People have been transitioning to remote work all year long due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has driven a surge in demand for PCs as people invest in new setups to maintain productivity. Among the beneficiaries of this trend is Apple. The company just posted an all-time record quarter for its decades-old Mac business. Mac revenue topped $9 billion for the first time in its fiscal Q4, despite the fact that the tech titan is struggling with supply constraints across numerous product categories due to coronavirus-related disruptions within the supply chain.

Demand is expected to remain elevated in the final quarter of 2020.

13-inch MacBook Pro

Image source: Apple.

Working and learning aren't "going to go back to where we were"

This week, Strategy Analytics released estimates on the laptop market in the third quarter, and they showed that overall unit volumes jumped 34%. In addition to remote work, the back-to-school season led to robust sales in the educational market as many schools also embraced remote learning. Keep in mind that the estimates do not include desktop computers.

Here are the top five laptop vendors for the third quarter:


Q3 2020 Units

Q3 2020 Market Share

Growth (YOY)


14.7 million



Lenovo (OTC:LNVGY)

14.6 million




8.5 million




6 million




4.9 million




13.4 million




62.2 million



Data source: Strategy Analytics. YOY = year over year.

Apple stopped directly disclosing unit volumes a couple years ago, but Strategy Analytics' estimates suggest that the Cupertino tech giant's growth outpaced the broader laptop market, gaining market share in the process. The entire industry continues to see booming demand, but many manufacturers are struggling to meet that demand.

"The third quarter would have been even more productive for some vendors if they were able to deliver more devices to meet high demand," Strategy Analytics research analyst Chirag Upadhyay said. "Supply will remain a key concern as demand is expected to stay high amid rising COVID-19 infections around the world as the Northern Hemisphere enters a very difficult winter."

Alphabet (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) subsidiary Google made strong gains thanks to the popularity of Chromebooks in the educational market. Apple has attempted to position the iPad for that market, but many schools prefer Chromebooks due to lower costs and the inclusion of a standard keyboard. Chrome OS saw its market share dramatically expand from 9.7% a year ago to 16.1%, according to Strategy Analytics.

"I think the moves that have taken place to remote learning and remote work are not going to go back to normal," CEO Tim Cook said last month. "Normal will become something different because I think people are learning that there are aspects of this that work well. And so I don't believe that we are going to go back to where we were."

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.