PC Sales Grew 8.6 Percent in 2020

Posted on January 12, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Hardware, Mobile, Windows 10 with 20 Comments

PC makers sold 288.9 million PCs in 2020, a leap of 8.6 percent over the previous year, and the second consecutive year of growth for the once-struggling industry. Previously, PC sales had fallen for seven straight years since its high in 2011.

While the PC will never hit its 2011 high of 365.4 million units sold, 2020 was still a terrific year, with hardware makers selling more PCs than had been the case since 2015, when Windows 10 launched. That year, PC makers sold 288.7 million PCs.

Last year, of course, benefitted from the COVID-19 pandemic and its worldwide work-from-home requirements. Given the unexpected boost to sales, and the resulting shortages, many now expect 2021 to see a similar lift. The question is whether the PC market will then fall off again after that and readopting previous patterns, or that perhaps we’ve moved the needle a bit higher on what had been plateauing sales.

We’ll see. For now, let’s celebrate the world’s renewed understanding that the PC, despite being perceived as yesterday’s technology, is still very important.

“Demand is pushing the PC market forward and all signs indicate this surge still has a way to go,” IDC vice president Ryan Reith said of the sales surge. “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.”

“Despite some supply chain issues at the beginning of 2020, COVID-19 coupled with consistent consumer demand created tremendous growth opportunities for PCs throughout the year,” Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa added. “This momentum is likely to continue through at least the first half of 2021, but it remains to be seen if it will sustain in the post-pandemic era as it will depend on the permanency of the changes driving demand. For instance, online education may continue even after schools open, consumers may still buy groceries online, and some businesses may continue full- or part-time remote work. If these scenarios persist, then PCs will return to consumers’ daily lives as an essential device.”

For the full year 2020, Lenovo emerged again as the world’s biggest maker of PCs, with 70.6 million units sold, good for about 24.4 percent market share. HP, with 63 million units sold and 21.8 percent share, was number two, and Dell, with 47.7 million units and 16.5 percent share, was number three. Apple landed in fourth place with 22.8 million units sold, was a distant number 4, and the Mac ended 2020 with 7.9 percent marketshare. Acer was in fifth place.

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