The U.S. PC market just had its best quarter in 10 years, Gartner says

A customer looks at computers at a Best Buy store in Northbrook, Ill.

Tim Boyle | Bloomberg | Getty Images

PC makers shipped 71.4 million PCs in the quarter ending in September, a 3.6% increase from the same period last year, according to an estimate from technology research company Gartner.

16.5 million PCs were shipped to the U.S., an 11.4% increase over the same period last year. That’s the fastest U.S. PC growth rate in a decade, according to Gartner.

The PC market has been declining on and off for the past decade as smartphones became dominant in many markets and businesses wait for new versions of Microsoft Windows before upgrading. But this quarter, worldwide consumer demand for new PCs was the highest it’s been in five years, as the global coronavirus pandemic and concurrent lockdowns drove demand for home entertainment and remote schooling.

“On the consumer side it was really declining for 10 years, partly because a lot of people used smartphones,” Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa said. “But in the US and Western Europe, notebook shipments were really strong, because everyone had to prepare for work from home.”

Globally, Lenovo shipments were up 8.3% year-over-year to 18.3 million shipments, making it the largest beneficiary from the trend. HP, Dell, Apple, and Acer rounded out the top five PC manufacturers.

Last week, Canalys, another research firm, found that computer shipments were up 12.7% year-over-year. However, Canalys included laptops running Google’s ChromeOS operating system, which are less expensive and popular with schools, whereas Gartner’s estimate excludes them, focusing on laptops and desktops running Microsoft‘s Windows or Apple‘s MacOS.

Including Chromebooks, the total PC market grew 9%, Gartner said. Chromebook shipments grew 90% year-over-year.

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