Gartner and IDC have both issued their estimates of PC shipments for Q3 2020, and both report Mac shipments up year-on-year. Both also agree that Apple increased its market share during the year.

As always with market intelligence firms, the exact numbers vary, but the two companies agree on the core story …

Both agree on four things:

  • Apple held its #4 ranking despite competition from Acer and ASUS
  • Apple shipments increased significantly over Q3 2019
  • Apple increased its market share measurably
  • Lenovo, HP and Dell retain the top three slots

Apple sits between Dell and Acer in terms of market share:

  1. Lenovo
  2. HP
  3. Dell
  4. Apple
  5. Acer
  6. ASUS

Both also agree that shipments would have been even higher for PC manufacturers were it not for component shortages created by the coronavirus crisis.

Gartner: “While PC supply chain disruptions tied to the COVID-19 pandemic have been largely resolved, this quarter saw shortages of key components, such as panels, as a result of this high consumer demand.”

IDC: “Had the market not been hampered by component shortages, notebook shipments would have soared even higher during the third quarter as market appetite was yet unsatiated. Unfortunately, shortages of multiple components, such as processors, panels, and other subcomponents, led to missed opportunity for many vendors.”

IDC paints a far rosier picture for Apple. It has Macs enjoying 38.9% growth, from 4.96 million sales in Q3 2019 to 6.89M in the same quarter this year. Apple’s market share increased, it says, from 7% to 8.5%.

Gartner estimates far lower growth, reporting Mac shipments up 7.3%, from 5.14 million Macs in Q3 last year to 5.51M this year. It puts Apple’s market share at 7.7%, up from 7.5%.

The differing shipment estimates cannot be explained other than using different data sources. Estimating these numbers is always an inexact science, using a variety of public and survey data sources. Where it comes to market share, the two companies do use different definitions for ‘personal computers.’ Neither counts iPads, but IDC excludes ‘detachable tablets and slate tablets,’ which implies it doesn’t count Microsoft Surface models. Gartner explicitly includes the Surface.

While the pandemic hampered the supply side, it boosted demand.

Gartner: Consumer demand for PCs due to home entertainment and distance learning needs during the ongoing pandemic, along with the strongest growth the U.S. PC market has seen in 10 years, drove the global market momentum. “This quarter had the strongest consumer PC demand that Gartner has seen in five years,” said Mikako Kitagawa, research director at Gartner. “The market is no longer being measured in the number of PCs per household; rather, the dynamics have shifted to account for one PC per person.”

IDC: “Consumer demand and institutional demand approached record levels in some cases,” said Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. [In the US,] the traditional PC market witnessed yet another extraordinary quarter posting strong double-digit shipment growth. Preliminary results reflect continued strong buyer sentiment fueled by stay-at-home PC needs and resultant inventory replenishment.

We’re not expecting an Apple Silicon Mac launch in today’s event – that will likely happen next month – but there’s an outside chance we’ll get some kind of update or teaser from Apple. The company did yesterday reference the fact that it thinks of applications for multiple devices when designing its chips.

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