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Global PC shipments soar in first quarter of 2021

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The 55% jump last quarter, say IDC and Canalys, was a jolt from the first quarter of 2020 and a modest decline from the fourth quarter.

work from home. people making video conference with colleague via laptop computer during home quarantine to avoid spreading illness transmission of COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak. Social distancing

Image: asiandelight, Getty Images/iStockphoto

The global PC market continues to bounce back from the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

SEE: 3 ways to help your team stay connected while WFH  (TechRepublic)  

For the first quarter of 2021, worldwide computer shipments surged by 55% from the same quarter in 2020, according to new reports from research firms IDC and Canalys. The impressive growth rate was boosted by the severe market weakness and shortages seen a year ago due to the effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. But the shipment total of 82.7 million was still impressive, Canalys said, and the highest first-quarter shipment volume since 2012.

IDC’s PC shipment tally of 84 million showed a modest 8% decline from the fourth quarter of 2020. However, first-quarter falloffs are typical, and a drop this small hasn’t surfaced since the first quarter of 2012 when the market fell by 7.5%, IDC said.


Image: Canalys

Computer shipments have been buoyed by a continued rebound in the PC market as well as increases in average selling prices, according to IDC. Other specific trends have helped, including growth in gaming, a need for robust notebooks in the enterprise, and a rise in demand for touch-screen devices in the education sector. A strong backlog on orders from 2020 also contributed to the first-quarter totals, Canalys said.

Shipments of notebooks and mobile workstations for the quarter jumped by 79% compared with a year ago, reaching 67.8 million. Desktop shipments inched down by 5% to 14.8 million, but that decline was much less severe than the ones seen throughout 2020.

For the quarter, Lenovo maintained its perch as the world’s top PC vendor, followed by HP, Dell, Apple and Acer, according to both IDC and Canalys. With shipments of 20.4 million, Lenovo took home a 25% slice of the market. Thanks to strong Chromebook sales, HP saw its shipments rise to 19 million, snagging a 23% market share. Collectively, the top five vendors accounted for 78.5% of all PC shipments last quarter.


Image: IDC

The PC market continues to grapple with component shortages and logistics issues. These factors have triggered a rise in average selling prices but have constrained computer makers from filling customer orders. The industry is likely to be supply constrained for most of 2021, Canalys analyst Ishan Dutt said in a press release. But how this will play out into 2022 and beyond is unknown.

“The ongoing shortages in the semiconductor space only further prolong the ability for vendors to refill inventory and fulfill orders to customers,” Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, said in a press release. “All three segments – business, education, and consumer – are experiencing demand that we didn’t expect to happen regardless of many countries beginning their ‘opening up’ process. Component shortages will likely be a topic of conversation for the majority of 2021, but the more important question should be what PC demand will look like in two to three years.”

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