Laptops by the Numbers: Market Share and More
Walk into a tech store anywhere and you’ll see the same five or six laptop brands on the shelves. Lenovo. HP. Dell. Maybe some ASUS or Acer models. Unless you’ve wandered into an Apple store, of course.
The laptop market is very narrow, with the three top vendors accounting for 63.9% of unit shipments in 2023.
Global laptop sales totaled $127.6 billion in 2023, with 114.8 million units shipped worldwide in the first two quarters of the year. The market was dominated by six large PC manufacturers: Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, ASUS, and Acer.
Companies like Toshiba, MSI, Microsoft, and Samsung also rank high, accounting for a combined 13.9% of global laptop market share in 2023, down 2.3% from 2022.
According to recent data, global laptop sales are estimated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 2.93% through 2028. Unit shipments are projected to rise at a CAGR of 1% in 2024.
The laptop market’s continued expansion is due to the ever-spreading internet grid, rising disposable incomes, swelling global population, and increasing interest among consumers, especially outside Europe and North America.
The PC industry faces a number of challenges. For the last decade, PC sales (laptops included) have been on the decline as consumers do more and more of their computing with smartphones and tablets. In Q3 2023, the global PC market shrank by 7.6% year-over-year, amounting to 68.2 million units sold.
As of 2023, around 1.3 billion people in the world own a tablet. The technology swept the market by storm, causing a significant decline in personal computer sales of all kinds, especially when it comes to households with children, out of which more than 80% in the US own at least one tablet.
Robust desktop PCs are still key for business enterprises and government institutions all over the world, as smartphones and tablets are not yet able to match their power. That is why the only two consumer groups still purchasing PCs are gamers and high-income professionals.
Laptops fall somewhere in between PCs and smartphones. There seems to be an ongoing need for high-end notebooks capable of performing demanding tasks like gaming and software development. And small, inexpensive laptops directly compete with tablets.
Will laptops survive in the shrinking space between PCs and smartphones? It’s hard to say. Here’s what the market looks like today.
Market Share of Laptop Brands
The laptop market pie is shared by a handful of players. Judging by the latest laptop sales statistics, the three or four top companies seem well-positioned to retain their dominance and continued sales.
Market share is static, but technology isn’t. Laptop vendors must struggle to keep up with ever-changing technological developments and innovations, coming to terms with 5G network technology, augmented reality, and more. The industry sets its goals high when making devices affordable and accessible to the widest array of users.
A strong presence in the desktop PC industry turns out to be a good thing for laptop makers. The PC industry increasingly focuses on volume buyers like governments and corporations.
When purchasing managers select a PC brand, they negotiate for laptops as part of the same contract. It is no coincidence that the top laptop sellers also have a strong presence in the PC market.
It is not unusual for laptop makers to find themselves bidding for commercial contracts with multinational companies, supplying thousands, even tens of thousands of units.
That’s the landscape. Here are the top players in the global laptop market in 2024:
In 2017, Lenovo’s global laptop market share was just above 20%. After a year-on-year drop of 4.9% in the first half of 2017, the Chinese company made efforts to boost sales in Asia and Europe. Those efforts couldn’t reverse the company’s slide.
Since the slowdown, Lenovo has fought to reclaim its dominant position on the world stage, leading to strong results in 2018. The tech giant managed to grab the largest piece of the global laptop market share pie by the year’s end. After recording three consecutive quarters of double-digit year-over-year shipment growth, Lenovo ended the year with a 22.5% share of the global laptop market.
Desktop PCs and laptop series such as ThinkPad, ThinkBook, IdeaPad, Yoga, and Legion contributed to Lenovo’s record 58.4 million unit shipments in 2018, putting Lenovo at the very top of the industry.
Fast-forward to the third quarter of 2023 and the company is still at the number one spot in the world when it comes to laptop sales, holding an estimated 24% share of the market, even though the entire laptop and PC market is seeing a downturn in sales compared to 2021 and the boost that came from lockdowns and worldwide remote work enviroment.
By the end of Q3 2023, Lenovo had shipped 14.3 million PC units, down 20.3% year-over-year compared to 2022.
While Lenovo has established itself as the top PC manufacturer in the world in recent years, HP is still a fierce rival when it comes to laptops and notebook computers. Rivalry in the Lenovo versus HP battle is tight, with the two vendors swapping first and second place many times throghout the years.
HP’s sales are mostly generated from popular models like Envy, Elitebook, Pavilion, Omen, and Pavilion Gaming, and in 2023 it holds a 22.5% global laptop market share.
The biggest market for HP is still the United States, where it holds a 26.7% market share in Q3 2023, but has narrowly lost its number one position to Dell, which has an equal market share percentage but has shipped a few thousand more PCs than HP this year, making it as narrow of a race as it gets.
Out of all the leading laptop manufacturers, Hewlett-Packard is the only company that saw an increase in sales and market share in the US when compared to 2022, indicating that there's a potential for HP to once again reclaim its throne if the trend continues into 2024.
American PC manufacturer Dell has seen an increase in market share after nailing several key government contracts for notebooks in the United States and Canada several years ago. Moreover, Dell's supply of Chromebooks has allowed it to snatch a piece of the low-end pie, and rise to the third place in the global laptop market share, with 17.4% by Q3 2023.
As we mentioned earlier, Dell is the most successfull in the US, with those sales amounting to nearly 50% of all Dell PC sales in the first half of the year. Still, the number of unit shipments is down 12.9% compared to the first two quarters of 2022, and Dell's market share in the US has also shrank by 1.3% in the same time period.
The global numbers are a bit better when it comes to market share, with a 1.2% overall shrinkage, but also much worse in terms of sales, with Dell selling 20.8% less PC units in the first half of 2023.
Everyone knows that Apple computers are a breed apart. The iconic slim design and superior computing power have always made Apple one of the industry’s top computer vendors. The army of Mac faithful makes sure that Apple gets its piece of the pie each year, even though the overall global laptop market share is still far behind the top manufacturers.
An updated version of the MacBook Pro in the second quarter of 2017 led to a sales spike compared to other notebook brands, allowing Apple to enjoy a 1.3% increase in shipments compared to 2016. The growth let Apple grab fourth place in the world laptop market, pushing ASUS to fifth. The company has since then held on to the 4th place in the world's laptop market share, and has seen the smallest drop in sales in 2023 compared to the rest of the competition, shipping 0.3% fewer units compared to 2022.
This in turn increased Apple's overall market share by Q2 2023 to 8.9%, compared to 7.4% in the same period last year.
When looking at the US data, Apple's market share is at a much stronger 13.3%, which is a 0.7% increase compared to 2022, but the overall sales did drop by 2.9%.
Acer has had more success breaking into the US laptop market than ASUS, mostly thanks to its cooperation with Google. Headquartered in Taipei, Taiwan, Acer has expanded aggressively in the Chromebook market, and for almost a decade held onto the sixth spot among laptop manufacturers, but has finally overtaken ASUS in 2022, with 7.1% market share.
The company has regained that position by the end of Q2 2023, even though its overall market share worldwide dropped to 6.7%, with more than one million fewer units shipped compared to the same period last year.
In the US, Acer has seen a similar decline, but its lead in market share compared to ASUS is now more than double what it was in the first half of 2022.
In 2016, ASUSTek Computer held a notebook market share of 10.3% and was the industry’s fourth global superpower. Since ASUS adjusted its product strategy with an aim to reduce the production of models with low profits, however, the brand has experienced a small-scale revenue earthquake.
Its place dropped to fifth in 2017 with an international laptop market share of 9.5%. The 2018 decline in global shipments affected the company’s market share once again, reducing it to 6%. ASUS, which found an army of grateful users in the gaming niche, makes the bulk of its laptop sales with series like ZenBook, Vivo, Republic of Gamers, and TUF Gaming.
Although the company ranks well in the Asia-Pacific region, its presence in the US barely makes it in the top six. ASUS is a well-established tech giant in the international market, but American users remain largely unaware of the brand. The company accounted for 2.9% of overall PC market share in the first two quarters of 2023, dropping from 4.2% in 2022.
This year has since the sales and the market share of ASUS drop the most when compared to other competitors in the United States, with the company losing 36.7% in sales.
Combined Desktop/Laptop Market Share in the US
Q2 2023 Shipments
Global Desktop/Laptop OS Market Share
Now that we’ve gone through the hardware rankings, let’s take a look at the operating systems that run laptops and how they fare on the global market. We’ll look at the leading companies that provide operating software for both desktop and laptop computers.
Windows market share is still dominant, but the giant has finally started showing weakness in 2023. Redmond’s flagship operating system now commands more than 68% of all desktop/laptop computer market share around the world, with Apple’s macOS garnering rising to break the 20% of the world market for the first time this year.
Marginal operating systems like Google’s ChromeOS and Linux have also grown in popularity, with a desktop/laptop market share of around 3.8% and 3% respectively.
In the United States, the data is even less favorable to Microsoft, which lost more than 10% of market share compared to the first half of 2022, while Apple's OSX growing to an impressive 31.94%. The ChromeOS is also much more popular in the US, and has now risen to hold hold 7.79% of the US laptop/desktop market share, according to the data from StatCounter.
Laptop Market Share by Region
North America and Europe account for 50% of the laptop market. Although these regions are traditionally the biggest markets when it comes to laptops, they are forecast to experience a period of decline because these markets are oversaturated with laptop technology.
Part of the reason these traditionally strong markets are in a period of decline is the fact that laptop technology seems to have reached its full potential in terms of development. Therefore, sales are dropping. Last year’s model is basically as good as this year’s. Technical innovations could change this overnight.
The Asia-Pacific market is experiencing unprecedented growth. With government policies in the region announcing a reduction of import duties imposed on spare parts, there’s only one way for the market to go, and that is up.
Second, government initiatives such as Make in India, Made in China 2025, and Digital India are poised to boost production and stimulate sales.
Third, a growing number of direct foreign investments in fields like retail and e-commerce are making laptops more available than ever for users in the Asia-Pacific.
Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa, who have been shy on the global market, are forecast to progress significantly in the near future. As the regions are seeing a rise in disposable income, the population is bound to boost sales on technology in general, including laptops. Governments are following suit, developing policies that allow the digital economy to thrive.
With some of the countries belonging to these regions still suffering from undeveloped internet infrastructure, it’s only natural to see these markets grow as they expand the grid, putting more people online.
The Biggest Laptop Manufacturers - A Brief History
In 1975, IBM pioneered the portable computer technology with its 5100 model, instantly launching a race among companies and inventors alike. Computer makers began trying to pack as much power as they could into the smallest possible chassis.
Eleven years later, in 1986, IBM raised the bar once again. The company’s PC Convertible set the industry standard, introducing the 3½-inch floppy disk format and reducing the weight of a portable computer to 13 pounds.
A year later, Hewlett-Packard joined in the race by releasing the Vectra, and the game was on.
New players emerged, only to fall down in the next decade or so. Reducing size and weight was paramount. Every PC maker in the laptop market knew what they needed to achieve in order to join the company of top PC brands; reduce weight, add power, market an attractive design.
Then Apple came out with Macintosh Portable in 1989, planting the seeds of a vision that was destined to become the company’s trademark.
Apple’s portable did not fare well in the early days of laptops. This was mainly due to its steep price: $6,500. Nevertheless, the company’s uncompromising attitude would eventually earn them respect - and sales.
While a number of other companies tried to grab their piece of the laptop market share, IBM (the laptops now made and sold by Lenvova), HP, and Apple remain the leading players. Joined by Dell in the early 1990s, they kept growing, launching model after model, reducing size and boosting power.
Together with ASUS and Acer, they took control of the world stage when it comes to sales on laptops, earning billions of dollars each year.
Who is the biggest laptop manufacturer?
Lenovo and HP hold the biggest market share. In 2023, Lenovo accounted for 24% of all worldwide laptop sales, with HP coming in second with 22.5%.
What is Apple's market share of computers?
In 2023, Apple achieved a global desktop/laptop market share of 8.9% and ranked fourth behind Lenovo, HP, and Dell. In the United States, Apple accounts for 13.3% of the PC market.
Which laptop brand is the most reliable?
Apple. According to Consumer Reports, Apple has the lowest rate of malfunction in the first two years of usage at 10%.
Which laptops last longest?
Lenovo ThinkPad T480, HP Envy x2, and Dell Latitude 7400 2-in-1 are the top three laptops with longest-lasting batteries on the market.
For years, the clients I worked for were banks. That gave me an insider’s view of how banks and other institutions create financial products and services. Then I entered the world of journalism. Fortunly is the result of our fantastic team’s hard work. I use the knowledge I acquired as a bank copywriter to create valuable content that will help you make the best possible financial decisions.