Demand for PCs hit its highest point in ten years in 2020, spawned by primarily consumer demand according to research from the world’s top market analysts.
The global PC market continued its strong 2020 growth in the final quarter of the year as the holiday season saw consumers spend up on PCs, driven by laptop demand.
For both the fourth quarter of 2020, and the entire year, Canalys, Gartner and IDC all reported that Lenovo took out top spot in the vendor competition with approximately 25 per cent market share. HP was in second place on each of the analyst rankings, followed by Dell, Apple and Acer.
Each of the analyst firms tabulates data differently so what follows is a summary of findings from Gartner, IDC and Canalys.
Gartner reported 79.4 million units were shipped in the fourth quarter of 2020, a 10.7 percent increase from the fourth quarter of 2019.
PC shipments reached 275 million units in 2020, a 4.8 percent increase from 2019 and the highest growth in ten years, Gartner said.
“The worldwide PC market saw a strong finish to 2020, recording a third consecutive quarter of year over year growth, although there continued to be supply shortages due to this high demand,” Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa said.
“Robust consumer PC demand again drove sales, particularly in regions where governments maintain stay-at-home orders as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Prior to 2020, consumers had been shifting to a phone-first focus, yet the pandemic reversed this trend.
“PCs have resurfaced as an essential device as consumers, including younger children, are relying on them to for work, school, socializing and be entertained from their homes.
“Business PC spending was again weaker this quarter, as the urgent purchases for remote work peaked earlier in the year. However, in certain regions like China where economic recovery from the pandemic has already begun, business growth was slightly stronger.”
Kitagawa said this momentum was likely to continue through at least the first half of 2021.
Gartner does not include Chromebook shipments in its traditional PC market figures.
In its 2020 fourth quarter findings, IDC reported 2020 fourth quarter global shipments grow 26.1 percent year over year to 91.6 million units. The same category of devices grew 13.1% year over year for the full year 2020 with the catalysts being work from home, remote learning, and restored consumer demand, the firm said.
"Demand is pushing the PC market forward and all signs indicate this surge still has a way to go," IDC program VP Ryan Reith said.
"The obvious drivers for last year's growth centered around work from home and remote learning needs, but the strength of the consumer market should not be overlooked.
“We continue to see gaming PCs and monitor sales at all-time highs and Chrome-based devices are expanding beyond education into the consumer market. In retrospect, the pandemic not only fueled PC market demand but also created opportunities that resulted in a market expansion."
Figures from Canalys echoed those from Gartner and IDC with the firm reporting that growth accelerated in the final quarter of last year.
Canalys said shipments of desktops, notebooks and workstations increased by 25 percent from a year ago to reach a record 90.3 million units.
Shipments in Q4 were up 13 percent sequentially over what the firm described as a stellar performance in Q3. On the back of this remarkable recovery after a supply-constrained Q1, total PC shipments in 2020 grew 11 percent and hit 297.0 million units.
Canalys said it represented the highest full-year growth since in ten years and the highest shipment volume since 2014.
Market growth in 2020 was singlehandedly driven by notebooks and mobile workstations, Canalys said. Shipments of these devices increased 44 percent from 2019 to reach 235.1 million units. Conversely, Canalys reported that desktop and desktop workstation shipments fell 20 percent from last year to reach 61.9 million units in 2020.
The analyst firm’s figures do not include tablets.
“The industry deserves all the success that has come its way,” Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi said.
“We would be in a very different position had it not been for the commitment of the PC industry, including the vendors, the supply chain and the distribution channel, to make sure that every bit of market demand was met.
“The digital transformation the world has undertaken over the past year is unparalleled, and PCs were at the heart of this change.
“As the world readies itself to get vaccinated and overcome the COVID-19 virus, it is important to remember that PCs have played a vital role at every stage of this fight, from understanding the virus and synthesizing the vaccine, to social monitoring and vaccine roll-out. It is going to be extremely difficult to write off the PC as some of us did a few years ago. PCs are here to stay.”