Image: asiandelight, Getty Images/iStockphoto

The PC industry was the recipient of another banner year as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic forced organizations and remote workers to stock up on computers. For 2021 as a whole, PC shipments totaled 341 million units, 15% higher than in 2020, 27% higher than in 2019, and the largest number of shipments since 2012, research firm Canalys said on Wednesday.

SEE: VPN: Picking a provider and troubleshooting tips (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

The annual results were boosted by strong demand for desktops, notebooks and workstations during the fourth quarter. For the final quarter of 2021, shipments rose to 91.7 million, a gain of 1% from the same quarter in 2020. Shipments increased despite supply chain constraints that hampered manufacturers and vendors throughout the year.

Beyond shipments, the industry grabbed a hefty bump in revenue. For the year, overall revenue sailed to $253 billion, up 15% from the $220 billion seen in 2020. And for the fourth quarter, estimated revenue climbed to $70 billion, a gain of 11% from $62.3 billion for the final quarter of 2020.

Image: Canalys

A two-year compound annual growth rate of 13% for 2020 and 2021 shows the effects of the pandemic on PC demand. With so many people working and attending school remotely, shipments of notebooks and mobile workstations jumped by 16% to 275 million units last year. But even desktop shipments, which typically fell each year in the past, rose by 7% in 2021 to 66 million units.

“For the market to post double-digit growth over an impressive 2020, despite the constant cloud of supply constraints, speaks volumes about how strong PC demand has been over the last 12 months,” Canalys senior analyst Ishan Dutt said in a press release. “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. Since the onset of the pandemic, a larger than normal proportion of PCs shipped have been new additions to the installed base rather than replacement devices, especially in areas such as education and remote work.”

Among the top five computer vendors, all saw an increase in shipments for the year. Lenovo took the top spot with a 24% market share on shipments of 82.1 million. In second place, HP snagged a 21.7% cut of the market with shipments of 74 million. With a market share of 17.4%, Dell shipped 59.3 million units for 2021. In fourth place, Apple carved out an 8.5% slice of the market on shipments of 28.9 million. And Acer took home a 7.1% market share with shipments of 24.3 million.

For the fourth quarter, Lenovo and HP both saw declines in PC shipments, while the rest all experienced gains. Still, Lenovo led with the highest market share and total number of shipments for the quarter, followed by HP in second place.

Image: Canalys

As 2022 unfolds and people continue to work remotely, Canalys expects the demand for PCs to keep rising.

“While 2021 was the year of digital transformation, 2022 will be the year of digital acceleration,” Canalys principal analyst Rushabh Doshi said in the press release. “We will see revenue growth in the industry from spending on premium PCs, monitors, accessories and other technology products that enable us to work from anywhere, collaborate around the world and remain ultra-productive. The importance of faster, better, more resilient and more secure PCs has never been greater, and the industry is willing to innovate and push the boundaries to keep this momentum going.”