PC Sales Soared in Q3, Chromebook Shipments Up 90 Percent
PC sales boomed in Q3 2020, driven by massive new demand in the education market and continuing strong sales in business and gaming segments. The coronavirus has fueled a tremendous surge in PC sales throughout 2020. Initially, demand was expected to taper off in Q3, but we now know the market grew significantly.
How much the market grew depends on whether you count Chromebooks. Gartner (which doesn’t) reports that PC sales grew 3.6 percent compared with Q3 2019. Now, understand — 3.6 percent is not nothing for a market that’s been in almost continuous decline for a decade now.
But the 3.6 percent growth Gartner reports is dwarfed by the 14.1 percent growth that IDC recorded, and the difference comes down to Chromebooks. IDC counts them. According to Gartner’s figures, counting Chromebooks, the market grew at 9 percent, with Chromebooks representing about 11 percent of total shipments. A 9 percent/14 percent gap between the two firms is still large, but it’s much closer than the previous figure.
Chromebook shipments surged an astounding 90 percent year-on-year, driven by massive demand ahead of the deployment of remote learning in US school systems. Non-Chromebook sales were driven by an increase in Windows laptops and in gaming systems, but the huge 28 percent surge in laptop sales was undercut by a nearly equivalent decline in desktops. Outside of gaming, where they remain fairly popular, overall desktop adoption declined sharply.
Lenovo hit 18 million PC shipments this quarter and retained its position at the top of the stack according to Gartner and IDC, followed by HP, Dell, Apple, Acer, and Asus (this last only according to Gartner, IDC only gives the top 5.)
Both firms also note that the PC market would have done even better if it weren’t for widespread component shortages across the entire market. It isn’t clear if this situation will improve in Q4, given increased demand around the holidays and the ongoing difficulties of COVID-19.
The one downside to the entire situation is the inescapable fact that it’s being driven by massive amounts of human misery. IDC writes: “The traditional PC market witnessed yet another extraordinary quarter posting strong double-digit shipment growth. Preliminary results reflect continued strong buyer sentiment fueled by stay-at-home PC needs and resultant inventory replenishment.”
It’s nice to see the PC market growing again after years of decline. It’d be a whole lot nicer if it was for any other reason.