Global PC sales return to pre-pandemic volumes in first quarter

Chinese manufacturer Lenovo led the market with 23% market share

Chinese manufacturer Lenovo once again held the top spot and outgrew the global personal computer market, according to a new IDC report. Reuters
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After two years of decline, global shipments of personal computers returned to pre-pandemic volumes during the first quarter of 2024, according to a new report by research company International Data Corporation.

Global PC shipments hit 59.8 million in the first three months of the year, growing 1.5 per cent year on year, the research showed.

First quarter PC volumes rivalled those seen in the same period in 2019, when 60.5 million units were shipped.

Growth was largely achieved due to year-on-year comparisons as the market had declined 28.7 per cent during the first quarter of 2023, which was the lowest point in PC history, IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker showed.

“Despite China’s struggles, the recovery is expected to continue in 2024, as newer PCs powered by artificial intelligence hit shelves later this year and as commercial buyers begin refreshing the PCs that were purchased during the pandemic,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers.

“Along with growth in shipments, AI PCs are also expected to carry higher price tags, providing further opportunity for PC and component makers.”

Global PC shipments dropped 14 per cent on an annual basis in 2023 as a result of a slowdown in demand from commercial and consumer sectors, according to a report by Counterpoint Research in January.

Although there were several product launches in the second half of last year, they did not contribute to sales because most of them will not start shipping until 2024.

PC shipments growth dropped 0.2 per cent annually to 65.1 million units in the fourth quarter of last year. This was the eighth consecutive quarter to record a year-on-year shipment decline.

PCs powered by AI are expected to drive a strong rebound in the global PC market, which continues to grapple with weak demand, a study by Counterpoint Research showed last year.

AI PCs are projected to have a 10-year compound annual growth rate of 50 per cent from 2020, eventually dominating the market after 2026, with a penetration rate of more than 50 per cent, Counterpoint Research said.

Lenovo GM talks about the tablet and PC market

Lenovo GM talks about the tablet and PC market

Intel, Qualcomm and other makers of PC CPUs are “working closely” with original equipment manufacturers to develop next-generation mainstream models, and a lot of product launches are expected in 2024, “marking a new chapter for the PC industry”, the Hong Kong-based research company added.

Annual PC shipments could return to pre-coronavirus levels in 2024 and would also be boosted by user upgrades to Microsoft Windows 11 and the next wave of Arm-based computers, the research showed.

With inflation numbers trending down, PC shipments have begun to recover in most regions, leading to growth in the Americas as well as Europe, the Middle East and Africa, according to the IDC report.

However, the deflationary pressures in China directly impacted the global PC market, it said.

As the largest consumer of desktop PCs, weak demand in China led to yet another quarter of declines for global desktop shipments, which already faced pressure from notebooks as the preferred form, the US company added.

Chinese manufacturer Lenovo once again held the top spot and outgrew the market largely as a result of the steep decline in shipments experienced in the first three months of 2023, according to IDC.

Lenovo and its US counterpart Hewlett-Packard led the market with 23 per cent and 20.1 per cent market shares.

They were followed by Dell (15.5 per cent market share), Apple (8.1 per cent) and Acer (6.2 per cent).

Lenovo sold 13.7 million PCs globally, followed by HP (12 million), Dell (9.3 million), Apple (4.8 million) and Acer (3.7 million) in the first quarter, the data showed.

Apple's strong growth was also due to an outsized decline in the prior year, the report said.

Updated: April 13, 2024, 8:51 AM