The technology research firm Canalys said the three top vendors accounted for most of the growth. Lenovo shipped 64.8 million units, HP followed with 63 million, with growth of 8.6% and 4.7% respectively.
Dell was third with 46.5 million units shipped, an increase of 5.3% on its 2018 figures. Apple (19.1 million units) was fourth, and Acer (17.04 million units) fifth, with the latter the only vendor in the top five to show a decline in units shipped.
Canalys analyst Ishan Dutt said the PC market had a decent holiday quarter. "This is impressive given the market registered record growth in Q3. Despite supply chain issues, vendors remain bullish, especially in the commercial sector.
The US market grew by 7% year-on-year during the fourth quarter, with 17.9 million units shipped. The government decision to delay the imposition of tariffs led to more spending than expected.
The research firm said that in Europe, Brexit was a big influence on quarter four shipments which grew about 2% in EMEA, below the global average. On the plus side, it pointed out that UK businesses now had short-term certainty, as the date for Brexit had now been set as 31 January, even if a long-term trade deal between the UK and the EU was some way off.
Canalys said PC shipments were likely to accelerate as channels built inventory ahead of the UK departure date, given that distributors were nervous about subsequent product delays between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
Overall, shipments this year are not expected to be as good as in 2019. "2020 is unlikely to repeat the success of 2019. Macroeconomic factors continue to influence the PC industry heavily, as key markets like the US, Japan and India are expected to under-perform, for the major part of the year," said Canalys research director Rushabh Doshi.
"Adding uncertainty to the market is a possible disruption to HP, which continues to be the target of a hostile takeover by Xerox. 5G and foldable displays will bring some excitement to otherwise iterative upgrades.
"However, vendors remain in an experimental phase for both these features. Foldables suffer from a serious lack of use-cases, and demand is unlikely to grow unless second- or third-generation devices can prove durability. 5G on the other hand, needs ecosystem readiness from network operators and cloud providers to justify the value offering of these devices. Mainstream adoption of 5G and foldable displays is still a good two to three years away."
NB: Lenovo figures from Q2 include Fujitsu, post finalisation of merger.