PC sales are back to 2012 levels, up 34% from their 2017 nadir

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  • The PC market grew by 14.8% in 2021, shipping the highest number of desktops, laptops and workstations in a single year since 2012.
  • That’s a notable correction for a sector that technology investors recently wrote off as a sleepy zone in decline, like a few years ago.
  • According to IDC, the six largest PC companies shipped in 2021 were Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, Asus and Acer.

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The PC market grew by 14.8% in 2021, shipping the largest number of desktops, laptops and workstations in a single year since 2012. New data from IDC, a research firm.

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According to preliminary data provided by IDC, 2021 shipments grew more than 34% from the industry low point in 2017 to 349 million units.

It's a remarkable recovery for a sector that was written off by technology investors and operators as a sleepy zone in the recent fall as smartphones recently became the most important and highest-volume product in the electronics business.

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The recovery in PC sales has been driven by the Covid-19 pandemic. As the pandemic shut down economies around the world, with families realizing they needed new laptops for family members going to virtual school, companies decided to buy new laptops for their employees working from home. did, and sales began to pick up.

The recovery also came in a year marked by temporary shortages in PCs, particularly around the fall, driven by supply constraints during the global chip shortage.

One of the questions facing the market is whether the growth in the last two years is sustainable or will shipments start declining again as they did a decade ago. In December, IDC said The market had pulled off peak pandemic demand, and forecast a recession in 2022.

Market participants expect PC sales to continue on their current trajectory.

"We're moving from one PC per household to one PC per person per household, which is the smartphone model."
Rahul Tiku
Senior Vice President, Dell Client Product Group

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger said in an interview in October that he believed the PC market would be on a new path driven by the pandemic. Intel is a leading manufacturer of central processors for desktops and laptops with approximately 80% market share.

"We think the PC business is only structurally bigger now. The million-unit-a-day business is now," Gelsinger said.

Dell executive Rahul Tiku said the pandemic has brought about a permanent change in shopping behavior now that everyone needs their own PC.

"We're moving from one PC per household to one PC per person per household, which is the smartphone model," said Tiku, senior vice president of Dell's Client Product Group. "I think the PCs are in the middle of transitioning on that now."

According to IDC, the six largest PC companies shipped in 2021 were Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, Asus and Acer.

Another major beneficiary of the PC boom is Microsoft, which sells the Windows operating system used on most PCs. Although the software giant has shifted its focus to cloud services like Azure in recent years, Windows is still a big business, generating $5.68 billion in sales in the third calendar quarter of 2021, up from the previous year. That's a 10% increase from the quarter.

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