Worldwide PC shipments totalled 84.1 million units in the third quarter of 2021, an increase of 1 per cent from the third quarter of 2020, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc.

The focus of consumer and educational spending began to shift away from PCs as Covid-19 vaccines became more widely available, to other priorities, slowing momentum in the market, as per the report.

“As many schools worldwide reopened, there was no longer an immediate need for PCs and Chromebooks to support at-home education,” said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner.

“Business PC demand remained strong, led by economic recovery in key regions and the return of some workers to offices,” said Kitagawa.

“However, business PC growth was concentrated in the desktop segment as semiconductor shortages continued to constrain laptop shipments. These component shortages are expected to persist into the first half of 2022," Kitagawa added.

Starting this quarter, Gartner has included Chromebooks in its traditional PC market results. Chromebook shipments declined 17 per cent in Q3 2021 owing to decreased demand in the education market.

"This was the first double-digit year-over-year decline in Chromebook sales since its introduction to the market in 2011," the report said.

Top vendors

The top three vendors in the worldwide PC market remained unchanged year-over-year, with Lenovo maintaining the top spot in shipments with a 23.7 per cent market share.

It was followed by HP with a 20.9 per cent market share, Dell at 18.1 per cent and Apple at 8.6 per cent. Acer and Asus tied up for the firth spot with a 7.2 per cent market share each as per the preliminary statistics.

Lenovo's growth was hindered during Q3 2021 after five consecutive quarters of double-digit growth. It saw growth in all regions except Japan, where shipments declined by over 50 per cent, as a government program in the region to purchase PCs for educational use largely came to an end.

"Overall, Lenovo’s shipments were adversely affected by the slowdown in the consumer market and supply shortages in the enterprise market. Simultaneously, Lenovo benefited from stable business PC demands and was able to be more flexible in responding to component shortages due to a higher mix of in-house manufacturing," the report said.

HP recorded second consecutive quarter of year-over-year decline, driven by a 30 per cent decrease in shipments in the US due to the weakening Chromebook demand in the education segment. It also continued to face supply chain issues this quarter.

"A major backlog of unfilled orders led HP to potentially miss out opportunities that its competitors capitalised upon," as per the report

Dell recorded strong results during the quarter marking its fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit growth and reaching over 15 million shipments for the first time ever. Dell’s limited focus in the consumer market helped the company to be less impacted by slowed consumer PC demand, the report said.

Apple managed to achieve 7.4 per cent growth despite a weak consumer market.

The tech giant's M1-based PCs have been well received by the user community, driving increased shipments. However, anticipating a potential product refresh in coming months, some Apple buyers have put laptop purchases on hold, which negatively affected shipment volumes in the quarter

Global markets

After five consecutive quarters of double-digit growth, the US PC market declined 8.8 per cent overall in the third quarter of 2021.

The EMEA PC market grew 11.8 per cent YoY to 23.5 million units, presenting a mixed picture of strong business demand and weakening consumer demand.

Excluding Japan, the Asia Pacific PC market grew by 5.7 per cent YoY, marking its sixth consecutive quarter of growth.

“Unlike businesses in Western Europe and North America, Japanese businesses are not motivated to upgrade laptops for hybrid work, as many companies have already stopped remote work entirely or plan to terminate it as they open offices,” said Kitagawa.

Moving forward, the fourth quarter of 2021 will see the global rollout of Microsoft Windows 11, the first major operating system upgrade from Microsoft since 2015.

"The Windows 11 rollout is expected to have a limited immediate impact for the business market as enterprise-class PCs will likely continue to be available with Windows 10 until 2023," the report said.

Gartner predicts that by early 2023, less than 10 per cent of new enterprise PCs will be deployed with Windows 11.

"Overall, Gartner data indicates that PC shipments in the coming holiday season will be weaker than a year ago, with demand driven largely by replacements rather than net-new purchases," it said.