PC market bounces back in Q2, Gartner and IDC report

However, the recovery may be short-lived, the research firms warned, as the pandemic-spurred demand for PCs levels off.

Global PC shipments bounced back in the second quarter of 2020, according to IDC and Gartner, after pandemic-related supply chain and logistics problems recovered enough to meet strong consumer demand. However, the recovery may be short-lived, the research firms warned. 

Worldwide, PC shipments came to 64.8 million units in the second quarter of 2020, according to Gartner, representing a 2.8% year-over-year increase. IDC reported global shipments growing 11.2% year-over-year, reaching a total of 72.3 million units. 

Gartner and IDC define the PC market slightly differently: Gartner's data includes desk-based PCs, notebook PCs, and ultramobile premiums (such as Microsoft Surface), but not Chromebooks or iPads. IDC counts desktops, notebooks (including Chromebooks), and workstations, but not tablets or x86 Servers. 

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"The second quarter of 2020 represented a short-term recovery for the worldwide PC market, led by exceptionally strong growth in EMEA," Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner, said in a statement. "After the PC supply chain was severely disrupted in early 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the growth this quarter was due to distributors and retail channels restocking their supplies back to near-normal levels."

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Mobile PC growth was particularly strong, Kitagawa noted, driven by factors including business continuity for remote working and online education. "However, this uptick in mobile PC demand will not continue beyond 2020, as shipments were mainly boosted by short-term business needs due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic."

Similarly, IDC's Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement, "What remains to be seen is if this demand and high level of usage continues during a recession and into the post-COVID world since budgets are shrinking while schools and workplaces reopen."

HP and Lenovo vied for the top spot among vendors in Q2. According to Gartner, Lenovo just barely came out ahead with 25% of the market, while HP won a 24.9% market share. HP had a particularly strong quarter, overcoming Q1 supply chain issues and growing more than 17%. 

According to IDC, HP carried 25% of the market with more than 17% growth, while Lenovo won 24.1% of the market. 

The list of top vendors was rounded out by Dell, Apple, and Acer. 

In the US, according to Gartner, HP was the top vendor with nearly 33% market share, followed by Dell with a 26% market share. Overall, Gartner said, the US PC market grew 3.5% year-over-year in its fifth consecutive quarter of growth. Double-digit mobile PC growth was offset by a 44% decline in desk-based PCs.

According to IDC, the US market had its strongest quarter since the end of 2009, with shipments surpassing 21 million, representing double-digit growth. The strong quarter follows a significant decline in shipments in Q1.  Both IDC and Gartner said shelter-in-place orders across the US contributed to the demand.