Personal Computing Devices Market Share

Updated: 22 Mar 2021

Forecast Data Overview

In the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21) while much of the world was still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, sales of PCs and tablets remained on fire. Global shipments of traditional PCs, including desktops, notebooks, and workstations, grew 55.9% year over year with a shipment total of 84.3 million during the first quarter of 2021 (1Q21), a modest 7.6% decline from the fourth quarter of 2020. While sequential declines are typical for the first quarter, a decline this small has not been seen since the first quarter of 2012 when the PC market declined 7.5% sequentially. While PCs remain in extremely high demand, the growth rate benefitted from the shortages faced in the first quarter of 2020 when the global pandemic began, resulting in an unusually favorable year-over-year comparison. Tablets also had a strong 55.4% year-over-year growth with shipments totaling to 39.9 million units. While Chromebooks and tablets can serve different customers, both remain in high demand. Chromebook shipments totaled 13.2 million units in 1Q21.

The continued resurgence in the PC market as well as increases in average selling prices (ASPs) have primarily been driven by growth in gaming, the need for higher performance notebooks in the enterprise, and an increase in demand for touchscreens within the education segment. As things progress there is some common ground among the three major segments in the PC market: consumer, education, and commercial. All of these are in desperate need of inventory. From IDC's perspective, the consumer segment has the biggest upside looking forward compared to pre-pandemic levels, followed by education, and then commercial. Most regions around the world are still carrying channel inventory that is well below normal and cancelled orders are not part of today's discussions. Demand remains high and supply remains constrained. As the component shortages continue into next year, we anticipate at least some of the buyers will settle for desktops in place of notebooks as the urgency of demand for any kind of PC remains quite high. Longer term, the consumer refresh cycle is also expected to be pulled in slightly as the pandemic has raised the profile of PCs and consumers continue to spend more time and dollars on PC gaming and content consumption.

On the Tablet front, this year the need for budget friendly yet versatile devices for hybrid working and learning solutions will be of utmost importance and this will continue to drive demand for these devices. This form factor has had a significant share of shipments in the education segment as schools around the world had shown a strong preference for this form factor due to its low cost and easy manageability. However, the rising popularity of Chromebooks is quickly leaving little room for tablets in markets such as the United States, Western Europe, and more recently, Japan. However, beyond 2021 both categories will continue to struggle as consumer and education demand is expected to slow. With the relaxation of lockdown restrictions, consumers will begin to increase spend on travel and other modes of entertainment, which in turn will impact growth in these devices.

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