The COVID-19 pandemic and a pivot to remote work have spurred growth in the long-struggling PC market.
PC shipments have mostly fallen over the last few quarters, with a particularly significant dip in Q1 2020 because of the pandemic’s impact on manufacturing. However, both IDC and Gartner report that PC shipments have grown in Q2 despite the slowing economy.
IDC says PC shipments have increased by 11.2 percent year-over-year while Gartner puts the growth at 2.8 percent. While that does seem like a significant difference, it’s worth noting that IDC includes Chromebooks in its numbers, Gartner does not.
Further, IDC says that the “need for portable computing was highlighted by intense Chromebook demand from both consumers and institutions” in Canada. In the U.S., IDC says there was “record demand from stay-at-home orders” for PCs.
It’s clear that remote work and school have fueled the increased demand for PCs. However, it’s important to remember that these shipment numbers don’t reflect actual sales. Instead, they represent shipments to retailers, who then sell them to consumers. The Verge points out that sales will likely be higher since consumers will also buy up existing inventory.
Recently, Microsoft reported an increase in demand for PCs and a significant overall jump in Windows usage.
“People are recognizing… trying to use an iPad to work from home is not gonna work. That PC form factor is huge and you can see that data in everything from supply chain and what’s happening with devices,” Microsoft’s head of Microsoft 365, Jared Spataro, told The Verge in an interview at the beginning of the pandemic.
It seems Spataro was right.