In brief: The Covid-19 pandemic saw much of the tech industry experience an unprecedented sales boom. Demand for PCs, in particular, blew up throughout 2020, with global shipments growing 26.1 percent YoY in Q4. Now that the new year is well underway, growth is still strong but much more subdued as the world adapts to living with the coronavirus.
None of this is a surprise, really -- not 2020's excellent performance figures or 2021's lower numbers. Mid-2020 is about when governments, companies, and schools began ramping up remote work and learning policies to help curb the spread of Covid-19. This prompted individuals and organizations to purchase new machines en-masse, driving up sales.
Now, though, it seems demand has cooled somewhat. According to a new IDC report, the industry has grown 13.2 percent as of Q2 this year when compared to the same period during 2020. However, 13 percent growth is far less than the nearly-56 percent and 25.8 percent (both year-over-year) we saw in Q1 2021 and Q4 2020, respectively. IDC believes this difference in demand could be an early indicator that purchasers are beginning to adjust their spending priorities after almost a year of "aggressive PC buying."
Of course, there could be other reasons besides lower demand that may account for the growth decline. As IDC points out, the notebook industry has been facing significant supply scarcity, affecting available stock for end users. Though desktop machines are faring somewhat better, they haven't been free from pandemic-related shortages either (and snagging reasonably-priced individual parts feels like a fool's errand).
Will the holiday season rekindle demand, or will growth drop even further? For now, we'll just have to wait and see how the industry handles the rest of 2021.
Regarding company-specific performance, IDC puts Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, and Acer in its top 5 list for worldwide "traditional" PC shipments. Lenovo shipped just over 20 million units in Q2 2021, with HP trailing close behind at 18 million units shipped.
Dell is further back, having shipped almost 14 million units, and Apple and Acer are statistically tied with roughly 6 million shipments each.