Notebook PC Sales Almost Doubled in Q1

Posted on May 13, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Chrome OS, Hardware, Mac and macOS, Mobile, Windows with 23 Comments

A new report from Strategy Analytics claims that hardware makers sold 68.2 million notebook PCs in the first quarter, a year-over-year gain of 81 percent. Chromebooks saw the biggest growth and are now number two behind Windows-based PCs and well ahead of the Mac.

“Vendors managed to deliver notebooks despite the ongoing components shortage and big vendors managed to fulfill large orders before their original delivery date,” Strategy Analytics director Eric Smith said of the quarter. “The emerging hybrid work pattern, as well as the continuing need for learn-from-home devices, added to consumer upgrade sales, making Q1 2021 the strongest first quarter after many years. The favorable comparison to the dire situation last year also helped with the strong growth figures.”

Lenovo was the number one maker of notebook computers and sold 16.3 million units, up 84 percent from the 8.9 million it sold in the year-ago (and mostly pre-COVID) quarter. HP was number two with 15.4 million units and 91 percent growth, and Dell came in third with 10 million units sold and 37 percent growth. Apple and Acer rounded out the top five with 5.7 million and 4.9 million units sold, respectively.

Sales of Windows-based notebook PCs rose 66 percent in the quarter to 49.8 million units, the firm claims. But Chromebook sales surged 174 percent to 12.1 million units sold, more than doubling the 5.7 million Macs that Apple sold. “Other” notebook PCs account for just 0.6 million units sold. So Windows accounts for 73 percent of all notebook PCs sold in the first quarter, compared to 17.7 percent for Chrome OS and 8.4 percent for macOS.

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Comments (23)

23 responses to “Notebook PC Sales Almost Doubled in Q1”

  1. spiderman2

    "but but with a table and/or a smartphone I can do everything"

  2. curtisspendlove

    My concern here is that the … “Covid bubble”? … is driving a lot of people / companies / orgs to upgrade out of cycle. Which means the naturally-dispersed upgrade cycles are now going to align and there will be like two years of very low sales.


    I guess there would at least be a large upgrade year every few years. And who knows. Maybe it will naturally spread out over time again. But I think 2022 or 2023 is going to be a huge issue for hardware manufacturers.

    • ringofvoid

      The newer Chromebooks sold this quarter generally have a much longer Automated Update Expiration date that previous devices. Previously, it was generally three years, now it's seven to eight. Due to the lower hardware requirements for the OS, these devices are likely to be quite usable for that lifespan. I think you're very right about low sales at some point in the future.

    • VancouverNinja

      Sure but what it is doing is underlining the preference for Window as the OS of choice for business and consumers. I really think in 5-7 years that Apple will have made a mistake with "Apple Silicon". It serves their profit goals today but kill them down the road.

      • bkkcanuck

        "Sure but what it is doing is underlining the preference for Window as the OS of choice for business and consumers. I really think in 5-7 years that Apple will have made a mistake with "Apple Silicon". It serves their profit goals today but kill them down the road."

        Most of the development I am involved in on "business apps" (financial / banking) is not based on Windows. Windows is however the most common certified OS platform for our UIs, but our UIs do not require Windows. I would not be surprised if this is not uncommon for newer development. There is platform specific implementations done for UIs for our systems, but that is generally done by the financial institutions themselves (iPads for Advisors, or alternative web based app development specific to the customer). As for consumers, I would suspect the vast majority of those don't have any real advanced requirements that a Chromebook would not be sufficient for their use. They purchase Windows because of familiarity more than any other reason (IMHO).


        The move to custom silicon based on the ARM instruction-set .... not a mistake... In fact the only legacy devices stuck on x86 in that time will likely be some Windows machines .... the vast majority of Chromebooks will be ARM based, as well as Macs...

      • curtisspendlove

        Heh. I’ve seen all sorts of people that have actually tried an M1 Mac raving about it.


        I don’t think they made any sort of mistake. Not short term. Not long term.


        Other manufacturers will catch up, surely. But Apple is enjoying a spotlight at the moment. And they love their spotlight.

        • VancouverNinja

          Curtis, I have never, like ever, talked to someone who has bought a new Apple device that has not been raving about it. Most people like to support their buying decisions. I just can't get over how inferior the OS is to Windows and that I am expected to pay through the nose for the privilege to use it. Not to mention forcing devs to purchase a macOS to compile their code just doubled down on my feelings that Apple doesn't deserve the good will it gets - it doesn't ever give it back in kind. Let people choose but everything they are doing is meant to lock people into their over priced platforms. Without Microsoft the world would be screwed.

          • bkkcanuck

            If you are a developer and you don't buy the hardware that your code is targeted for... then you are an absolute idiot.

          • curtisspendlove

            I’m pretty sure we have gone back and forth over this before.


            macOS is my fastest and most productive OS.


            Windows is my third, right behind every flavor of Linux.


            Most of your claims are simply preference and familiarity.


            In my experience, with the people I talk to (and it is a wide variety of people from all walks of life); none of them would *choose* Windows.


            They *have* to use it. Or they don’t want to learn anything else so Windows is their default option.

            • bkkcanuck

              I have been back using Windows for the last 6 months straight (partly because of the number of hours per month has not given me a full day off for that period) because of the contract I am working on and the company who I am contracted for being Windows for the development environment... I was mostly on Windows til 2008 (though I had a Sun Sparc machine for playing with), but even with all that experience - I am way way more productive as a developer on macOS than on Windows.

      • Greg Green

        Apple has essentially made an i6 on their first try. The growth curves for performance over the last ten years are far superior for apple’s chips then they are for intel’s and apple’s integrated graphics is about five times faster than intel’s. In other words this is as close as intel will be to apple for a while.


        Until apple stumbles or intel gets its stride back the king of laptop and small form performance will be the M series chips. They’ll be quieter and cooler too.

        • VancouverNinja

          That's my point, the other processor companies are not going anywhere and now the fuse is lit.

        • crp0908

          With the superior performance of M series chips, should we expect better sales for Apple devices? Alas, devices with M series chips still cannot run Windows. Therefore, the market has spoken accordingly.


          Same goes for ARM chips. Sure, they have their advantages versus Intel chips. But those lingering Windows x64 compatibility issues make them more of a novelty instead of a mainstream productivity workhorse. When those compatibility issues are no longer an issue, then the game will have finally indeed changed.

          • VancouverNinja

            Is editing gone? That last post was for someone else. Anyone know why we can't edit anymore?


          • toukale

            You bring Windows up to someone who is talking about Apples A-series chips. Why do some folks get so offended and threaten because Apple made a great pc chip on their first try. Newsflash, your windows x64 is not going anywhere and I don't think Apple is aiming for that crowd so calm down.

      • toukale

        I don't get this argument at all. How is Apple doing their "Apple Silicon" going to kill them? Apple is not doing anything differently then they've been doing for the past decade with their A-series. On top of that they have scale on their side and control their own destiny. Some folks just don't get Apple don't care much for the market share, they care mostly about the profit parts. If we've learn anything this past decade, no company on earth have mastered that game better. They are the envy of every company but somehow you think they will regret going alone. Who is going to make them regret that decision? "Intel?" don't make me laugh.

        • VancouverNinja

          I wanted to soften it somewhat but editing is gone now. Look Apple is going it all alone and we have no idea the types of breakthroughs or innovations that can come from the other non-Apple "Silicon". There are good chances that they will continue to migrate further down Apple specific features, and not be able to keep up as the other competitors ramp up. Plus the majority are not buying Apple PCs for their processor - they are simply buying Macs. And as long as Apple PCs are based on macOS they will always have a very profitable but limited market share relative to Windows PCs. The chip means nothing except to Apple.

          • bkkcanuck

            The breakthroughs that you are talking about in silicon that would have an impact on Apple -- is advances at the fabs (TSMC, Global Foundries, and even Intel). If that happens, Apple will just change fabs to whoever has the best process at the time (yes even Intel wants Apple's business when it comes to manufacturing 400+ million chips a year -- regardless of the processor they are fabricating). x86 is not suddenly going to overtake ARM as an architecture (Apple makes it's own architecture and uses the ARM instruction set), as they have had to do some pretty smart changes to x86 to keep it relevant up until they lost the lead in fabricating (having the lead in fabrication can hide inefficiencies in chip design). The extra component to translate x86 instructions to micro operations (RISCish operations) is likely one of the things that causes x86 to fall behind ARM in efficiency). BTW, Apple has probably as many people working on chip design etc. that AMD does. The core team that Apple acquired as their core chip design a decade ago were not new to RISC chip designs back then.

        • VancouverNinja

          Oh yeah don't believe that in decade everything could be very different. If you have followed tech for a few decades it is simply destine to occur - how it will unfold...who knows. ?

  3. bluvg

    Goodness, how Dell has fallen.

  4. coeus89

    Big growth. Looks like Chrome OS is eating Windows' lunch a bit.

  5. dsamuilov

    I have not seen many Chromebooks in the wild. I have a feeling that they are mostly for K12.


    Both my kids (13 yo and 10 yo) received brand new Chromebooks to use during covid for online education. My 13 yo is in 8th grade and was told: "this is your Chromebook until you finish senior year in high school. You have to return it when you leave the county or finish senior year". My 10 yo has to return it at the end of the school year.


    That's a purchase with an expected lifespan of 4 full years for his Chromebook.


    Yes, there is a spike in Chromebooks, but it looks like it's just because of the need in the school market.

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