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Japan 2020 laptop shipments hit record high on teleworking

A computer screen shows a data image for a vaccination coupon at the local office for COVID-19 vaccination preparation at Tokyo's Sumida Ward office on Jan. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Shipments of laptop computers in Japan surged 25.1 percent in 2020 to hit a record high due to increased teleworking amid the novel coronavirus pandemic and the government's policy to supply computers to each elementary and junior high school student, an industry body said Tuesday.

    Laptop shipments reached 8.9 million units, but fell 0.2 percent by value to 679.7 billion yen ($6.6 billion) from a year earlier, partly because demand concentrated on low-priced laptops to secure units in a limited budget to distribute them to schools, the Japan Electronics and Information Technology Industries Association said.

    The Japanese government has promoted the use of information technology in education since before the spread of the coronavirus, although Japan is behind in IT education efforts compared with other developed countries. The pandemic accelerated the schedule of the personal computer distribution, and most municipalities will complete handing out computers or tablets to every student in their schools by the end of March.

    Regarding demand related to teleworking, the purchase of PCs for working from home further increased since the government called for less commuting as the country declared its first state of emergency for urban areas such as Tokyo in April and expanded it to other parts of the country later in the month and May.

    Meanwhile, shipments of desktop computers dropped 41.5 percent to 1.5 million units following a temporary rise in 2019, when replacement demand was boosted ahead of an expiration of support for the Windows 7 operating system in January 2020. Shipments by value declined 34.4 percent to 151.6 billion yen.

    Overall PC shipments rose 7.4 percent to 10.45 million units, with those by value standing at 831.3 billion yen, down 8.9 percent from the previous year.

    In December alone, laptop shipments more than doubled from a year earlier to 1.5 million units, increasing 31.1 percent by value to reach 85.5 billion yen.

    Desktop shipments sank 55.2 percent by volume to 122,000 units and dropped 50.7 percent by value to 12.1 billion yen.

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