The laptop Market in 2022: OEM, refurbished ICT, & recycling

Rafael Perez Medina
July 12, 2022

In 2022 we use laptops every day to work, entertain or create. The evolution from the first flip-form laptop (Epson HX-20) to the Apple M1, has been exponential in its evolution and improvement in design and capabilities. From writing 4 lines of 20 characters to editing feature films on the same computer design. In 2021 the absolute global mass of laptops was 340 million units sold and shipped (1). Currently the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) market is divided among 5 large companies, which represent 78.8%: Lenovo (24.1%), HP (21.7%), Dell (17.4%), Apple (8.5%) and Acer (7.1%), with the rest of the market divided among thousands of less massive manufacturers that respond to specific processing needs. All of this equipment refers to new equipment sold by these players.  

This frenetic pace of production and astronomical sales tells us only part of the big picture, considering that the companies that buy such equipment replace it every 3-5 years (depending on their sector and technological needs). This market is part of a complex interaction between ODM (Original Design Manufacturer) and EMS (Electronics Manufacturing Services) to produce all the components and parts necessary for these economic giants to meet the demand. EMS takes on the task of making the GPUs and CPUs we all use (2).

The supply of laptops and notebooks has a sector that refers to equipment repaired to extend its use: after its cycle of use given by a first buyer, this equipment is repaired for reuse. The term refurbished refers to a broad category of products that are recertified (either by OEMs or by a third party that performs tests on the equipment) or repaired to be re-sold. We highlight the growth of digital marketplaces such as Swappa (US), Amazon renewed (US), Back Market (Fr) and Refurbed (Ge). Taking into account that the market had a value of 9,340.22 million in 2020, it is expected that the value of this market will reach about 14,763.12 million in 2027 (3). One of the most important growth factors in this sector has been the COVID-19 pandemic, leading OEMs to accelerate their programs to repair their own equipment for resale.

The laptop recycling market has some players actively recovering certain CRMs (such as Gold, Palladium, Tantalum and Tungsten) at the cost of not being able to recover others, thus recovering the scarcer ones.

It is worth noting the effort that OEMs are making to recirculate certain materials within their production chains and technical cycles. A good example is Apple: in several products they use 100% recycled aluminum for their chassis (MacBookAir, Mac mini, iPad, Ipad, Ipad, Apple Watch), on the other hand they use recycled tin in their soldering for integrated circuits (MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, 27-inch iMac, Mac Pro, Pro Display XDR, Mac mini, iPad Pro, iPad Air, iPad, iPad mini, iPhone) and use 100% recycled tungsten for their taptic engine (Iphone 12, Apple Watch Series 6) (4). These reclaimed materials come from their EoL program they propose to their customers: Apple buyers are encouraged once they reach the end of their use of their equipment to bring them to their stores to be recycled in different technical cycles.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

(1) Global PC shipments pass 340 million in 2021 and 2022 is set to be even stronger , Canalys. https://canalys-prod-public.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/static/press_release/2022/1722929869Canalys_PR-_Global-PC_Shipments-Q4-2021.pdf

(2) EMS (Electronics Manufacturing Services): Foxconn, Pegatron, Wistron, Solectron, Compal Electronics, Quanta Computer, Zollner Electronics, etc.

(3) Global Refurbished PC Market Research Report 2021, Market Research, report.

https://www.marketresearch.com/QYResearch-Group-v3531/Global-Refurbished-PC-Research-14240533/

(4) Apple Environmental Report 2021

https://www.apple.com/environment/pdf/Apple_Environmental_Progress_Report_2021.pdf