It’s Official: The PC Market Stalled in Q3

Posted on October 12, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 10 Comments

Gartner and IDC confirmed that the PC market barely grew in Q3 2021, with PC makers selling 85.4 million units in the quarter. That’s just 2.3 percent growth year-over-year.

Both firms credited the slowdown to the end of the COVID-19 pandemic buying spree, which was always thought to be temporary, and ongoing supply chain issues. Which is also hopefully just temporary.

“Business PC demand remained strong, led by economic recovery in key regions and the return of some workers to offices,” Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa said. “However, business PC growth was concentrated in the desktop segment as semiconductor shortages continued to constrain laptop shipments.”

“After a year of accelerated buying driven by the shift to remote work and learning, there’s also been a comparative slowdown in PC spending and that has caused some softening of the U.S. PC market today,” IDC’s Neha Mahajan added. “Yet, supply clearly remains behind demand in key segments with inventory still below normal levels.”

Note: As you may recall, a third analyst firm, Canalys, also weighed in on PC sales in the third quarter. It reported that PC makers sold 84 million units, with the market growing 5 percent YOY. Those figures are not included in any calculations here, though they are at least in line.

Lenovo was again the world’s largest maker of PCs, with about 19.9 million units sold and 23.3 percent market share. HP came in second with 17.6 million units sold and 22.4 percent market share. And Dell (15.2 million units), Apple (7.4 million units), and Acer (6 million units) rounded out the top five.

A few additional points on the competition.

The Apple Mac now accounts for 8.7 percent of all PCs sold worldwide, capping off a hugely successful year following the introduction of the Apple Silicon M1 chipset.

And Gartner reported that Chromebook shipments fell by 17 percent in the quarter due to decreased demand in education. “This was the first double-digit year-over-year decline in Chromebook sales since its introduction to the market in 2011,” the firm said.

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Comments (10)

10 responses to “It’s Official: The PC Market Stalled in Q3”

  1. digiguy

    I expect a spike in growth in 4 years with the end of support of Windows 10. As for Mac, I am very curious to see the impact of the M1X Macs to be announced by the end of this month.

    • hrlngrv

      Per StatCounter, more than 1.5 years after it reached EOS, Windows 7 is still in use on more than 1 in 7 PCs running some version of Windows, and XP/Vista/8.0 (not 8.1) together are still in use on about 1 in 50 such PCs. I figure Windows 10 will remain in use on at least 1 in 4 PCs at 1.5 years after EOS.

      Normal people (who'd prefer going to the dentist that reading buy new PCs only when they believe they need new PCs. The pandemic could get tens of millions more than usual to buy new PCs because the need is obvious. For these people, a Windows version reaching EOS would not be perceived as a need to buy a new PC. Indeed, many would welcome the cessation of pesky updates.

      IOW, I doubt there'd be any spike in new PC sales in 2025.

      • LocalPCGuy takes care of those pesky Windows 7 updates by offering micro-patches. They work. 0patch often releases patches for zero days before Microsoft does. I've put it on a lot of customer computers. I use 0patch Pro on my Windows 7 Pro machine.

      • digiguy

        Things are not just black or white, there are a lot of individuals that (also) work with their PCs, and most normal people barely use a PC at all. The fact that many Windows 7 PCs are in use does not mean that they are "main" devices. Personally I have 12 Windows 10 PCs and only 2 are upgradable. Will I put the 10 others offline in 2025? NO! But I will stop using browsers on them (on several I already don't do that) and remote into supported devices if I need to use a browser. I'll mainly use them with cloud services and for their pen input (most are convertibles). If I had no supported device I would definitely buy at least one in 2025 since I work with my devices. This will increase the number of people who buy a PC in 2025. But sure, many millions of people will simple continue to use their Window 10 PC fully at least until 2030 or until important apps will stop working.... (my sister is probably one of them...)

        • Sihaz

          "Will I put the 10 others offline in 2025? NO!"

          No need to be quite so dramatic or wait that long. Just do a clean install. I'll bet if the machines are fine with Windows 10 they'll be okay with 11. Done it with two Lenovo laptops already that were "not compatible". Both are functioning perfectly with Windows 11.

          • digiguy

            there is no guarantee that windows 11 is going to provide updates for unsupported devices and may either brick them or just stop updating them at any time, so no they'll stay on 10... My intention was not that of sounding dramatic but just make very clear to all those that sound terrified that an unsupported device is still online that there are ways to keep them online safely, but it's definitely not something that the average Joe is capable of doing... (and actually the average Joe is probably less safe on a supported device if he does not know what he is doing and gets malware pretty easily)

    • Greg Green

      I’m expecting this is where apple will excel over time. The M1 family is the ideal device for thin laptops with all the power of intel only without the heat, fan noise, throttling and shorter battery life. It’ll be interesting to see if pc users drift over to the MacBooks.

  2. Sprtfan

    Does the 2.3% growth include the 17% decline in Chromebooks? Would that explain the difference from the 5% growth that Canalys reported?

    • Sprtfan

      Never mind, I thought Canalys didn't include Chromebook sales but it looks like it does. I think Gartner was the one that didn't in the past and it looks like they are including Chromebooks now starting this quarter.

  3. hrlngrv

    FWIW, I figure a major portion of Q3 computer sales are for back to school or off to college. Most students already bought the PCs they needed from spring 2020 through winter 2021, so it really wouldn't surprise me if 2021Q3 saw only a small fraction of 2019Q3's school/college/university sales. The COVID bump was going to end sometime, and Q3 seems like it would have been a prime candidate for The End.