It’s pretty much known that sales of PCs jumped worldwide in the third quarter, as the coronavirus pandemic kept kids and office workers at home, and therefore looking for new computers, to the point where there are even reports of a laptop shortage.
The two research firms that release quarterly statistics about PC shipments both put out their numbers for the third quarter on Monday, and while they agree that shipments rose, they’re not in agreement on how much.
IDC, in its Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker for the third quarter, reported that shipments grew 14.6 percent year over year to 81.3 million units. Gartner Research, in its own Q3 results, saw a 3.6 percent increase over the third quarter of 2019, to 71.4 million units.
A third firm, Canalys, put out its results earlier this week, and they had the global market increasing to 79.2 million units shipped in the third quarter, a 12.7 percent increase over the same period last year.
One difference is that IDC includes Chromebooks in its totals, while Gartner does not. Both firms described their results as “preliminary.”
“Consumer demand and institutional demand approached record levels in some cases,” Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, said in its release. “Gaming, Chromebooks, and in some cases cellular-enabled notebooks were all bright spots during the quarter. Had the market not been hampered by component shortages, notebook shipments would have soared even higher during the third quarter as market appetite was yet unsatiated.”
IDC added that shortages of some parts kept the number of shipments from being even larger. And it said that the U.S. posted double-digit growth, thanks to “strong buyer sentiment fueled by stay-at-home PC needs and resultant inventory replenishment.” Gartner said that the U.S. market had “a particularly strong quarter with 11.4% growth year over year, which is the first time in ten years that the region has seen double-digit growth.”
Gartner agreed on the demand.
“This quarter had the strongest consumer PC demand that Gartner has seen in five years,” said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner.
“The market is no longer being measured in the number of PCs per household; rather, the dynamics have shifted to account for one PC per person. While PC supply chain disruptions tied to the COVID-19 pandemic have been largely resolved, this quarter saw shortages of key components, such as panels, as a result of this high consumer demand.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.