PC Sales Surged For The First Time In 10 Years In 2020
Smartphones and tablets were said to have made them redundant, but it looks like reports of the PC’s death have been greatly exaggerated.
Analysts have reported that 2020 was the biggest year for computer sales in at least a decade, surprising manufacturers so much that at one point in the year demand led to a global shortage of laptops. According to market research firm Canalys, more than 297 million PCs were shifted in 2020 – up 11% on 2019. Another group, IDC, puts the estimate even higher, at 302 million units.
There’s a pretty simple explanation for all this: the ongoing coronavirus pandemic has seen many of us shifting to remote working and schooling, sending demand for home computers skyrocketing as consumers hurriedly tried to set up makeshift home offices and virtual classrooms.
In a statement, Mikako Kitagawa, research director at market research firm Gartner, explained:
Robust consumer PC demand again drove sales, particularly in regions where governments maintain stay-at-home orders as the COVID-19 pandemic persists. Prior to 2020, consumers had been shifting to a phone-first focus, yet the pandemic reversed this trend.
PCs have resurfaced as an essential device as consumers, including younger children, are relying on them to for work, school, socializing and be entertained from their homes.
Kitagawa added that business sales of computers fell in the second half of the year, suggesting that the continued growth in demand is being sustained by home users.
Lenovo led the way in laptop sales this year, accounting for almost 1/4 of the total market share. Other popular brands included HP, Dell and Apple, which launched its new M1-powered MacBook range towards the end of 2020. The demand for homeworking solutions also led to computer companies rethinking their plans for the year and beyond. Microsoft reportedly adjusted plans for the upcoming rollout of Windows 10X after the company saw a huge surge in Windows 10 users during the first wave of Covid-related lockdowns.
The figures are a much-needed boost for the PC industry, which over the past decade has seen demand eaten away by increasingly advanced smartphones and tablets capable of doing most of the tasks typically performed by home computers. Now, with remote working set to continue well in to 2021 and many expecting a more permanent shift to digital living, analysts who warned that PCs were fast becoming obsolete are being forced to reverse their predictions.
‘It is going to be extremely difficult to write off the PC as some of us did a few years ago,’ acknowledged Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi. ‘PCs are here to stay.’
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