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Record PC sales in 2020 as COVID limits work, education to homes

According to the latest data by research firm Canalys, the shipments across desktop, notebook, and workstations increased by 25 per cent from a year ago to reach a record 90.3 million units in Q4 of 2020

COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be a blessing for the personal computer (PC) industry. After registering a decline over the last few years, PCs have been in great demand, thanks to work from home, education from home. With the recovery after a supply-constrained Q1, total PC shipments in 2020 grew 11 per cent to reach 297 million units. This represents the highest full-year growth since 2010 and the highest shipment volume since 2014.

According to the latest data by research firm Canalys, the shipments across desktop, notebook, and workstations increased by 25 per cent from a year ago to reach a record 90.3 million units in Q4 of 2020. These numbers do not include tablets. Shipments in Q4 were up 13 per cent sequentially over what was a stellar performance in Q3 due to the ongoing strong demand during the holiday season.

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"The digital transformation the world has undertaken over the past year is unparalleled, and PCs were at the heart of this change. As the world readies itself to get vaccinated and overcome the COVID-19 virus, it is important to remember that PCs have played a vital role at every stage of this fight, from understanding the virus and synthesizing the vaccine, to social monitoring and vaccine roll-out. It is going to be extremely difficult to write off the PC as some of us did a few years ago. PCs are here to stay," says Rushabh Doshi, Canalys Research Director.

The worldwide PC market growth in 2020 was singlehandedly driven by notebooks and mobile workstations. Shipments of these devices increased by 44 per cent from 2019 to reach 235.1 million units. Conversely, desktop and desktop workstation shipments fell 20 per cent from last year to reach 61.9 million units in 2020. In Q4 2020, Lenovo was at the top position with record shipments of 23.1 million units and year-on-year growth of 29 per cent. With total shipments of 72.6 million units and a market share of 24.5 per cent, Lenovo has also been at the top for the year 2020.

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For HP, the Q4 shipments totalled 19.1 million units, bringing its 2020 total to 67.6 million units, up 7 per cent over its 2019 aggregate. At the third position, Dell registered Q4 shipments up 27 per cent to break the 15-million mark for the first time in its history, taking its 2020 total to 50.3 million units. Apple and Acer took fourth and fifth place, shipping 22.6 and 20 million devices, respectively. In total, the top five vendors accounted for 78.5 per cent of PC shipments in 2020.

"2021 is shaping up to be an even more exciting year for PCs, with vendors and ecosystem players refusing to rest on their laurels as they compete for the new demand opportunities that have emerged in 2020. Innovations in chipsets, operating systems, connectivity and form factors will take center stage as the PC industry caters to a broader range of customers that bring with them new behaviours and use cases. From Apple and Microsoft's new custom silicon to the exciting platform updates to Chrome and Windows, the PC industry is moving at breakneck speed to cater to its newfound user base," says Ishan Dutt, Analyst at Canalys.  While supply shortages continue to dampen the market in the short term, Canalys believes most wrinkles will be ironed out by the second half of 2021.

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