PC shipments grew in Q2 2020 but it's too early to celebrate

After years of declining shipment figures, the traditional PC market, made up of desktops, notebooks, and tablet computers that aren't Chromebooks and iPads, have finally seen a tiny bit of growth in the second quarter of the year. Almost tragically, that growth happened only because the world was plunged into a period of uncertainty, change, and a pandemic. But while the world's PC makers may be delighted to finally see some positive numbers, both Gartner and IDC seem to agree that it's not going to last.

They don't always agree on the details, especially the numbers, but the two market analysts seem to see eye to eye on how and why PC shipments have grown in the second quarter of the year despite the global economy. Of course, it's easy enough to see how the sudden change in work and school arrangements would have pushed more people to buy computers, especially mobile PCs known as "laptops".

To be clear, there was a great need even as far back as the first quarter but this is where the two quarters differ. Q1 2020 saw a sharp decline in manufacturing and shipping capabilities due to the shutdown of many factories and offices. Restrictions have been loosened up a bit, allowing manufacturers and retailers to replenish their stocks and meet that growing demand.

Of the world's major PC makers, Lenovo and HP take the top two slots and together make up half of the world's PC shipments. Dell is a good distance at third but even farther is Apple. Acer, ASUS, and other PC makers collectively comprise only a fourth of the world's computer shipments.

This "goodwill", as IDC calls it, isn't going to last and Gartner thinks 2021 will see PC shipments start dropping again like before. This will be due to a combination of a global recession as well as most households having acquired all the computers they need by then.