The PC market is showing early signs of its growth slowing down, after an impressive run of shipments throughout 2020. Both IDC and Gartner conclude that growth in the second quarter of PC shipments has slowed this year. Demand for new PCs is still above what we saw before the pandemic hit, but a mixture of softer demand and the effects of the global chip shortage mean it’s not growing as quickly.
“The market faces mixed signals as far as demand is concerned,” says Neha Mahajan, a senior research analyst at IDC. “With businesses opening back up, demand potential in the commercial segment appears promising. However, there are also early indicators of consumer demand slowing down as people shift spending priorities after nearly a year of aggressive PC buying.”
IDC says more than 83 million PCs were shipped in the second quarter of 2021, while Gartner’s own figure is more than 71 million. Gartner does not include Chromebook shipments in its results, but the research firm says “Chromebook shipments were once again strong in the second quarter of 2021.” Either way, both firms agree that year-over-year growth in this latest quarter wasn’t as strong as 2020’s sudden growth.
That doesn’t mean PC sales are about to suddenly plummet, but the first big growth we saw in a decade could be starting to wane. Lenovo is still the top PC manufacturer worldwide, and Gartner says Apple, Acer, and Asus all grew faster than the overall market thanks to better availability of consumer PCs. “The consumer PC market was less impacted by shortages than the enterprise market, as vendors can be more flexible in the system design of consumer models, enabling workarounds for certain supply constraints,” says Gartner.
While there are clearly early signs of slowing growth in the PC market, Microsoft and its OEM partners will be hoping to revitalize PCs even further later this year. Windows 11 will likely arrive in October, and Microsoft’s minimum hardware requirements mean many will need to upgrade PCs. A new version of Windows always comes with big marketing campaigns, and Windows 11 will be no different. With Apple’s impressive M1 MacBooks and Intel reviving the Mac vs. PC ads, this year is bound to be an interesting period for the PC market.