The worldwide PC market witnessed a huge jump in shipments of desktop and notebooks, including workstations in the first quarter of 2021. With the total shipments of 82.7 million, the industry registered a 55% year-on-year growth, and the highest Q1 shipments since 2012 say Canalys. However, this growth rate was buoyed by a weak Q1 2020. Backlogs on orders from 2020, particularly for notebooks, were a key driver, though new demand is also a factor as smaller businesses begin their recoveries. While the research includes Chromebooks in the PC markets, tablets and detachable are not included.
Of the overall shipments, notebooks and mobile workstations reached 67.8 million units, recording an increase of 79% year on year. However, at 14.8 million units, shipments for desktop and desktop workstations fell 5% year on year. Even after poor quarters in 2020, desktops too improved slightly at the start of 2021 with the level of shipment decline easing.
"The supply chain issue plaguing the industry is a good problem to have. As average prices rise due to the scarcity of internal hardware, innovation in design is triggering long-term changes to the way PC vendors approach supply and demand. Chipmakers, too, are now bullish about personal computing, and have increased their planned future investments to capitalise on the long-term opportunity. While the pandemic is not over just yet, there is light at the end of the tunnel. This is also spurring SMB investment in computing, which halted abruptly in 2020," says Rushabh Doshi, Canalys Research Director.
The top five vendors achieved double-digit year-on-year shipment growth basis the strong recovery from a weak Q1 2020. Lenovo continued to be on the top with 25% market share. Lenovo shipped 20.4 million units while posting 61% year-on-year growth. HP, at the second spot, clocked a total of 19.2 million units, a 64% increase over Q1 2020. Dell shipped 12.9 million units registering 23% year-on-year growth. Apple and Acer made up the rest of the top five, shipping 6.6 million and 5.7 million units to enjoy the highest and second-highest annual growth at 105.2% and 82.1% respectively. Cumulatively, the top five vendors accounted for 78.5% of all PC shipments in Q1 2021.
"Despite the concerted efforts of the supply chain to ramp up production, Canalys expects the PC market to be supply-constrained for most of this year. Adding to this, the potential for more black swan events to create even more disruption and uncertainty looms large. The hindering effect of shortages on countries' economic revivals should be a wake-up call for governments to increase," says Ishan Dutt, Canalys Analyst.
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