. Levels took a fall to a monthly low of 471 on April 6, followed by a spike to 8,232 the following day. Numbers reached a monthly high of 15,992 on April 13, the only time they broke into five figures. Stock down also hit its low of 4,695 on April 6 during an otherwise quiet month.

New Products April 2021

Prices and Stock Movements April 2021