The pandemic prompted work- and learn-from-home orders worldwide, resulting in huge demand for affordable, education-focused models like Chromebooks. As we return to normal, demand for such products is quickly drying up. Still, not many expected it to be so sudden.

We now have further evidence pointing to a decline in the low-end laptop market.

Mercury Research (via PCMag) said the PC industry just experienced its biggest quarter-over-quarter decline in laptop CPU shipments. Shipments fell by more than 18 million units in the third quarter compared to the previous quarter, the PC component market research firm said.

Lower-end chips like Intel Celeron and AMD Athlon models were among those hit hardest by declining demand. Mercury Research President Dean McCarron described the scenario as the worst on-quarter downturn for mobile CPUs in the history of the PC CPU market.

In an e-mail to PCMag, McCarron said declining entry-level CPU shipments have no connection to the ongoing global chip shortage. Instead, he pointed to a reduction in demand for entry-level laptops like Google Chromebooks.

McCarron told PCMag that some pullback was expected, but the return to pre-Covid volumes was instantaneous rather than gradual.

Mercury’s findings jive with what we heard from Canalys earlier this week, when the firm said Chromebook shipments had dipped 52 percent quarter on quarter and 37 percent year over year, to 5.8 million units in Q3. Tablet shipments also fell 15 percent in the most recent quarter, to 37.7 million units.