Global Demand for Laptops Gets Pandemic Push

The surge in work-from-home and study-from-home due to the COVID-19 pandemic has meant good news for the laptop market. Counterpoint expects that the global laptop market will hit a high in 2020, increasing 9% YoY to reach 173 million units and over $132 billion in total sales value.

After reaching its peak in 2011, the laptop market growth has slowed down with the rise of alternatives such as smartphones and tablets. More and more consumers are shifting to smartphones and tablets for leisure usage, while keeping laptops for business purposes. In addition, the increasing durability and longer replacement cycles of laptops all contribute to slowing demand for them. Nonetheless, due to the continuous demand for laptops for commercial use, the market remains relatively stable with global shipments averaging 160 million units over the past few years.

Counterpoint Research - Global Laptop Shipments

Nonetheless, due to the continuous demand for laptops for commercial use, the market remains relatively stable with global shipments averaging 160 million units over the past few years.

In terms of players, the global laptop market has become quite mature and concentrated over the years. The top three players – Lenovo, Hewlett-Packard and Dell – account for 68% of the market in 2020. However, there has been an increased level of competition between the second tier and third tier players. Second tier players such as Apple, Asus and Acer have seen their market shares decline in recent years with the emergence of Chinese brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi.

Building on their success in smartphones, Huawei and Xiaomi have expanded into laptops, quickly gaining a foothold, especially in the Chinese market. In 2016, Huawei launched its first MateBook and soon followed it up with a comprehensive product line ranging from low-end to high-end products. Meanwhile, Xiaomi also launched its Mi Air laptop in the same year, focusing on its light weight and good value for money. Huawei’s laptops have enjoyed stronger growth momentum than Xiaomi’s because they appeal more to business users. With the ongoing US trade sanctions on Huawei’s smartphone business, we expect that Huawei will put more resources into its laptop business and further grow its market share.

With uncertainty persisting over COVID-19, work-from-home and study-from-home will likely continue into much of 2021 and some part of 2022. Therefore, we expect the global laptop shipments to continue to grow slightly in 2021 and 2022. The demand will slow down gradually in 2023.

In the future, we believe that laptops will continue to focus on the ability to process heavier applications such as games, graphic rendering and data processing. With advantages in speed and low latency of 5G networks, storage can be moved to the cloud, opening up new capabilities for 5G laptops that can be always connected and always on.

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