U.S. PC market - statistics & facts

Personal computers (PCs) are small, multi-purpose devices, intended for use by individuals. Prior to the development of the PC, computers were significantly larger and intended for use by large organizations. The term PC was first applied as early as 1972 to the Xerox PARC's Alto, but this later developed to specifically mean a desktop microcomputer compatible with IBM's PC products. Such was the influence of IBM that only Apple Macintosh (Mac) products were able to compete for a share of the microcomputer market after the 1980s, without compatibility to the IBM PC.

As a result of various technological advances in hardware, such as smaller semiconductors, and software, it became possible to build much smaller computers that could be operated by single end-users, and at an affordable price, making the products accessible to more customers in the United States. In 2020, spending on devices, including PCs, is expected to reach 688 billion U.S. dollars globally, whilst overall IT spending is expected to reach 3.87 trillion U.S. dollars, with both therefore experiencing growth from 2019. However, when looking solely at PC shipments in the U.S., in the first quarter of 2020, just over 11 million PCs were shipped, a decline of 30.2 percent compared to the last quarter of 2019. The reduction has been attributed in part to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak which had a negative impact on the production and shipment of such technology products.

PCs come in several types, including stationary products like workstations and desktops, as well as portable or mobile products like laptops, notebooks, netbooks and tablets. In 2023, it is forecast that 56 million mobile PC units are to be shipped in the U.S., whilst desktop PC shipments will reach close to 17 million units in the same year. As well as differences between the hardware available, the operating systems on the devices similarly varies, with Microsoft’s Windows being the most widely used computer operating system in the U.S., accounting for nearly 60 percent of the market. For desktop PCs alone, Microsoft’s control worldwide is closer to 80 percent of the market.

The market leaders in the U.S. PC hardware market are Hewlett Packard (HP) and Dell Technologies, occupying over a combined 55 percent of the market, whilst Lenovo and Apple sit third and fourth respectively. PC vendors in the U.S. are faced with the challenge to adapt to the changing market and stay relevant with new products and services. HP have had a focus on using premium materials, introduced privacy technologies built into each PC unit, and found success in laptops that convert to tablet computers. Others, such as Dell Technologies, shifted their attention to cloud service and storage solutions, moving away from mainly manufacturing computer hardware to providing software and service solutions.

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U.S. PC market

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