(Reuters) — Global shipments of personal computers rose at their fastest pace in two decades in the first quarter as people bought computers to help them work and study remotely during the COVID-19 crisis, according to research firm Gartner.

PC shipments, which include both laptops and desktop computers, grew 32% in the quarter to 69.9 million units, Gartner said.

China’s Lenovo Group grabbed the lead with a 25.1% market share, followed by HP, Dell, Apple, and Acer, according to the report.

“This growth should be viewed in the context of two unique factors: comparisons against a pandemic-constrained market and the current global semiconductor shortage,” said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner.

“Without the shipment chaos in early 2020, this quarter’s growth may have been lower.”

Demand surge

The coronavirus-driven surge in demand, along with an unprecedented shortage in semiconductor microchips, has strained the supply chain of personal computers.

While the chip shortage was originally concentrated in the auto industry, it has now spread to a range of other consumer electronics, including smartphones, refrigerators, and microwaves.

Gartner said demand for Google Chromebooks, which it does not account for in its analysis, tripled in the first quarter, thanks to strong demand from educational institutions in North America.

“It is still reasonable to conclude that PC demand could remain strong even after stay-home restrictions ease,” Gartner said.

VentureBeat

VentureBeat’s mission is to be a digital town square for technical decision-makers to gain knowledge about transformative technology and transact.

Our site delivers essential information on data technologies and strategies to guide you as you lead your organizations. We invite you to become a member of our community, to access:

  • up-to-date information on the subjects of interest to you
  • our newsletters
  • gated thought-leader content and discounted access to our prized events, such as Transform 2021: Learn More
  • networking features, and more

Become a member