IDC: Apple Mac sales rocket in Q3 with 38.9% year-over-year growth

As the global pandemic continues, continuity of business and education remain at the forefront of most economies. The remote work and learning COVID-19-induced boom saw Apple’s Mac sales rocket in Q3 with 38.9% year-over-year growth and led to double-digit growth in the traditional PC market, comprised of desktops, notebooks, and workstations, as global shipments grew 14.6% year over year to 81.3 million units in the third quarter of 2020 (3Q20), according to preliminary results from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker.

“Consumer demand and institutional demand approached record levels in some cases,” said Jitesh Ubrani research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers, in a statement. “Gaming, Chromebooks, and in some cases cellular-enabled notebooks were all bright spots during the quarter. 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.”

Shortages of multiple components, such as processors, panels, and other subcomponents, did however lead to a missed opportunity for many PC vendors. “The PC industry rode into the third quarter with a sizeable backlog of unfulfilled orders,” said Linn Huang, research vice president, Devices and Displays at IDC, in a stateemnt. “And it appears the quarter will end under the same auspices. Given that the shortages have been due more to a shortfall of business planning than a technical glitch, we do not anticipate a sudden surge in capacity. Consequently, this backlog will likely carry into 2021.”

Top 5 Companies, Worldwide Traditional PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q3 2020
(Preliminary results, shipments are in thousands of units)

Top 5 Companies, Worldwide Traditional PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Q3 2020(Preliminary results, shipments are in thousands of units) Source: IDC Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, October 12, 2020
Source: IDC Quarterly Personal Computing Device Tracker, October 12, 2020

• Some IDC estimates prior to financial earnings reports. Data for all companies are reported for calendar periods.
• Shipments include shipments to distribution channels or end users. OEM sales are counted under the company/brand under which they are sold.
• Traditional PCs include Desktops, Notebooks, and Workstations and do not include Tablets or x86 Servers. Detachable Tablets and Slate • Tablets are part of the Personal Computing Device Tracker but are not addressed in this press release.

MacDailyNews Take: 38.9% year-over-year growth in Mac sales – not too shabby!


  1. Well, let’s face it. I’ve been using a 2013 MBP for 7 years. Finally got a 2020 MBA because it was both cheap enough to be a stopgap machine as I watch the ARM Macs come out and because they got rid of that shit butterfly keyboard – the latter being the cause of my delay for years.

  2. its probably self-evident that Apple’s gains have probably been from parents buying a low end Mac laptop for the kids to use for homeschooling.

    Having more of a breakdown on which products saw gains would provide us with more insight (as if Apple really would share that data)…

    …and of course, there’s also a smattering of 2019 Mac Pro’s in that total too, so one need be cautious about disparities between median & average price! /s

    Some of this could also be consumers buying a “last of the Intel” Macs before the pain of the 3rd Party software transitions (and costs) … I know that I’m currently shopping for this specific reason, because I don’t want to have the headache of the change breaking my workflows … and “broken workflows” is precisely what has happened literally every single time that Apple makes a big shift like this, so being able to put it off for ~3 years while software vendors figure out their updates is a smart defensive strategy.

  3. Apple got lucky. When they used to be a phone company, and hit the market a few years ago with iPhone X with $1000+ shock for this little device (with OLED and Face ID combo), and I stopped yearly phone renewal madness since then (8 was the last then SE). I needed more than their phones but they have been promoting iOS devices for quite sometime almost as if they have no other products than phones. I almost left them after more than 30+ years since 1986. X was not a block buster as Apple touted to be with noisy hype, but the dip made them regain the sanity albeit gradually. Apparently, somebody finally woke up to the old mojo of Apple and started updating Mac line of products in spite of pipeline moniker and it was more than an instant success (or returned to their roots). Pandemic and other side shows just helped relaunch renewed Macs (hence lucky Apple). I am very comfy with Apple now. They now offer what I really wanted for a long time. Watch TV news programs for example. Free Apple ads (MacBooks) everywhere! Keep it up, Apple!

    1. Luck has nothing to do with it, Apple still makes the best software/hardware combo in the business, however I agree Apple needs to offer better more usable Macs, Monitors, and reintroduce Apple routers to the mix (my wish list).

      Oh, and buy more Apple shares that will make you richer and happier in the meantime.

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