Annual PC Shipments Rise for the First Time Since 2011
The PC market finally grew again in 2019, after a full seven years of contraction. According to IDC, global PC shipments grew 4.8 percent in Q4 to 71.8M shipments, the highest single-quarter volume since Q4 2015. Overall, worldwide PC shipments were up 2.7 percent compared with 2018. That’s the first increase since the PC market grew 1.7 percent in 2011.
“This past year was a wild one in the PC world, which resulted in impressive market growth that ultimately ended seven consecutive years of market contraction,” said Ryan Reith, program vice president with IDC’s Worldwide Mobile Device Trackers. “The market will still have its challenges ahead, but this year was a clear sign that PC demand is still there despite the continued insurgence of emerging form factors and the demand for mobile computing.”
It’s not clear, however, if this is a true return to growth or more of a one-time pause. In the very next sentence, IDC refers to the fact that PC shipments grew because businesses bought new hardware to address Windows 7’s retirement. Some of that momentum will carry over into 2020, but once the replacement cycle ends, it’s not clear if we’ll see a sustained return to growth. Shipments in certain PC categories like gaming and mobile have grown, but not enough to offset the general decline from 2012 – 2018. Gartner also reported that the PC market grew in 2019, though it recorded a lower level of growth, at 0.6 percent.
Gartner, at least, thinks the business upgrade push will last through the full year. Interestingly, that analyst company believes growth would have been even higher if Intel hadn’t been suffering a CPU shortage but makes no mention of AMD. IDC notes that stronger AMD product adoption offset some of Intel’s CPU shortages, while easing trade tensions between the US and China may have also goosed sales a bit.
The top vendors on the market today, according to IDC, are Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, Acer, and “everybody else.” Tablets and servers don’t count in this estimate. Gartner explicitly notes that it doesn’t count Chromebooks in its tallies but includes Asus as a top worldwide vendor, below Acer.
2019 continued the long trend of consolidation between the various major hardware vendors. As PC sales have fallen, it’s been the white box and small builders who were hit the hardest. The major vendors now control 65 percent of the worldwide PC market. Both Gartner and IDC tracked declines in this segment, with the major vendors eating up the difference.
Top image credit: Credit: Ruben de Rijcke/CC by 3.0