Pandemic Fuels Highest Demand For Personal Computers In 10 Years

Personal Computers, record sales, covid-19, work from home, education, gaming

The COVID-19 pandemic is fueling a shift from mobile devices as personal computers (PCs) close 2020 with the biggest sales numbers in 10 years, according to a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report on Tuesday (Jan. 12), citing industry data.

“Demand is pushing the PC market forward and all signs indicate this surge still has a way to go,” Ryan Reith, program vice president with International Data Corp.’s (IDC) Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers, told the WSJ.

He added that working, learning, and entertaining from home upped overall demand for computers in 2020, with record numbers of gaming PCs and monitors sold. Chromebooks have also seen growth in the consumer market.

Industry data varies among providers because of how each company defines a PC versus a mobile device. According to IDC data, 302.6 million PCs were sold worldwide in 2020, up 13 percent from 2019. Research firm Gartner showed 275 million sold, up almost 5 percent. Canalys showed sales of 297 million PCs.

The “phone-first focus” of the past few years has shifted due to the pandemic, Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner, told the WSJ. She said that strong demand for PCs should continue through the first half of this year.

Fourth-quarter sales were especially robust due to combined demand from the holidays and the pandemic. Gartner data shows that Chromebook shipments accelerated over 80 percent to nearly 30 million units, with some 11.7 million Chromebooks shipped in the fourth quarter alone.

IDC showed that overall PC sales in the fourth quarter were up 26 percent to 91.6 million units. Gartner showed an 11 percent hike to 79.4 million units. Data from Canalys showed a 25 percent growth to 90.3 million units.

Although the pandemic caused economic fallout in many businesses and industries, some came out winners. Sales at Guitar Center — the country’s largest retailer of musical instruments — were high enough to pull stores out of bankruptcy.