It’s official: PCs are back

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Fountain: Canalys

Microsoft’s original mission was “a computer on every desk and in every home.” Okay, sure, it was a “temporary goal,” not an enduring mission, as current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella put it. since then he has pointed out. And actually, they added another phrase when referring internally to the mission: “run Microsoft software.”

Anyway, the point is, maybe it wasn’t ambitious enough. It is turning out to be two computers, or more, and in some cases several computers per person.

That’s the big takeaway from the year-end statistics for the global PC market, released by research firms. Gardener, Canalys other IDC On Wednesday. Despite the impact of supply chain bottlenecks in the fourth quarter, PC shipments reached their highest point in nearly a decade for the full year, growing 10-15% to a total of 340 to 349 million units, depending on the estimates you use.

“PCs are now in the hands of both young students and older family members, while ownership of two or more PCs per person has become more common in developed markets,” said Ishan Dutt, a senior analyst at Canalys, in Press release. “Since the start of the pandemic, a higher-than-normal proportion of the PCs shipped have been new additions to the installed base rather than replacement devices, especially in areas such as education and remote work.”

Dutt added: “This has laid the foundation for the continued success of the PC industry as there is no going back on how integrated they are in our everyday lives.”

As for the “piece of Microsoft software running,” traditional Windows PC vendors still dominate the rankings, though in many cases the numbers include Chromebooks from many of those same computer manufacturers.

At the same time, Apple saw big gains in Mac shipments, with estimates putting its growth between 18% and 22% for the year (IDC chart above).

Microsoft reports its December quarter earnings on January 25, although the aforementioned fourth quarter decline (as shown in the Gartner chart above) means that the impact on its quarterly growth could be moderate.

But beyond that, the emerging consensus is that the pandemic has created a lasting shift in consumer behavior and the PC market. As Dutt, an analyst at Canalys, concluded, “This has laid the foundation for the continued success of the PC industry as there is no going back on how integrated they are in our everyday lives.”

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