Santa's sack was bulging over Chrimbo, but it wasn't due to PC-shaped presents – computer sales slipped again in the final quarter of 2016, capping off five consecutive years of market shrinkage.
According to data from Gartner, shipments to distributors and retailers fell 3.7 per cent year-on-year to 72.6 million units. The beancounters at IDC counted 70.2 million boxes, equating to a drop of 1.5 per cent.
"Stagnation in the PC market continued into the fourth quarter of 2017 as holiday sales were generally weak due to the fundamental change in PC buying behaviour," said Mikako Kitagawa, Gartner principal analyst.
She said improvements to technology in the mainstream PC space hadn't been sufficient to boost overall market demand. The more expensive 2-in-1s and the thin and light models flew out the door, but PC enthusiasts buying them were not high enough in number to have a wider impact.
For the year, Gartner estimated shipments at 269.717 million, down 6.2 per cent year-on-year, with each of the major manufacturers except Dell reporting falling sales.
Kitagawa reckoned vendors would continue to exploit pockets of growth – ultra mobile, gaming – but in general there would be continued "stagnation" in demand.
Over at IDC, Loren Loverde blamed high inventory – an issue El Reg flagged on multiple occasions last year – and the offer of free Windows 10 upgrades as reasons for weakened sales.
He claimed commercial demand had steadied and "contraction of the consumer PC market has slowed," which together served to "reinforce our expectations for market stabilization, and even some recovery."
For the year, IDC reckoned sales fell 5.7 per cent to 260.183 million and it said HP Inc and Dell were the only major players to grow. The PC industry only has itself to blame. ®