The PC market has been sliding for the better part of a decade now. Quarter after quarter, people buy fewer traditional PCs and more mobile devices. Now, despite predictions of yet another drop, the PC market has reportedly grown for the first time in six years. The new report from analyst firm IDC shows a 0.7 percent increase in PC shipments over the last quarter of 2017.
Overall, the fourth quarter brought 70.5 million PC shipments, with HP at the top of the heap by a comfortable margin. It shipped about 16.5 million units all by itself, and it captured 23.5 percent of the market. Lenovo is in the number two slot with 15.7 million units shipped and a 22.2 percent share. Dell is in a distant third with 15.7 percent of PC shipments. Apple managed to ship 5.7 million computers for an 8.2 percent share. Although, it probably earned a lot more profit from each one of those computers. Acer and Asus are tied for fifth place with around 4.5 million units and a 6.4 percent share. IDC notes that Acer’s presence in Chromebooks has helped it catch up to Asus. Those are some of the most popular low-cost devices right now.
While the fourth quarter results are good, the market for PCs was still down overall in 2017. However, it was only barely negative. For the full year, PC shipments were down just 2.0 percent, for a total of 259.5 million units shipped. That’s a significant improvement over 2016’s 1.5 percent drop, and worlds better than the whopping 8.3 percent drop we saw in 2015.
Analysts have been talking about the potential for PC market stabilization for several years, but it wasn’t expected to happen in 2017. IDC previously forecasted another 1.7 percent decline in PC shipments over the holidays, but Gartner forecasted a small increase. The company notes this could be a positive sign for the industry; it could mean PC sales are beginning to stabilize as we find the new normal.
Smartphones and tablets have proven popular, but tablets have started dropping off as well. These devices are great at certain things — virtually everyone has a smartphone now, and for some, it’s the only computing device they need. Still, PCs will always be better for certain tasks, and the leveling off in this data could indicate consumers understand that. The next few quarters may still show a drop as fewer people buy PCs in the spring and summer, but there might be more gains in late 2018.
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