Record sales of 4G and 5G-enabled PCs in 2020

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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.

According to a new report from Strategy Analytics, global shipments increased by 70% to 10.1 million, the highest ever annual total with North America accounting for nearly half of 3G-, 4G- and 5G-enabled PC shipments, while Europe and Asia-Pacific accounted for 45%.

The 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.

4G/LTE standards dominated the market in 2020 and accounted for 97% of cellular-enabled PC shipments, 5G notebook launches in 2021 are, however, showing a greater diversity in price points, form factors, and vendor participation, and Strategy Analytics said that it expects 5G to build its share towards 69% by 2025. The report indicated that this growth will depend on improvements in customer education by vendors, carriers and retailers.

“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,” said 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, Connected Computing Devices, added: “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."