PC sales slump might get you a great Black Friday deal - here's what we know

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Sales of PCs and business computers around the world are slowing as deman begins to ease off post-pandemic, new figures have shown.

Global PC sales hit 84.1 million units during the third quarter of 2021, Gartner reported, a slight growth, but still the lowest level in some time.

Gartner's Q3 2021 figures reported a 1% increase compared to the same period in 2020, perhaps indicating the market is set to slow once again.

Sales slowdown

Gartner's findings were backed up by similar stats from fellow analyst house IDC, which claimed Q3 2021 PC shipments totalled 86.7 million units, up 3.9% compared to the previous year.

IDC said the slowdown was an inevitable knock-on effect of the global chip shortage affecting not just PC manufacturers, but technology firms from all kinds of industries.

“The PC industry continues to be hampered by supply and logistical challenges and unfortunately these issues have not seen much improvement in recent months,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile and Consumer Device Trackers.

“Given the current circumstances, we are seeing some vendors reprioritize shipments amongst various markets, allowing emerging markets to maintain growth momentum while some mature markets begin to slow.”

Back-to-school effect

Gartner noted that the fall in sales could be due to a drop-off in the education and consumer sector, as the re-opening of schools worldwide meant no need to continue supporting at-home learning.

The firm included Chromebooks in its figures for the first time, but the fall in demand from the education sector saw sales of the lightweight devices decline 17% in Q3 2021 - the first double-digit year-over-year decline in Chromebook sales since the devices were launched in 2011.

Its figures found that Lenovo maintained top spot as the world's largest PC vendor, with Q3 2021 shipments of 19.9 million units giving it a 23.7% market share, up 1.8% from the previous year.

HP came in second, with its 17.6 million shipments giving it 20.9% market share, with its sales down 5.8% on 2020. Dell saw a 26.5% increase in shipments to take 18.1% of the market, followed by Apple (8.6%) and Acer and Asus tied on 7.2% equally.

“As many schools worldwide reopened, there was no longer an immediate need for PCs and Chromebooks to support at-home education,” said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner.

“Business PC demand remained strong, led by economic recovery in key regions and the return of some workers to offices,” added Kitagawa. “However, business PC growth was concentrated in the desktop segment as semiconductor shortages continued to constrain laptop shipments. These component shortages are expected to persist into the first half of 2022.”

Mike Moore
Deputy Editor, TechRadar Pro

Mike Moore is Deputy Editor at TechRadar Pro. He has worked as a B2B and B2C tech journalist for nearly a decade, including at one of the UK's leading national newspapers and fellow Future title ITProPortal, and when he's not keeping track of all the latest enterprise and workplace trends, can most likely be found watching, following or taking part in some kind of sport.