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The US PC market just had its best quarter in 10 years

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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 September, a 3.6% increase over the same period last year, according to an estimate by technology research firm Gartner .

16.5 million PCs were shipped to the United States, an increase of 11.4% from the same period last year. It’s the fastest growing rate of US PCs in a decade, according to Gartner.

The PC market has been in decline for the past decade, with smartphones becoming dominant in many markets, and companies waiting for new versions of Microsoft Windows before upgrading. But this quarter, global consumer demand for new PCs was the highest in five years as the global coronavirus pandemic and simultaneous lockdowns boosted demand for home entertainment and distance education.

“On the consumer side, it really went down for 10 years, in part because a lot of people were using smartphones,” said Gartner research director Mikako Kitagawa. “But in the United States and Western Europe, shipments of laptops were very important, because everyone had to prepare for work from home.”

Globally, Lenovo’s shipments grew 8.3% year-over-year to 18.3 million shipments, making it the biggest beneficiary of this trend. HP, Dell, Apple and Acer rounded out the top five PC makers.

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

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

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