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Pandemic drove sales of 4G and 5G PCs to new record

The pandemic caused an increased demand for 4G and 5G connected laptops, as more people worked from home.

Global sales of cellular-enabled mobile PCs reached more than 10-million units for the first time in 2020 as home workers sought improved connectivity in response to the closure of office facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Strategy Analytics’ latest analysis, Connected Computing Devices program, indicated that global shipments increased by 70% to 10.1-million. North America accounted for approximately half of 3G, 4G, and 5G-enabled PC shipments, while Europe and Asia-Pacific accounted for 45%.

Their report, Notebook PC Cellular Connectivity Shipment and Installed Base Forecast, estimates that more than 26-million cellular-enabled PCs are now in use worldwide, an increase of 25% in twelve months.

While 4G/LTE standards dominated the market in 2020, accounting for 97% of cellular-enabled PC shipments, 5G notebook launches in 2021 are showing a greater diversity in price points, form factors, and vendor participation. Strategy Analytics expects 5G to build its share towards 69% by 2025 — dependent on improvements in customer education by vendors, carriers and retailers.

Global Cellular-Enabled Notebook PC Shipments (millions)

“What form new pricing plans take in the 5G world must be informed by a holistic view of the consumer, which devices they use where, and what they use them for,” says Chirag Upadhyay, industry analyst. “In the enterprise space, vendors, carriers and resellers must be able to explain how connected notebooks help save companies money in the field and help reduce security breaches compared to mobile hotspots or dongles.”

Eric Smith, director of connected computing devices, says: “We see this is a ‘when’ problem, not an ‘if’ problem. Cellular connected notebooks will become more commonplace over the next decade but the key to when that happens lies in how industry players introduce the idea to consumers. A clear view into how users choose cellular plans is crucial for vendors, carriers, and even retailers to understand how to better educate consumer segments of more cellular-embedded options.”

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