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Remote Work and Remote Learning Are Driving a Surge in PC Demand

By Evan Niu, CFA – Jul 11, 2020 at 11:00AM

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Unlike in the first quarter, the industry is better equipped to meet that demand now.

The coronavirus pandemic is creating a boom in demand for traditional PCs, due to a wholesale shift to remote work at many companies across multiple industries. In addition, educational institutions have also moved toward remote learning solutions. The mature PC market had been stagnating for years in terms of unit volumes, but the virus has fundamentally altered many aspects of society.

Here's how the PC market fared in the second quarter.

Two MacBook Pro laptops

Among the top vendors, Apple saw the biggest jump in shipments. Image source: Apple.

Supply recovers to meet demand

This week, market researcher IDC released its latest estimates on the PC market, which showed that worldwide shipments jumped 11.2% to 72.3 million in the second quarter. The consumer electronics supply chain had been impacted early on in the quarter but quickly recovered as China undertook drastic measures to contain the virus. In contrast, global unit volumes had fallen in Q1 as companies struggled to keep up with demand.

Here are the top five PC vendors, according to IDC.


Q2 2020 Shipments

Q2 2020 Market Share

Growth (YOY)

HP (HPQ -0.60%)

18.1 million



Lenovo (LNVGY -2.90%)

17.4 million



Dell (DELL 0.25%)

12 million



Apple (AAPL 0.19%)

5.6 million




4.8 million




14.3 million




72.3 million



Data source: IDC. YOY = year over year.

"The strong demand driven by work-from-home as well as e-learning needs has surpassed previous expectations and has once again put the PC at the center of consumers' tech portfolio," IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement. "What remains to be seen is if this demand and high level of usage continues during a recession and into the post-COVID world since budgets are shrinking while schools and workplaces reopen."

HP overtook Lenovo to become the No. 1 vendor, after the Chinese original equipment manufacturer topped the rankings in Q1. HP successfully fended off a hostile takeover attempt by Xerox around the turn of the quarter, removing a major distraction and allowing the company to focus on the core business.

Dell is reportedly considering buying out the rest of VMware that it doesn't already own, a little under 20% of the virtualization specialist. Credit rating agency Moody's has said any potential deal wouldn't impact either company's existing credit ratings. Dell COO Jeff Clarke said in May, "Customers need essential technology now more than ever to put business continuity, remote working and learning plans into practice."

Apple updated its 13-inch MacBook Pro in May, finalizing its transition away from its beleaguered butterfly keyboards. That professional laptop is among the company's most popular models, which might explain Apple's 36% jump in shipments. More recently, Apple at long last announced that it would ditch Intel chips in Macs and shift to its own proprietary chips, a process that is expected to take about two years.

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple and Moody's. The Motley Fool recommends Intel and VMware. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Stocks Mentioned

Apple Stock Quote
$148.31 (0.19%) $0.28
Hp Stock Quote
$29.86 (-0.60%) $0.18
$16.31 (-2.90%) $0.49
Dell Technologies Stock Quote
Dell Technologies
$44.90 (0.25%) $0.11

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