PC sales sinking almost as fast as Donald Trump's poll numbers

68 million units a quarter and falling as 'Some consumers may never upgrade a PC again'

New data from analyst outfits IDC and Gartner suggest the PC market continues to crater.

The latter firm's 3Q2016 data records an eighth consecutive quarter of shipment decreases, to 68.9 million units or a 5.7 per cent decline from the third quarter of 2015. IDC found “nearly 68 million units in the third quarter of 2016 (3Q16), a year-on-year decline of 3.9 per cent”, but also noted a little upside as that's 3.2 per cent better than it expected.

IDC reckons the less-bad-than-expected performance is a sign that PC-makers have finally started making kit capable of exciting consumers enough to buy a new machine.

Gartner thinks the opposite, with principal analyst Mikako Kitagawa opining that the firms's 2016 personal technology survey showed “the majority of consumers own, and use, at least three different types of devices in mature markets. Among these devices, the PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to. Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again.”

Both firms also note the concentration of sales among the biggest few vendors. In years past “Other” or white box vendors accounted for up to half of the PC market. These days lesser vendors are fighting it out for about a quarter of the market.

Let's read the tale of the tape, starting with Gartner's stylish HTML table.

Preliminary Worldwide PC Vendor Unit Shipment Estimates for 3Q16 (Thousands of Units)





3Q16 Market
Share (%)




3Q15 Market
Share (%)


Growth (%)

Lenovo 14,434 20.9 14,789 20.2 -2.4
HP Inc. 14,058 20.4 13,744 18.8 2.3
Dell 10,111 14.7 9,856 13.5 2.6
Asus 5,397 7.8 5,271 7.2 2.4
Apple 4,946 7.2 5,709 7.8 -13.4
Acer 4,613 6.7 5,370 7.3 -14.1
Others 15,386 22.3 18,359 25.1 -16.2
Total     68,945     100.0     79,098     100.0     -5.7

IDC's tables remain rather old-school.

Top 5 Vendors, Worldwide PC Shipments, Market Share, and Year-Over-Year Growth, Third Quarter 2016 (Preliminary) (Shipments are in thousands of units)


3Q16 Shipments

3Q16 Market Share

3Q15 Shipments

3Q15 Market Share

3Q16/3Q15 Growth

1. Lenovo






2. HP Inc.






3. Dell






4. Apple
























Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly PC Tracker, October 11, 2016

IDC counts Chromebooks and Gartner doesn't, but both firms think they are doing well. IDC reckons Google's spawn “had another banner quarter in the K-12 market” in the United States. Gartner reckons parents give their kids old laptops to take to school but also feels Chromebooks “exceeded PC shipment growth”.

Both firms have also rated tablet shipments as in decline. Even smartphone sales are stalling. So perhaps there's a lot of that hand-me-down stuff going on, or people just aren't upgrading any of their kit as fast as was previously the case. ®

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