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Coronavirus could cause HUGE shock to PC shipments in 2020

(Image credit: Laptop Mag)

The coronavirus -- a deadly virus that has infected more than 76,000 people and killed more than 2,200 -- is also threatening the health of the global PC market. Technology research firm Canalys (via TechCrunch) anticipates a 3% minimum drop in PC shipments due to the disruptive respiratory illness.

That figure, though, is based on Canalys' "best-case scenario" forecast, which suggests that the PC industry will only suffer a 3.4% year-over-year decline -- a drop from last year's 396 million units down to 382 million units -- if there is successful containment of the lethal contagion by spring.

"In the best-case scenario," Canalys wrote, "production levels are expected to revert to full capacity by April 2020, hence the biggest hit will be to sell-in shipments in the first two quarters." 

In this optimistic forecast, Canalys expects Q1 and Q2 2020 to suffer a 10% and 9% loss, respectively, with the PC supply market normalizing by Q3 2020.

However, if the COVID-19 outbreak continues to get out of hand, Canalys' "worst-case scenario" forecast anticipates a 9% plummet in the volume of PCs that will ship worldwide. As a result, the industry could experience an absence of 34 million units compared to last year.

In this worst-case scenario, Canalys doesn't expect production levels to normalize until June 2020. Q1, Q2, and Q3 may suffer a decline of 21%, 23%, and 6%, respectively. In this pessimistic forecast, Canalys anticipates the PC industry will restabilize by Q4 2020.

With a confidence rate of 80%, Canalys suspects that the best-case scenario forecast will prevail.

Canalys' analysis stemmed from several sources including vendors, manufacturers, supply-chain companies, channel partners, retailers and software publishers.

This report is a revision of Canalys' previous projections to clients; The technology firm updates its forecast estimates in the seventh week of every quarter.