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PC sales grow again - with tablets and Chromebooks leading the way

Chromebook
(Image credit: Future)
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After growing for the first time in seven years (opens in new tab) during the fourth quarter of last year, the PC market experienced a second successive quarter of strong growth this year and sales will likely increase further with Black Friday (opens in new tab) just around the corner.

According to new research from Canalys (opens in new tab), 124.5m units were shipped during Q3 of 2020 and the total PC market including tablets is up 23 percent year-on-year.

Lenovo led the charge with 23.5m tablets, notebooks and desktops shipped during the third quarter though it was followed closely by Apple with 22.1 million Macs and iPads shipped. HP took the third spot with 18.6mm units shipped, followed by Dell with 12m and Samsung with 9.9m.

The strong surge in demand was likely a result of more employees working from home (opens in new tab) and students shifting to distance learning as a result of the pandemic.

Tablets and Chromebooks

Despite the fact that the worldwide tablet market (opens in new tab) has been declining since 2015, 44.3m units were shipped during Q3 2020 and tablet sales were up by 43 percent year-on-year. Canalys analyst Victoria Li provided further insight on the growth of tablets this year in a press release, (opens in new tab) saying:

“Tablets have come back from the dead as they deliver the perfect balance of mobility and computing power at a wide range of price points during such a crucial time. Tablets are a natural choice for first-time PC users who want something uncomplicated and affordable to work with. The natural extension of Android and iOS on tablets makes it easy for parents, students and educators who dabbled with extended remote learning for the first time in their lives and prefer the ease of installing apps that these platforms offer. Another contributing factor is the role these tablets play in the accelerated pace of digital transformation that big and small companies are undertaking.”

Tablets weren't the only big performers during Q3 as Chromebooks (opens in new tab) also saw impressive growth with HP leading the market with 3.2m units shipped. At the same time, Lenovo ramped up Chromebook shipments by over 300 percent to come in second place with 1.8m units shipped. Dell, Acer and Asus made up the remainder of the top five Chromebook vendors in Canalys' PC Analysis with each company posting strong growth and record Chromebook shipment volumes.

As countries around the world are experiencing a second wave of the coronavirus, PC, tablet and Chromebook sales will likely continue to grow during Q4 of 2020 and Q1 of 2021 as schools switch back to distance learning and businesses continue to allow their employees to work remotely.

After working with the TechRadar Pro team for the last several years, Anthony is now the security and networking editor at Tom’s Guide where he covers everything from data breaches and ransomware gangs to the best way to cover your whole home or business with Wi-Fi. When not writing, you can find him tinkering with PCs and game consoles, managing cables and upgrading his smart home.