PC Sales Grew 16 Percent in 2021

PC makers sold 344.3 million PCs in 2021, a gain of 16 percent over the previous year, marking the third consecutive year of growth. Even more impressive, I think the last time PC sales grew by double digits was 2010. And 2021’s total is not that far off from the industry sales peak of 365.4 million units in 2011.

As always, all of the numbers presented here are an average of the estimates provided by the market researchers at Gartner and IDC.

Windows Intelligence In Your Inbox

Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday — and get free copies of Paul Thurrott's Windows 11 and Windows 10 Field Guides (normally $9.99) as a special welcome gift!

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“2021 saw the highest shipment volume since [2015],” Gartner’s Mikako Kitagawa said. “During the pandemic, shipment growth has been supported by an average selling price (ASP) hike, resulting in higher revenues and a healthier market overall. As a result, annual PC shipment volumes are not expected to decline to pre-pandemic levels for at least two-to-three years.”

“2021 has truly been a return to form for the PC,” IDC’s Jitesh Ubrani added. “Consumer need for PCs in emerging markets and global commercial demand remained strong during the quarter with supply being a gating factor. While consumer and educational demand has tapered in some developed markets, we continue to believe the overall PC market has reset at a much higher level than before the pandemic.”

The top five PC makers haven’t changed positions in several years.

Lenovo was once again the world’s largest maker of PCs, with 83 million units sold and 24.1percent market share. HP wasn’t far behind, with 74.1 million units sold and 21.5 percent market share. Dell (59.5 million units/17.3 percent), Apple (27 million units/7.8 percent), and Acer (24 million units/7 percent) accounted for the rest of the top five.

Interestingly, Apple landed at exactly the same market share last year despite selling more Macs; the rest of the industry grew faster despite the ongoing arrival of more Apple Silicon-based Macs.

Also interesting: the fourth quarter, traditionally the best quarter for the industry, was a bloodbath relative to the rest of the year. PC makers sold 90.6 million units in the quarter, down from the 92.4 million units they had sold in the year-ago quarter. Lenovo took the biggest hit, delivering almost 8 percent fewer PCs in the quarter than it had in Q4 2020.

Gartner and IDC differed a bit on the problems that triggered the fourth-quarter shortfall—the industry-wide component shortage and supply chain issues are the obvious choices—but both agree that 2021 could have been even better otherwise. Imagine that.

Share post

Please check our Community Guidelines before commenting

Conversation 23 comments

  • Bart

    Premium Member
    13 January, 2022 - 5:06 pm

    <p>Should mean another good couple quarters ahead when/if component shortage subsides.</p>

  • bluvg

    13 January, 2022 - 5:19 pm

    <p>Both significantly contributing to and affected by the component shortages….</p><p><br></p><p>"Post-PC" eh, Apple?</p>

    • rob_segal

      Premium Member
      13 January, 2022 - 5:51 pm

      <p>This bump is temporary and is destined to start dropping again. Even though the PC still has a place in some people’s lives, mobile is still a much larger market. Not quite "Post-PC", but the PC is not nearly as important to people as it used to be and as mobile is.</p>

      • bluvg

        13 January, 2022 - 6:50 pm

        <p>It was somewhat tongue-in-cheek; yes, it will likely go down again, but I think the PC has proved–particularly during the pandemic–it’s still the best tool for many jobs and not easily substituted.</p>

        • Bart

          Premium Member
          14 January, 2022 - 3:43 am

          <p>Equally, one could argue what will happen in a ‘post-pandemic’ world. Will people still need that mobility, since working at home might become that much more popular? Mobility, yes? Also, pc at home yes.</p>

        • Stabitha.Christie

          16 January, 2022 - 10:46 am

          <p>"<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">but I think the PC has proved–particularly during the pandemic–it’s still the best tool for many jobs and not easily substituted" </span></p><p><br></p><p>Did you listen to what Steve actually said when he made his comment about the post-pc era? He literally said they would stay around because they were the best tools to do certain things. It was largely ridiculed out the time but in retrospect was stunningly accurate. </p>

  • stassi801

    Premium Member
    13 January, 2022 - 6:10 pm

    <p>And Apple probably made more money from every PC they sold than any of the others.</p>

    • bluvg

      13 January, 2022 - 6:54 pm

      <p>That’s probably still true, although prices on many PC laptops haven’t been that charming lately, either, and some entry-level Apple gear isn’t all that unreasonably priced (as long as you don’t upgrade any components).</p>

    • jgraebner

      Premium Member
      13 January, 2022 - 6:55 pm

      <p>Yes, that’s true. In fact, it’s unlikely that any of the others made any money at all off of the PCs that Apple sold.</p>

  • sherlockholmes

    Premium Member
    13 January, 2022 - 8:58 pm

    <p>I bought two laptops in 2021. One for my son for school (around 500€) and one for me (1500€). </p>

  • spiderman2

    14 January, 2022 - 3:01 am

    <p>"but but with a phone and/or a table I can do everything" (quote)</p>

    • Greg Green

      14 January, 2022 - 8:50 am

      <p>Most people can. Web browsing, social media, emails, all easily done without a pc. Even gaming is now primarily mobile, with mobile revenues equaling pc and console combined.</p><p><br></p><p>it’s a shame the MS never quite understood their customers enough to stay ahead of this.</p>

    • 2ilent8cho

      14 January, 2022 - 9:38 am

      <p>Which is why we have 2100 iPads but only 320 Mac’s deployed. Because most things can be done on a phone or tablet. </p><p><br></p><p>It’s why my Nan, Aunts, Uncles , Mum, Dad all use iPads now and not a Windows laptop, because they check email, book holidays, buy things on Amazon, read Kindle Books, check the news, pay bills and check their bank/credit card accounts and that’s about it. They can do it all on an iPad. </p>

      • Donte

        14 January, 2022 - 2:29 pm

        <p>While that is all great, did Apple sell 340 million iPad’s last year? Even half that number? My point is lots of people still use computers and will continue too.</p><p><br></p><p>My company has 500+ iPad’s deployed, they are used for very specific tasks while on the retail floor.</p><p><br></p><p>For me and many others it’s about maximizing the experience while doing my work or whatever. I would much rather watch a movie on my 75inch TV in the basement with surround sound vs on an iPhone or iPad. Or play a game on my gaming PC on a 27inc 144hz monitor than on a smartphone or iPad.</p>

      • wright_is

        Premium Member
        17 January, 2022 - 8:58 am

        <p>It depends, we have over 500 PCs and 2 iPads in use – well, 1 in use the other is in the IT department as a backup at the moment. We have a dozen Windows tablets (heavy duty industrial tablets, which have Pentium processors, but cost upwards of $2,000! Mainly due to the additional hardware, such as laser scanners), which are used to book chemicals out of stores and into the mixing drums, they are attached to the mobile scales (mini-forklifts with scales built into them).</p><p><br></p><p>Most users have desktop PCs or laptops with dual external displays. The ERP system is Windows only, the telephone system is Windows or macOS only, most of the rest of the software is Windows or Linux only, which is why we have pretty much only Windows PCs in use.</p><p><br></p><p>It very much depends on what you are doing and what area you are working in, whether a tablet or smartphone make any sense. Some verticals, they make a lot of sense and make the user experience much better, in other areas, they are more of a hindrance and end up gathering dust, or are just used as status symbols in meetings.</p><p><br></p><p>I have a Mac, a PC, Raspberry Pis, iPad and iPhone at home. The Mac gets the most use, with the iPad and iPhone used for when I am not at my desk and need to look up something quickly or read an article. If it requires a lot of research or typing, I wait until I can get back to a "real" computer.</p>

  • rossdelliott

    Premium Member
    14 January, 2022 - 11:28 am

    <p>How many of these PCs were then re-sold on eBay minus a dedicated graphics card?</p>

  • ekim

    Premium Member
    14 January, 2022 - 4:50 pm

    <p>I understand why during the pandemic the sales have been going up but what do you think explains the rise in 2019?</p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      17 January, 2022 - 9:03 am

      <p>Windows 7 end of life, many companies were busy replacing fleets of ageing Windows 7 PCs, just in time to replace them again in 2020 with laptops! 2018-2019, we replace several hundred PC, then in the first half of 2020, we replace a hundred of so of them with laptops.</p>

  • kevinbouwman

    Premium Member
    14 January, 2022 - 5:23 pm

    <p>I think the predicted demise of the PC has always been overstated. Sure, grandma no longer needs a PC to browse Facebook and to exchange a few emails, but most tasks are still easier with a keyboard than a touch screen. And, a PC is not that much more than a decent sized tablet. And I think the pandemic reminded people that while a phone and a tablet are great tools for staying connected when on the move, they are still secondary tools, real work still gets done best with a decent sized screen, a mouse, and a keyboard. For a very large minority, real work can only be done on a PC. For me it is CAD and programming. For others it is video/audio editing or graphic design. PCs have been lasting longer and people were getting by; in 2019/2020, many of them realized it made a lot of sense to upgrade or replace what they had. The pandemic was just the catalyst. That said, when this upgrade cycle runs its course, sales are going to be artificially low for a number of years.</p>

  • Michael_Miller

    14 January, 2022 - 6:38 pm

    <p>“<span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Apple landed at exactly the same market share last year despite selling more Macs; the rest of the industry grew faster despite the ongoing arrival of more Apple Silicon-based Macs.”</span></p><p><br></p><p><span style="color: rgb(0, 0, 0);">Can the industry be growing at a faster rate than Apple did even though Apple’s share remained the same? If units overall increased, than all boats have risen with Apple gaining growth in absolute units with the same share; not growing at a slower pace than others. </span></p>

  • simard57

    14 January, 2022 - 9:17 pm

    <p>do these numbers include chromebooks – seems not</p><p><br></p>

    • wright_is

      Premium Member
      17 January, 2022 - 9:15 am

      <p>Seems yes:</p><p><br></p><p>From the Gartner site linked to in the article:</p><p><em>Notes: Data includes desk-based PCs, notebook PCs, ultramobile premiums (such as Microsoft Surface) and Chromebooks, but not iPads.</em></p><p><br></p><p>Even though the Chromebook market grew several fold in 2020, it still remained the smallest part of the market.</p><p><br></p><p>According to Statista:</p><p><em>Microsoft Windows is the dominating desktop operating system (OS) worldwide as of December 2021, with a share of just under 74 percent. Apple’s Mac operating system, has gained market share over the years, albeit remaining a minor player in the desktop OS market. Linux, the third most popular desktop OS, has a small but stable share of the market.</em></p><p><br></p><p>ChromeOS doesn’t even get a mention. Canalys says total shipments in 2021 were 11.9 million units, less than half the number of units that Acer managed to shift, let alone Apple.</p>

  • naro

    Premium Member
    17 January, 2022 - 4:59 pm

    <p>Looks about right. I predicted 3 years ago this would continue for some time. An awakened AMD has caused Intel to finally get off it’s ass and compete. Prices came down further, performance is noticeably better each year …..rather than the lame 3% increases of years before.</p><p><br></p><p>I think this will continue to cause consumers to upgrade their PCs.</p>

Windows Intelligence In Your Inbox

Sign up for our new free newsletter to get three time-saving tips each Friday

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Thurrott © 2023 Thurrott LLC