The PC market had a great first quarter, despite the global shortage of semiconductor chips. Research firm Gartner estimates that shipments of “traditional PCs,” meaning laptops and desktops, are up by 32 percent compared to Q1 2020 (via CNBC). IDC puts the number even higher, estimating 55 percent growth year-over-year. This seems to be the continuation of a trend — the PC market had a great 2020 as well.
Both firms agree that the growth is atypical — Gartner says that the growth is the fastest it’s seen since it started tracking the market in 2000, and IDC says that the drop in shipments from Q4 to Q1 is the smallest it’s seen since 2012. The raw numbers are also impressive — Gartner estimates that just under 70 million PCs were shipped, while IDC estimates around 84 million.
Of course, these numbers don’t exist in a vacuum — you may have already realized that the time period being compared against, Q1 2020, was rough for... well, everything, which includes the manufacturing and shipping of PCs. But while the growth comparison is definitely tilted in favor of Q1 2021, both firms estimate that the numbers could’ve been even higher, had it not been for the chip shortage.
The silicon shortage has affected almost everything, from trucks and cars, consoles, and the gaming PC component market. There are even reports that Apple has had to delay production of MacBooks and iPads. IDC points out that the shortage has contributed to higher average prices in the PC market, and that the shortages are likely to make PCs more difficult to get for the rest of the year.
It’s also worth noting that the pandemic is also likely affecting demand, and the return to normalcy on the horizon may affect people’s buying habits in future quarters. Whether demand will stick around or not isn’t certain, but both IDC and Gartner seem to think it will.