Inactivity in the PC market has caused worldwide PC shipments to decline for the fifth year in a row – from 2012 – according to analyst firm, Gartner. It found that worldwide PC shipments totalled 72.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 3.7 per cent decline from the fourth quarter of 2015.
In total, 2016 saw 269.7 million units shipped, a 6.2 per cent decline from 2015. 2016 shipment totals were at the same levels as shipments in 2007.
PC shipments in the Asia-Pacific market totalled 24.8 million units in the fourth quarter of 2016, a 3.9 per cent decline from the fourth quarter of 2015.
Gartner principal analyst, Mikako Kitagawa, said stagnation in the PC market continued into the fourth quarter of 2016 as a result of the fundamental change in PC buying behaviour during holiday sales.
"The broad PC market has been static as technology improvements have not been sufficient to drive real market growth. There have been innovative form factors like 2-in-1s and thin and light notebooks, as well as technology improvements, such as longer battery life.
“This end of the market has grown fast, led by engaged PC users who put high priority on PCs. However, the market driven by PC enthusiasts is not big enough to drive overall market growth,” she said.
In addition, she said the other side of the PC market sees these units becoming infrequently used.
“Consumers in this segment have high dependency on smartphones, so they stretch PC life cycles longer. This side of the market is much bigger than the PC enthusiast segment; thus, steep declines in the infrequent PC user market offset the fast growth of the PC enthusiast market."
But according to Kitagawa, it’s not all doom and gloom for the PC industry. She mentioned that although the overall PC market will see stagnation, there are growth opportunities within the market, such as the engaged PC user market, the business market and gaming.
However, these growth areas will not prevent the overall decline of the PC market, at least in the next year.
In terms of specific vendor sales (between Lenovo, HP Inc, Dell, Asus, Apple, and Acer), Apple’s Mac shipments totaled 5.3 million units during the fourth quarter of 2016, a decline of 0.9 per cent compared to the same quarter in 2015 regardless of the launch of the new MacBook Pros.
On the other hand, Lenovo, HP Inc, and Dell all experienced an increase in worldwide PC shipments in the fourth quarter of 2016.
According to Gartner, Lenovo maintained the top position, as the company experienced shipment increases in North America and EMEA, while Asia-Pacific and Japan proved to be challenging markets.
Asus suffered the steepest decline among the six vendors in the fourth quarter of 2016. Gartner analysts attributed this to Asus’ shifting PC strategy, which is now focusing more toward the high-end market.
"PCs are not a preferred gift item any longer, as consumers gravitate toward other consumer electronics, such as virtual personal assistant (VPA) speakers, virtual reality (VR) head-mounted devices, and wearables," Kitagawa added.
“Vendors and channels did not have high expectations for the holiday PC sales, so the marketing campaigns remained relatively quiet,” she said.