Worldwide PC shipments totalled 88.4 million units in the fourth quarter of 2021, a 5% decrease from the fourth quarter of 2020, according to preliminary results by Gartner.
This is the first year-over-year decline following six consecutive quarters of growth. For the year, PC shipments reached 339.8 million units in 2021, a 9.9% increase from 2020.
Gartner research director Mikako Kitagaw says, “A sharp decline in the U.S. PC market, caused by ongoing supply chain issues and the collapse in demand for Chromebooks, drove this quarter's slowdown.
“This likely signifies the end of the massive and unexpected growth in PC demand triggered by the pandemic."
Kitagaw continues, “However, the fourth quarter's decline only slightly tempered the PC market's growth in 2021, which saw the highest shipment volume since 2013.
"During the pandemic, shipment growth has been supported by an average selling price (ASP) hike, resulting in higher revenues and a healthier market overall.
"As a result, annual PC shipment volumes are not expected to decline to pre-pandemic levels for at least 2-3 years.
The top three vendors in the worldwide PC market remained unchanged in the fourth quarter of 2021, with Lenovo maintaining the number one spot in shipments.
Lenovo's worldwide PC shipments fell nearly 12% quartering the fourth quarter of 2021, the first period of year-over-year decline for the company since the first quarter of 2020.
This decline was due to the slowed U.S. market, weak Chromebook demand and supply chain issues, which impeded Lenovo's ability to supply PCs to enterprise customers.
These factors also contributed to HP's 4% year-over-year decline; however, HP's decline was tempered by robust growth in the Asia Pacific market.
Dell gained market share this period after notching a fifth consecutive quarter of growth. Shipment volume exceeded 17 million units for the first time in the company's history, led by strong performance in Latin America, EMEA and Asia Pacific.
When it comes to regions, excluding Japan, the Asia Pacific market grew by 11.5% year-over-year.
The mobile PC market was particularly strong in the region, as many private enterprises pre-ordered extra mobile PCs in anticipation of potential market shortages.
Overall, Gartner finds the pandemic drove the PC market revival worldwide.
Globally, PC shipments totalled 339.8 million units in 2021, a 9.9% increase from 2020, the analysts find.
After a long period of decline and occasional modest growth, the pandemic revived the PC industry, as evidenced by 2021's continued strong growth.
Gartner expects PC demand to slow for at least the next two years, but annual shipment volumes are not expected to decline to pre-pandemic levels in that period.
Kitagawa says, “The pandemic significantly changed business and consumer PC user behaviour, as people had to adopt to new ways of working and living.
“Post-pandemic, some of the newly established ways of using PCs will remain regular practice, such as remote or hybrid work styles, taking online courses and communicating with friends and family online.
These results are preliminary. Final statistics will be available soon to clients of Gartner's PC Quarterly Statistics Worldwide by Region program.
This program offers a comprehensive and timely picture of the worldwide PC market, allowing organisations to keep abreast of key issues and their future implications around the globe.