Laptop shipments soar 81% in the first quarter of 2021

Front corner of a laptop computer
(Image credit: IT Pro)

Remote and hybrid work patterns have driven global demand for laptops to record levels, according to Strategy Analytics, which claims the PC subcategory grew 81% year-on-year in the first quarter.

Working from home drove commercial demand, along with the laptop upgrade cycle. Consumers, driven by demand for online learning and gaming, bought more laptop computers too.

Vendor market rankings remained unchanged from last year. Lenovo retained the top slot, shipping 16.3 million units worldwide, up 84% year-over-year. HP stayed in second place with 15.4 million shipments, up an impressive 91% YoY, followed by Dell, which saw slower growth at 37% YoY.

Apple and Acer turned in the strongest growth, with both seeing a 94% jump in shipments. Between them, the top five vendors decreased their market share from 78.6% to 76.8%, showing a slowdown in consolidation.

Chromebooks also did well, according to the company, which added that the education market had driven demand for these low-cost, cloud-connected devices. The small- to medium-sized business market also chipped in on Chromebook’s growth.

Chrome's market share jumped from 11.7% to 17.7% in Q1, helping eat into Windows' market share, which fell from 79.6% in Q1 2020 to 73% this year. Apple's macOS made a slight gain, reaching 8.4% market share this year - up from 7.8% in Q1 2020.


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IDC Chromebook figures from the end of April also noted strong growth. The company reported a 357.1% spike in Q1 Chromebook shipments from 2.8 million to 13 million in preliminary figures. HP led the pack with a 33.5% market share, followed by Lenovo (25.6%), Acer (14.5%), Dell (11.3%), and Samsung (8%), IDC said.

According to Strategy Analytics, the shipment boost in laptops is due in part to dire figures from this time last year, as the pandemic was just taking off. Nevertheless, it bodes well for the marketplace, said Strategy Analytics, adding that shipments grew despite ongoing supply chain shortages. This potentially means we can expect further pent-up demand to buoy the laptop market later this year.

Danny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury has been a print journalist specialising in technology since 1989 and a freelance writer since 1994. He has written for national publications on both sides of the Atlantic and has won awards for his investigative cybersecurity journalism work and his arts and culture writing. 

Danny writes about many different technology issues for audiences ranging from consumers through to software developers and CIOs. He also ghostwrites articles for many C-suite business executives in the technology sector and has worked as a presenter for multiple webinars and podcasts.