The PC market rebounded final yr, sporting the very best development fee in a decade, business analysts mentioned this week, pinning credit score (or blame) on the coronavirus pandemic.

Research agency IDC pegged 2020’s international shipments of non-public computer systems at 302.6 million gadgets, a 13% enhance over the yr prior, which represented the most important annual acquire since 2010. The cargo quantity was the most important since 2014, mentioned Jitesh Ubrani, analysis supervisor with IDC’s cellular system trackers workforce, in an interview.

The turnaround was placing: Of the previous 10 years, six noticed year-over-year declines whereas one had been flat.

Gartner Research, an IDC rival, additionally claimed a notable enhance in PC shipments. Even although Gartner’s numbers for 2020 differed from IDC’s — the previous agency mentioned final yr’s enhance was just below 5%, lower than half IDC’s — it agreed that that development was the very best measured since 2010.

The distinction between IDC’s and Gartner’s complete shipments for the yr — 302 million and 275 million, respectively — was largely as a result of former counting Chromebooks as private computer systems, whereas the latter didn’t.

“A lot of volume early in the year was because companies had people working at home,” mentioned Ubrani, reflecting on the spring months, when companies worldwide first shuttered, then requested staff to make money working from home. Enterprises, Ubrani mentioned, bought massive numbers of laptops to equip these suddenly-remote staff, the gross sales quantity at occasions enough to utterly throttle the part provide chain.

School districts quickly added their PC calls for to the rising refrain as many tried to equip their college students with gadgets — low-cost laptops in nearly all circumstances — in order that kids may be taught remotely. “School systems were not used to one-for-one,” Ubrani mentioned, referring to PC-to-student ratios. “They were used to students sharing laptops.”

A 3rd group — households with school-aged kids — joined in on the rush-to-PCs, including machines to the family when faculty districts didn’t (or just couldn’t) step in.

“Beyond the enterprise and educational [markets], there has been a lot of strength in the consumer market,” mentioned Ubrani, citing not solely the will of households to offer every youngster their very own pocket book but additionally a rise in curiosity in gaming-centric PCs. Hunkered down at house for lengthy stretches of lockdowns and quarantine, households wanted leisure distractions; some solved that by shopping for not solely PC gaming rigs but additionally spending extra on recreation titles.

Consumers additionally rediscovered PCs in the previous 9 months, Ubrani mentioned. “Many of them had gone years since buying a PC,” he famous, and as at-home orders lengthened — or returned — realized their outdated machines did not minimize it in gaming, crafts or different tasks. “They found they needed a new device.”

The PC business benefited from the pains suffered by different areas of the economic system, Ubrani contended. Some households and people had extra disposable earnings accessible through the pandemic as a result of they weren’t spending the standard quantities on journey, say, or eating or out-of-the-house leisure.

In reality, Ubrani anticipated that shopper PC shopping for would proceed to get well from the previous decade, when many — together with some right here at Computerworld — had been writing off that market as not solely moribund but additionally purposeless in the face of smartphones and tablets. “I think this shows that there has been a resetting and rethinking of the importance of PCs” for customers, Ubrani mentioned.

Macs on the march, Chromebook shipments skyrocket 80%

Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple and Acer booked the most important PC cargo numbers for 2020 (and in that order), IDC reported. Gartner’s numbers had been preliminaries, like IDC’s, and ranked the distributors in the identical order, albeit with totally different year-end tallies.

Apple simply took honors because the Big 5 vendor with the very best year-over-year development fee in 2020, posting a 29% acquire by IDC’s knowledge and a 23% enhance in Gartner’s estimate. IDC pegged Apple’s shipments at 23.1 million for the yr; Gartner tapped it as 22.5 million.

Chromebooks, the label utilized to laptops powered by Google’s Chrome browser-based working system (Chrome OS), additionally surged in 2020, analysts mentioned.

Gartner mentioned that the December 2020 quarter witnessed a 200% year-over-year enhance in Chromebook shipments, reaching 11.7 million items. Over the course of the complete yr, Chromebook shipments grew by greater than 80%, completely almost 30 million.

IDC put Chromebook laptop computer shipments at 19.6 million by means of the tip of the September quarter, or analogous to Gartner’s rely for a similar nine-month stretch. (Numbers had been nonetheless being tabulated for the December 2020 quarter, Ubrani mentioned.)

“Demand is pushing the PC market forward and all signs indicate this surge still has a way to go,” mentioned Ryan Reith of IDC, who leads the agency’s cellular system trackers group, in a assertion. “In retrospect, the pandemic not only fueled PC market demand but also created opportunities that resulted in a market expansion.”

Ubrani agreed. Although he expects a slight slowdown in shipments to companies throughout 2021, shopper shipments are projected to extend by means of 2024. “We’ll see a lot of demand in 2021 because some of that went unfulfilled [in 2020]. Those orders slipped from the end of 2020 into early 2021,” Ubrani mentioned.

IDG/Gregg Keizer

Shipments in 2020 climbed for all Big 5 international producers, with Apple main the pack in proportion enhance. (Data: IDC.)

Copyright © 2021 IDG Communications, Inc.