SAN FRANCISCO—PC shipments declined for a fifth consecutive year in 2016 as the industry continued to suffer from stagnation and lack of compelling drivers for upgrades, according to market research firms Gartner Inc. and International Data Corp. (IDC).
Both Gartner and IDC estimated that PC shipments declined about 6% in 2016.
The global PC market has been in decline since 2012, first due to increased competition from tablets and other forms of mobile computing. More recently, as tablet sales have sputtered, the PC market stagnation has been blamed largely on lack of compelling new products.
Gartner estimated that fourth quarter PC shipments declined by 4% compared to the fourth quarter of 2015, while IDC estimated that this decline was less than 2%.
Loren Loverde, vice president for PC forecasting at IDC, said he saw some signs of PC shipment stabilization in the 2016 numbers.
"The fourth quarter results reinforce our expectations for market stabilization, and even some recovery," Loverde said. "The contraction in traditional PC shipments experienced over the past five years finally appears to be giving way as users move to update systems. We have a good opportunity for traditional PC growth in commercial markets, while the consumer segment should also improve as it feels less pressure from slowing phone and tablet markets."
Meanwhile, Mikaki Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner, offered a less optimistic take. Kitagawa said PC market stagnation continued into the fourth quarter, with holiday sales that were generally considered weak.
"The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth.,” Kitagawa said.
While the PC industry has added innovative form factors like 2-in-1s and ultralight notebooks as well as technology improvements like longer battery life, it has not been enough to drive overall market growth, Kitagawa said.
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Preliminary estimate for PC shipment by vendor in thousands of units. Source: Gartner.
Gartner estimated that about 270 million PCs shipped worldwide in 2016, a decrease of 6% compared to 2015. IDC estimated that about 260 million “traditional PCs” —desktop, laptops and workstations—shipped during the year, down 6% from 2015.
The PC market in the U.S. experienced a slight fourth quarter shipment decline to 17 million units, according to IDC. The retails PC market was strong in the U.S. during the quarter, according to the firm.
Neha Mahajan, a senior research analyst for devices and displays at IDC, said the U.S. PC market had a strong final quarter with retail PC growth that surpassed expectations. “"Although this might signal regained consumer confidence in the PC market, with most of the sales being driven by aggressive promotions in the holiday season, it needs to be seen how much of the real demand is carried forward in the coming quarters,” Mahajan said.
PC sales in Japan as well as the EMEA and Asia-Pacific regions all fared better than expected, according to IDC.
Both market research firms agreed that Lenovo retained the top spot in sales among PC vendors in the fourth quarter, with Gartner estimating its market share at about 22%. Lenovo was once again followed by HP in second place and Dell in third place, the firms reported.
—Dylan McGrath covers the semiconductor industry and business news for EE Times.