Can PCs Continue Their Comeback Run?

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The most important thing in tech today is …

the strength of PC demand. Global PC shipments are still running into the second half, though the U.S. picture is murkier. Gartner estimates that worldwide shipments were up 4.6% from April through June, and U.S. shipments were down 3.7%.

What we have here is multiple storylines colliding:

PC sales surged during the pandemic in 2020, as workers scrambled to stay productive outside the office.

At the same time, semiconductor shortages have made it impossible for all kinds of manufacturers, including PC makers, to satisfy demand.

Now that the global economy is reopening (granted, in fits and starts), there are open questions about the impact on the PC market. Normally we would be heading into a “back to school” season for PCs, with students buying equipment like laptops and webcams. But did that demand get pulled forward into 2020 with the demands of remote and hybrid schooling? Also, workers are returning to the office. Will that spark a significant enterprise refresh cycle for PCs and hardware? Or did most employers do the bulk of their tech spending already?

Why is this important?

Apple is at the beginning of a major transition to using its own chips in PCs. Microsoft is getting ready to launch a major OS update, Windows 11, at the end of the year. Intel and AMD have a lot riding on the idea that last year’s uptick in PC demand won’t completely evaporate.

So far, the numbers point to continuing strength in PC demand. Gartner says the weaker U.S. number was mostly because of component shortages, making it hard to supply corporate laptops. For a better sense of what’s going on here, investors will be using these numbers as a baseline and factoring in new data and guidance from the next month’s earnings reports.

Coming up today on CNBC’s TechCheck, 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT …

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly, Arctic Wolf CEO Brian NeSmith

While you were sleeping …

France's antitrust watchdog slapped a 500 million euro ($593 million) fine on Alphabet's Google on Tuesday for failing to comply with the regulator's orders on how to conduct talks with the country's news publishers in a row over copyright. Reuters

Arctic Wolf, a managed cybersecurity company that offers “security operations-as-a-concierge” service, has raised $150 million at Series F. TechCrunch

Ring’s end-to-end encryption for video streams is leaving technical preview, is now available to US users, and is currently rolling out globally, the Amazon-owned company announced on Tuesday. The opt-in feature makes it so that your video streams can only be viewed by you on an enrolled iOS or Android device, meaning that Ring can’t access that footage even if it wanted to. The Verge

In the broader world …

Inflation surged in June at its fastest pace in nearly 13 years amid a burst in used vehicle costs and price increases in food and energy, the Labor Department reported Tuesday. CNBC

On the horizon …

Today at 2 p.m. ET: Fortt Knox 1:1 with Medtronic CEO Geoff Martha

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