The pandemic PC boom gave personal computers their biggest year in nearly a decade – MarketWatch

Personal-computer shipments hit their highest annual levels in nearly a decade as the COVID-19 pandemic forced workers and students to stay home in 2021, according to International Data Group.

While global PC shipments rose just 1% to 92.7 million units in the holiday quarter, the year ended with a total of 348.8 million units shipped, the highest total since 2012 and a gain of 14.8% from 2020, when PCs began flying off shelves as COVID-19 pushed more work, education and commerce online. Before the pandemic, PC sales had been in a yearslong decline as consumers focused on replacing their smartphones more regularly than their laptops.

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“Consumer need for PCs in emerging markets and global commercial demand remained strong during the quarter with supply being a gating factor,” Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, said in a statement. “While consumer and educational demand has tapered in some developed markets, we continue to believe the overall PC market has reset at a much higher level than before the pandemic.”

PC makers struggled to find the necessary components to make their products at times in 2021, which hampered their ability to manufacture and ship product. Specifically, semiconductors were in short supply globally, and Intel Corp. INTC, -0.66% struggled to produce enough chips for PCs at times in recent years while also suffering in next-generation manufacturing.

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“A challenging logistical environment, coupled with ongoing supply-side shortages, meant that the PC market could have been even larger than it was in 2021,” said Tom Mainelli, head of IDC’s device and consumer research.

“We closed the year with many buyers still waiting for their PC orders to ship,” Mainelli said. “As we move through the first half of the year, we expect supply to remain constrained, especially with regards to the commercial segment where demand is the most robust.”

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China’s Lenovo Group Ltd. 992, +2.16% was the largest manufacturer of the year, according to IDC tabulations, with shipments rising 14.1% to 81.9 million, ahead of HP Inc. HPQ, -0.47%, which increased shipments 9.3% to 74.1 million while facing some of the biggest issues in the industry with obtaining components. Dell Technologies Inc.’s DELL, -0.73% shipments rose 17.9% to 59.3 million, while Apple Inc.’s AAPL, +0.25% gained 22.1% to 27.8 million and Acer Inc.’s 2353, -0.99% rose 16.5% to 23.9 million.

For the quarter, Lenovo shipments declined 3.3% to 21.7 million units, HP shipments fell 3.2% to 18.6 million units, Dell shipments rose 8.9% to 17.2 million PCs, Apple shipments rose 8.6% to 7.6 million units, and Acer and Asustek Computer Inc. 2357, both shipped around 6 million, a 12.5% gain for Asus but a 7.7% decline for Acer, according to IDC.

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