Canalys: 2021 PC shipments grow 1% despite major Q4 slump

The US PC market managed to cling to annual growth in 2021, despite fourth quarter sales plummeting by 28%.
Written by Michael Gariffo, Staff Writer

US PC shipments grew 1% year over year in 2021, despite a dramatic 28% drop in sales during the year's final quarter, Canalys said. 

The fourth quarter edition of Canalys PC sales tracking report for the United States found PC sales driven downward by a 28% drop in notebook shipments to 17.5 million units moved during the quarter. Canalys blamed the decline on the US education market nearing its saturation point for Chromebook deployments

Meanwhile, tablet shipments shrank 31% to 12.7 million shipped, and desktops rebounded by 9% to 3.6 million shipments as "commercial investment in on-premises work continued to increase." 

Despite Q4's downward trend, Canalys expects 2022 to provide "significant opportunities, especially from a revenue perspective," due to "strong business demand." It also expects continued efforts to update systems that became outdated during pandemic-driven scarcity to drive a bump in sales during 2022's second half. 

On the Q4 vendor ranking list, Dell led all suppliers, despite dropping 12.1% from its strong performance in 2020's final quarter. The PC maker shipped 5.89 million units for 28% of the market. It was followed by HP with 5.36 million units for 25.5% of sales, a 34.9% drop from its own Q4 2020 performance. Lenovo saw a similar 34.5% year-over-year decline in third place with 3.07 million units and a 14.6% market share. 

The top five were rounded out by Apple in fourth with 2.82 million shipments and 13.4% of sales (down 3.1% from a year ago), and Asus, the only company to show growth with a 1.2% bump that raised its latest quarter to 896,000 shipments for 4.3% of the market. 

The drops during the final quarter were countered completely for all top five vendors by the first three quarters of the year. HP, which held first for the full calendar year shipped 25.9 million PCs for 28.9% of the market (0.5% growth), followed by Dell with 22 million and 24.5% of shipments (6.5% growth). Lenovo held third here as well, thanks to 15.1 million shipments and 16.8% of sales (11% growth). 

Meanwhile, Apple saw the highest year-over-year growth at 12%, shipping 10 million PCs for an 11.1% share. Acer grew a more modest 4.2% to hold 5% of the market with 4.5 million PCs shipped. 

On the tablet front, Apple was once again the undisputed leader with 19.1 million units across its iPad lineup shipped during the year, representing 42.1% of the entire category, despite a 17.3% drop from its 2020 figures. Amazon's Fire tablets held a distant second place with 10.9 million shipments for 23.9% of sales, a 7.9% drop. 

Samsung was the only company to show any growth in 2021 tablet sales, rising 4.5% to 7.9 million shipments and 17.4% of the market. The remainder of the top five slots were held by Microsoft with 1.8 million units moved for 3.9% of sales (down 3.5% since 2020) and Lenovo with 1.3 million tablets sold for 3% of sales (down 12.2% over the same period). 

Editorial standards