A surge vs. a trend

There is a difference, you know—or maybe you don’t.

A year ago, proclamations abound that PC shipments were showing continued strength in Q1 2021 even though there were component shortages.

Here at JPR, we were puzzled over the statement “continued strength.” Where did a million new users suddenly come from? The “news” only got better. It seems that traditional PCs (desktops, notebooks, and workstations) reached 86.7 million units during the third quarter of 2021, up 3.9% from the prior year.

Really? You think little green men just landed on Earth and are buying PCs? If not, where did the new customers come from? Come on, guys, we said, surely you know this is a surge, not a trend. Your superexpensive research firms must know that, right?

Guess not.

Guess none of them had been around before 2015. It’s a whole new world to them.

Imagine their disappointment when their counters reported global shipments of traditional PCs, including desktops, notebooks, and workstations, declined 5.1% in the first quarter of 2022.

Wait a minute, where did all those new buyers go? Please come back (I think one of them was named Shane*).

Well, kids, it’s just like the emperor’s new clothes—they were never there—you and your hungry clients just wanted them to be there. So, you told your clients what they wanted to hear, and what their investors wanted to hear, and so share prices went up, and everyone got bonuses. Everyone was happy, except for the poor saps who bought high, thinking the train ride wouldn’t end. But it did, as they all do.

And what did we learn from all this? What did we learn about the crypto gold rush? What did we learn from all those Chromebook sales that were forecasted to be a growth market over the next five years and fizzled?

Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It’s like what PT Barnum said, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

Try not to be that guy. Remember what grandma said: “If it sounds too good to be true—then it is.”

* (Millennials and Gen Z test)