PC Sales Growth is Slowing Down

Posted on July 13, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Chromebook, Chrome OS, Mac and macOS, Windows 10 with 18 Comments

As expected, PC sales growth is slowing dramatically as the global pandemic winds down, with PC makers selling 77.6 million units in Q2 2021.

Granted, that’s a gain of 11.7 percent over the year-ago quarter, a growth level would have seemed magical during the seven-year pre-pandemic period in which PC sales consistently fell every quarter. But compared to the previous two sequential quarters, it’s a big shortfall. IDC says that PC sales growth hit 55.9 percent growth in the first quarter of 2021, while Gartner claims the figure was 35.7 percent.

And now, both firms are sounding an alarm for future PC sales.

“Moving forward, rising prices could continue to slow PC demand through the next 6 to 12 months,” Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa says, noting the “marked deceleration in growth compared to the record” sales growth of one year ago.

“The market faces mixed signals as far as demand is concerned,” IDC senior research analyst Neha Mahajan added. “With businesses opening back up, demand potential in the commercial segment appears promising. However, there are also early indicators of consumer demand slowing down as people shift spending priorities after nearly a year of aggressive PC buying.”

Lenovo was again the world’s biggest PC maker, with sales of 18.6 million units delivering market share of 24 percent. HP was number two with 16.4 million units, and Dell was number three with about 13 million units sold. Apple came in fourth place with 6.1 million units sold, so the Mac represented just 7.9 percent of the PC market, a tiny gain over the 7.29 percent of the market it controlled in the year-ago quarter.

As you probably know, IDC and Gartner measure PC sales a bit differently; IDC includes Chromebook sales, for example, where Gartner does not. But Gartner singled out Chromebook growth in its report regardless, noting that “shipments were once again strong in the second quarter of 2021” and that the total combined worldwide PC/Chromebook market grew over 10 percent year over year, more than double the growth (4.6 percent) for just PCs.

Join the discussion!


Don't have a login but want to join the conversation? Become a Thurrott Premium or Basic User to participate

Comments (18)

18 responses to “PC Sales Growth is Slowing Down”

  1. navarac

    ....and I don't think that the introduction of Windows 11 will make much difference, either, somehow.

  2. ebraiter

    Back in about 2009, when netbooks were selling well, one of these so-called research companies claimed that there would be a steady growth in netbooks cumulating in huge sales 3 years later. Woops. They didn't read the tea leaves properly. The iPad came out in 2010 and demolished the netbook niche. The time when one of these so-called research companies said that netbooks would be ruling - they stopped manufacturing them.

    It goes to show that what ever one of these so-called research companies "predict", don't take them at their word.

    I'm sure they claimed that 2020 would be a slower sales year but it wasn't. Thanks to some pandemic.

    And I'm sure that unless MS changes it stance, there will be increased sales. My 2 year old laptop at work barely makes the minimum CPU age requirements of Win 11.

  3. crunchyfrog

    Laptops and PC sales were on an unnatural curve and needed to settle down. The one thing I really want to see growing again is the availability of graphic cards again at or below MSRP.

  4. bettyblue

    Not shocking at all. I bet Chromebooks are dropping as well, maybe even more since you can get PC's now.

    Outside of people that visit sites like this, nobody is excited about PC's and Windows any more. Most are indifferent. It has become a tool like a microwave oven is a tool.

    On Mac consumers, IMHO, are still excited about a new Mac...from a consumer perspective, not a tech person. That is partly due to the image that Apple pushes and achieves for the most part and partly due to just a much better ecosystem. A Mac buyer probably has an iPhone and possibly a watch...iPad etc. Things like Photo sync and iMessage all working together is a great experience in that ecosystem.

    • hrlngrv

      It may be A LOT easier to maintain consistency in an OS used by millions rather than billions. It CERTAINLY helps to care next to nothing at all for backwards compatibility and supporting older application software. The question is whether Windows could have achieved a user base in the billions without A LOT MORE attention to backwards compatibility. I figure it couldn't.

    • LocalPCGuy

      Chromebook sales are up 35% year over year. This is likely due to more elementary school districts using Google's low cost or free services, with a new $150 Chromebook begin good enough for kids. Our local school IT guru told me that they love Chromebooks. When a kid destroys one, they log in using a new one and all their homework and files are right there, in about 20 seconds after logging in.

      Chromebooks don't seem to be losing their luster at the current time.

      • bettyblue

        It is about money and nothing else.

        In my area all (or most) of the public schools use Chromebooks and Gsuite or whatever the name is. The private schools (there are a lot of them, Catholic) all use Windows/Office 365.

        The private schools have a dedicated IT person, if not more than one, 2-3 usually. The public schools use teachers that have the additional duty of taking care of the IT stuff...again money. Chromebooks and Gsuite are easier to maintain, but with that comes greatly reduced capability.

        The public schools still have to have a classroom full of Windows PC to teach CAD and Photoshop classes so they are never fully Chromebooks.

        • eric_rasmussen

          As a professional sysadmin, I can tell you that I have a strong preference for Chromebooks over anything Windows. Windows is a nightmarish slog of security issues, broken network links, things that randomly stop working for no apparent reason. Chromebooks, in the other hand, just work and work well. Since everything is tied to a Google account and sync'd with the cloud, if the Chromebook breaks it can be replaced with a new one and in less than 15 minutes it's as though nothing bad ever happened.

          Microsoft is removing more of their sync features in Windows 11. Windows does sync with OneDrive if you let it, but it doesn't always sync everything and it's not always clear why the sync doesn't work for some set of files or folders. It's maddening when you have hundreds of workstations to maintain. The executive's Chromebooks almost never have these kinds of problems and when they do it's usually an easy or obvious fix.

          So it's not just about money. It's also about doing something and doing it well with minimal fuss.

  5. crp0908

    Are we the only ones experiencing delays in shipments of PCs due to a component shortage? The demand is still there but the suppliers can't meet it because they're having problems obtaining components such as chips and glass for screens. As a result of the steady demand and lacking supply, prices of devices are going up. As a result of all of this, of course PC growth will be down.

  6. dnationsr

    with windows 11 there will be less, i'm sure.when ppl see windows 11 they will be confused..most ppl don't like change.

    • chrisltd

      I don’t think Win11 will move the needle much, but in general, I’d say that people do like new and shiny in their consumer technology. See: Apple, Samsung, and Tesla.

  7. JH_Radio

    In 2024 and 2025, we could see more PCs sell as gobs and gobs of them get tossed in the landfills since only the 8th generation chip and newer will run Windows 11. Or maybe that it is the year of Linux! lmao yeah right...

  8. hrlngrv

    Gosh. World gets back to normal, and PC market gets back to normal too. How horrible!

    Was it also not foreseeable that the flurry of PC purchases by private individuals to cope with the pandemic might just depress PC sales following the pandemic below pre-pandemic levels? If Windows 11 comes out this holiday season, it's likely to Windows's most disappointing new version launch since Windows ME.

  9. prebengh

    According to Gartner Apple sales grew from 5 mio units a year ago to now 6 mio units, a 20% increase. And Gartner estimates that Apple share of the market grew from 7.4% last year to now 8.5%, which is more than a “tiny gain”.

    • Paul Thurrott

      I average the Gartner and IDC numbers and the change from 7.29 percent of the market to 7.9 percent seems tiny to me, sorry.

    • F4IL

      You could report the increase as tiny compared to other companies, but it certainly represents a substantial increase in revenue for apple since all macs, unlike HP and Lenovo systems, command a considerable premium.

  10. zakand

    Obviously, Win11’s rounded corners and the start search bar will fix everything!

  11. saint4eva

    With Windows 11, it is going to soar again. PCs are inevitable and will be relevant forever.