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Education and work at home requirements amid the COVID-19 pandemic have led the PC market to its strongest growth in more than a decade, according to third-party analysis published Monday.
Gartner Inc. and IDC reported that PC shipments grew strongly for the second quarter in a row after years of fighting over a form factor that fell out of favor in the move to smartphones. IDC reported that total shipments were up 14.6% year over year, the largest year over year increase since the second quarter of 2010, while Gartner posted a 3.6% increase.
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The difference between the two numbers relates to a form factor that saw tremendous gains in the back-to-school quarter: Chromebooks, the laptops that Alphabet Inc. use
Chrome operating system popular for education. Gartner, which does not include Chromebooks in its industry record, reported a 90% increase in shipments for these devices, separate from its quarterly core report.
Shipments to the US have also been a huge boost to the PC market. Gartner reported that shipments to the US were up 11.4%, also representing the largest year-over-year increase since the second quarter of 2010. Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa told MarketWatch in an email that it was the first time growth hit double-digit percentages since then, but there have been five double-digit declines this quarter.
US laptop shipments rose 29%, overcoming a decline in desktop computers and the lack of Chromebook numbers in Gartner's bookkeeping. IDC reported that "the traditional US PC market had another exceptional quarter of strong double-digit shipping growth."
While previous gains in the PC market were largely owed to companies buying laptops for home-working employees or new operating systems from Microsoft Corp.
According to Gartner, including the end of Windows 7 last year, that boost came from consumers.
"This quarter had the strongest consumer PC demand Gartner has seen in five years," Kitagawa said in a press release on Monday. “The market is no longer measured by the number of PCs per household. Rather, the dynamic has shifted to one PC per person. "
However, business demand remained a factor. Kitagawa reported that "corporate spending continued to be high as government funding for distance learning and remote work fueled equipment purchases, for example in the US and Japan."
"Consumer and institutional demand have approached record levels in some cases," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager at IDC. "Games, Chromebooks, and in some cases cellular notebooks, were bright spots during the quarter."
The only concern both analytics firms voiced was a lack of supplies to further meet increased demand for personal computers, with panels and processors cited as being in high demand.
“The PC industry started the third quarter with a substantial backlog of unfulfilled orders. And it appears that the quarter will end under the same auspices, "IDC's Linn Huang said in a statement. “Given that the shortage is more due to a lack of business planning than a technical failure, we don't expect a sudden increase in capacity. As a result, this lag is expected to continue through 2021. "
Both companies reported that Lenovo Group Ltd.
had the strongest market share among PC manufacturers in the quarter, leading HP Inc.
But the Chromebook discrepancy showed in those numbers too. Gartner attributed 25.7% of the market to Lenovo and 21.6% to HP, but HP Chromebook sales made the race much closer in IDC results – 23.7% to 23%. Both companies had Dell Technologies Inc.
Third in the market share ranking, followed by Apple Inc.
and Acer Inc.