For years, analysts and market watchers have considered the PC market to be on its way out. Just like with almost anything in the world, the COVID-19 pandemic threw everything into chaos. No industry was left unscathed but some seem to have also benefited from that in the long run. The PC market, both ironically and unsurprisingly, is one of those and it just recorded its highest shipment numbers and fastest growth in the first quarter of 2021 compared to almost two decades of stagnation and dwindling sales.
Both Gartner and IDC report extremely encouraging numbers for the PC market. Gartner says that PC shipments are up by 32% compared to the same quarter of 2020 while IDC paints an even more favorable 55% growth. Gartner notes that this has been the fastest growth spurt observed in the PC market since 2020 while IDC remarks that the expected sequential decline between the fourth quarter of a previous year and the first quarter of the current year has not been this small since 2012.
And that’s not even counting Chromebooks, which Gartner curiously doesn’t include in its figures. The market analyst recounts how the inexpensive notebooks grew by triple digits in the first quarter compared to last year. If added to the overall PC market, the growth would have actually reached 47% year-over-year.
On the one hand, that growth isn’t exactly surprising considering the surge in demand for computers last year due to new work from home and remote working arrangements. On the other hand, global events, like the shortage in semiconductors, should have produced lower shipment volumes. That the PC market managed to thrive in the first quarter of 2021 despite those odds is definitely reassuring to PC vendors.
The analysts predict that the first half of the year will be good to the PC market. Whether that remains true for the second half is still uncertain. The global chip shortage could once again push shipment lead times to months, which means that figures will once again be skewed to favor later months when the computers finally do start shipping.