20210113_IBT_PC_Annual Estimated worldwide PC shipments from 2006 to 2020 (in million units)* Photo: Statista/IBT

Thanks to hundreds of millions of people working, teaching, or studying from home in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the global PC industry just had its best year since 2015. According to new estimates from Gartner, global PC shipments grew 10.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020, providing a strong finish to an already good year. Total shipments amounted to 275 million for the past 12 months, up from 263 million in 2019.

"Prior to 2020, consumers had been shifting to a phone-first focus, yet the pandemic reversed this trend," Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner, explained. "PCs have resurfaced as an essential device as consumers, including younger children, are relying on them to for work, school, socializing and be entertained from their homes."

Prior to last year, there had already been a positive trend, as the end of support for Windows 7 had sparked a replacement cycle, ending seven years of negative growths in 2019. However, without the pandemic, that trend would likely have faded in 2020. In terms of market share, the top 4 remained unchanged with Lenovo the clear market leader ahead of HP, Dell, and Apple.